With his wife Jane W. Temerlin, Temerlin raised Lucy Temerlin, a chimpanzee owned by the Institute for Primate Studies at the University of Oklahoma at Norman, Oklahoma, in their home. Temerlin and his wife raised Lucy as if she were a human child, teaching her to eat with silverware, dress herself, flip through magazines, and sit in a chair at the dinner table. She was taught American Sign Language by primatologist Roger Fouts as part of an ape language project. Temerlin wrote the book Lucy: Growing Up Human: A Chimpanzee Daughter in a Psychotherapist's Family, analyzing the chimp's behaviour and describing her life.
Temerlin collaborated academically with his wife on articles, including "Psychotherapy Cults: An Iatrogenic Perversion," which was published in Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice. The work remains highly regarded, and is cited by numerous academicians, including Robert S. Pepper,Michael Langone, Guy Fielding and Sue Llewelyn,David A. Halperin, and Arnold Markowitz, and Dennis Tourish and Pauline Irving.