The Philadelphia Association was founded as a Charity in 1965 by the psychiatrist and psychoanalyst R D Laing and a number of his colleagues. It stated as its central objective – in terms appropriate to the Association's formal existence as a Charity – "the relief of mental illness of all descriptions, in particular schizophrenia". From the beginning, however, its more radical intention was to question the way in which the "facts" of "mental health" and "mental illness" are seen.
The first of a number of therapeutic community households to be founded by the Philadelphia Association, Kingsley Hall, was opened in 1964. A series of lectures and seminars, which eventually was to become the Introductory Course, began at the same time. Over the next decade a psychotherapy training, involving personal analysis, supervision of training cases, and study of the classic texts, gradually evolved.
Today, the Association runs a small number of community households, a psychotherapy training course, seminars and public lectures. An Introductory course is open to those interested in the broad field of psychotherapy, particularly from the standpoint of a philosophical and cultural critique of much that is elsewhere taken for granted.