Robert Firestone is a contemporary psychologist and artist.

Professional Life

Robert W. Firestone was born in Brooklyn on September 8, 1930. He attended the University of California at Berkeley as an undergrad, and Los Angeles State College for his master’s degree. Firestone completed his PhD in clinical psychology at the University of Denver in 1957.

Firestone focused his attention on schizophrenia during his early years, and he maintained a private practice in Los Angeles from 1957-1979, working with a variety of clients. Later he directed his efforts toward inner negativity when he became affiliated with the Glendon Association, an organization devoted to addressing violence, abuse, and suicide.

Along with his daughter, clinical psychologist Lisa Firestone, Robert Firestone developed three critical tools that identify someone at risk for violence and suicide:

  1. The Firestone Assessment of Violent Thoughts (FAVT)
  2. The Firestone Assessment of Self-Destructive Thoughts (FAST)
  3. The Firestone Assessment of Suicidal Intent (FASI)

Firestone is a contributing psychologist to many websites and the author of numerous articles and books. He was a pioneer in the exploration of neurosis, and his research on negative thoughts helped form the basis of Voice Therapy®, a therapeutic technique that aims to transform self-destructive behaviors.

Contribution to Psychology

Firestone continues to train clinicians throughout the world in the use of Voice Therapy. Voice Therapy is a process by which a client is taught how to recognize the “critical inner voice.” By speaking in the second person, rather than the first person, a client begins to hear the destructive and harmful criticisms that he or she directs inward. Voice Therapy allows a client to acknowledge how hurtful and maladaptive these words are when spoken to another, and ultimately, to themselves. 

Through this awareness, a client can begin to see the results of their negative self-talk and learn techniques to change their inner dialogue. This method of therapy is purported to be a highly effective way to delve into a client’s negative belief system and identify unhealthy communication and behavior patterns. Once these have been discovered, the client and therapist can work together to develop a plan for change.
There are three specific elements of effective Voice Therapy:

  1. Discover and reveal the negative thought patterns for what they are. Once identified, the client is encouraged to find the link between the negative thoughts and the affects they create.
  2. Explore insights gained and develop awareness of what reactions the verbalization of the voice elicits.
  3. Use new knowledge to develop voice-regulated behaviors that will combat negative thoughts and actions.