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Yale Gordon College of Arts and Sciences

Elaine Johnson

Elaine JohnsonElaine Johnson

clinical associate professor
Division of Applied Behavioral Sciences

Additional Roles:

director, M.S. in Applied Psychology program

Contact Information:

Phone: 410.837.6683
E-mail: eljohnson@ubalt.edu

M.S., Ph.D., Iowa State University
B.A., Central College

I was sleeping through my 1 p.m. class in Personality Theory one day (I always got sleepy after lunch in college) when the words of the professor shot through the haze in my brain: Alfred Adler, he was saying, theorized that everyone experiences a sense of "inferiority" and develops a particular style of life in response. The response can be either positive—personally and socially beneficial—or negative and potentially devastating for the person and society as well.

The time was the l960s, and I was a sociology major taking the psych class as an elective. It was a time of great social unrest. Our cities had seen major rioting from exploding racial tensions, the civil rights movement was pushing forward, my friends were being drafted out of college for an increasingly unpopular war in Vietnam and "flower children" of my age were "dropping out" and seeing the "establishment" as pretty much having made a mess of the country.

We had seen the tragic murders of Martin Luther King Jr. and both John and Robert Kennedy. I was deeply concerned about social issues and trying to figure out a way to use my education to address them in some way. Here—kaboom—was a system of thought that offered one potential explanation for the origin of social and personal problems. I was hooked!

I changed my major, in my senior year, to psychology. The professor who had reached through to me, Dan Bergman, had been a student of Carl Rogers, when Rogers was a professor at the University of Chicago. I spent my final college year immersed in learning a view of humanity and our potential as human beings—the ideas formulated by Rogers—from Bergman.

My life wasn't going to be the same after what started out to be a sleepy class in personality theory. The social justice and hopefulness inherent in humanistic psychology powered me to earn my Ph.D. in counseling psychology and launch a career as a therapist and academician with widely varied challenges and rewards. Throughout this period, there were even more exceptionally talented people who were first my mentors and then my colleagues. It became my passion to teach, mentor and possibly even inspire others toward their potential.

Currently I teach basic and advanced graduate counseling courses. I am also the director of the M.S. in Applied Psychology program.

My passion and my rewards are in connecting with students' creative minds, energies, idealism and desire to do the work of counseling, one fully conscious and socially just moment at a time. Once in a while, I get to see someone's brain wake up, as mine did. Mostly, however, I find that the University of Baltimore's graduate students are already awake, aware and know where they want to go. I find I am in very good company in my work with UB students.

The collegiality in the Division of Applied Behavioral Sciences, the commitment of the faculty to excel in teaching and the support that others offer me in building and expanding our counseling programs are extremely rewarding aspects of my work.

Drop by our division—you might decide to stay for a while and maybe even make a career out of it!