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The History of Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health

Helena DevereuxIn 1912, a young Philadelphia teacher named Helena Trafford Devereux became discouraged as she saw, firsthand, that children with disabilities were underserved by the public education system. Believing she could do better, she began teaching some of these children in her own home. She maintained that children, regardless of the level of their disabilities, could learn and achieve personal growth in an environment tailored to their needs.

In January 1918, Helena Devereux used $94 of saved and borrowed funds to rent a house in Devon, Pennsylvania. On May 1, 1918, she and her students took residence in the house that became known as “Devereux Stone.” Soon after, her students numbered 12 and, in 1919, Devereux was able to purchase the rental property, as well as the neighboring estate. Over the course of two years, school enrollment doubled. From 1920 onward, the organization saw continued growth. In 1922, the different schools and facilities united under one name – Devereux Schools.

In 1938, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania granted Devereux its nonprofit charter. In 1943, the Devereux Foundation expanded tremendously, purchasing another building in Devon, Pennsylvania, as well as a 350-acre estate in Santa Barbara, California. Devereux welcomed Edward L. French, Ph.D., who would serve as the director of psychology and education for seven years, before becoming the director of the Devereux Foundation upon Helena Devereux’s resignation in 1957. She would continue to serve actively as a consultant.

Devereux continued to expand in the 1950s and 1960s, opening centers in Texas, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Arizona. In 1955, Devereux earned its place among the ranks of the academic elite, as it began professional training and research partnerships with several universities including: the Teachers College of Columbia University, Pennsylvania State University, University of Pennsylvania, and Bryn Mawr College School of Social Work, among others. In 1956, Devereux was approved by the American Psychology Association (APA) to offer internships, and is one of only 10 pre-doctoral internship programs in professional psychology continuously accredited by the APA since the program’s inception Accredited Internship Programs in Professional Psychology.