I grew up in Cleveland Heights, Ohio where I first became active in movements for social justice that have shaped the direction of my life’s work. Choosing a career in psychology over one as a vocalist, I received a B.A cum laude in 1972 from Case Western Reserve University, and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in 1977. I completed a predoctoral internship in Clinical Psychology at the Seattle Veteran’s Administration Medical Center.
I have served on the faculties of Southern Illinois University, the University of Washington, and the Washington School of Professional Psychology, and have taught and lectured through the U.S., Canada, Europe, Taiwan and Israel. In the early 1980s I hosted one of the first radio call-in shows by a psychologist.
Interests and accomplishments
Everything that I do is motivated by the drive to create social justice, whether it’s the way that I practice psychotherapy or the manner in which I teach. This principle of infusing social justice into everything that I do is visible and known to everyone who interacts with me, and is a focus of the training clinic that I founded. I make the construct of “Tikkun Olam”, the Hebrew term for healing the world, central to my work, teaching my trainees that psychotherapy is Tikkun Olam, one hour and one life at a time. Thus, I try to inspire by example, and by continuous asking the question, “what is the one small thing that we can do to empower another person.”
The bulk of my scholarly work has been in the fields of feminist therapy theory, trauma treatment, lesbian and gay issues, assessment and diagnosis, ethics and standards of care in psychotherapy, and cultural competence. I have authored or edited ten professional books including the award-winning Subversive Dialogues: Theory in Feminist Therapy as well as more than 150 other professional publications, and have been featured in six psychotherapy training videos.
A Fellow of ten American Psychological Association divisions, the Association for Psychological Science and the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation, I was awarded the Diplomate in Clinical Psychology in 1986 by the American Board of Professional Psychology and am a Distinguished Practitioner and Member of the National Academies of Practice in Psychology.
I have served on the editorial boards of numerous journals, and currently am a consulting editor for Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, Trauma Psychology, Ethics and Behavior, and Journal of Trauma and Dissociation. I am Clinical Professor in the Dept. of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington.
I am a former President of APA Divisions 35 (Society for the Psychology of Women), 44 (Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Issues), and 56 (Trauma Psychology) and of the Washington State Psychological Association.
I founded, and until June 2015, directed, the Fremont Community Therapy Project, a low-fee psychotherapy training clinic in Seattle.
In the Fall of 2000, I was the on-site psychologist for the reality show Survivor: The Australian Outback.
In 2003 I took up the study of Aikido, in which I hold the rank of 1st kyu; I am currently working toward my black belt test. I now integrate aikido’s principles of open-hearted connection and peaceful resolution of conflict into my understanding of the therapy process.
My co-therapist of many years was a Staffordshire Bull Terrier named Schmulik. Schmulik was a full-time psychotherapist, a role that he took on from the moment he came home to live with me in the fall of 1995. Sitting in my lap or in his crate, he learned at an early age to be fully present with people who were in terrible emotional pain. He would lean his head on people’s knees when they dissociated, reminding them that they were safely in the present moment where he resided, jump on the couch and cuddle next to them while they were having flashbacks so that they could know that they were not alone, kiss them when they were crying. If someone needed to be distracted, he’d assist by rolling on the floor and waggling on his back in the most silly manner possible. If being left alone was in order, Schmu would lie quietly on the floor or in another chair, or take himself to his crate to nap. He would sometimes sleep curled up into one of his clients, exuding calm and gentle snores, reminding people that safety was possible, and that he was its embodiment. As the receptionist at my office he would bound joyously down the hallway, greet each client with enthusiasm, and then herd us back to the office, sometimes turning around to bark forcefully as if to ask, “what’s keeping you humans?” Schmu even attended a workshop on ethics in psychotherapy in his first year of life, where he sat quietly for a full day in my lap. He has been much missed, both at work and at home. Several therapy dog interns trained at the Fremont Clinic, learning how to comfort people in pain just as Schmulik had done.
Awards and honors
My work has led to many awards from my psychologist peers and as well as from my students. I have been honored for my scholarship, my activism, and my work as a mentor and leader on social justice issues in psychology.
- Fellow, American Psychological Association, Divisions 9, 12, 29, 35, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 56
- Fellow, Association for Psychological Science
- Fellow, Western Psychological Association
- Fellow, International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation
- Distinguished Publication Award, Association for Women in Psychology, 1987, 1995
- Distinguished Contributions Award, American Psychological Association Committee on Lesbian and Gay Concerns, 1989
- Distinguished Psychologist Award, Washington State Psychological Association, 1989, 2009
- Distinguished Professional Contributions Award, APA Division 44, 1990
- Leadership Citation, American Psychological Association Committee on Women in Psychology, 1990
- Cleveland Heights-University Heights High School Alumni Hall of Fame, 1995
- American Psychological Association Award for Distinguished Professional Contributions to Public Service, 1995
- International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies Sarah Haley Memorial Award for Clinical Excellence, 1997
- Distinguished Practitioner, National Academy of Pracice in Psychology, Elected 1998
- Heritage Award for Practice, Division of Psychology of Women of the APA, 1998
- Visiting Fellow, British Psychological Society, 2001
- Raymond Fowler Award for Promotion of Student Professional Development, American Psychological Association of Graduate Students, 2003
- Distinguished Contributions Award (Laura Brown Award), Society for the Psychology of Women Section on Lesbian and Bisexual Women’s Issues, 2004
- Carolyn Wood Sherif Memorial Award, Society for the Psychology of Women, 2004
- Society for Clinical Psychology Award for Lifetime Contributions to Diversity in Clinical Psychology, 2009
- Distinguished Psychologist Award, Washington State Psychological Association, 2009
- Presidential Citation, American Psychological Association, 2011
- Outstanding Mentor Award, Division of Psychologists in Independent Practice, 2012
- Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman Award, 2012
- Distinguished Contributions to Teaching and Mentoring Award, Division of Psychotherapy, American Psychological Association, 2013
- Carolyn Attneave Award for Contributions to Diversity, Society of Family Psychology, 2013
- Washington State Psychological Association Social Issues Award, 2014
- Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award, Division of Trauma Psychology of the American Psychological Association, 2015