Division of Applied Behavioral Sciences
director, Certificate in Professional Counseling Studies program
Psy.D., M.A., La Salle University
B.A., Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
John Donahue's C.V. (PDF)
As an undergraduate at Rutgers University, I was fascinated with both human behavior and criminology, graduating as a dual major in psychology and administration of justice. I didn’t know what to do after that, so I took a civil service test. My first job was as a probation officer, conducting pre-sentence investigations in Camden, NJ. I interviewed hundreds of defendants at one of their most vulnerable periods – often minutes after the determination of guilt. During that time, I gained a greater understanding of the interplay between early learning experiences, societal forces, and the development of psychopathology and problematic behaviors. Yet still, this understanding was dwarfed by more questions.
When I began doctoral training in clinical psychology at La Salle University, I was full of ideas and questions, though I didn’t know how to evaluate them effectively. Graduate school taught me to think clearly about a question, break down its assumptions, and identify methods of examining it. I became particularly excited about the field of emotion regulation. How do the ways in which we relate and respond to our emotions impact our life? A clinical internship in the Federal Bureau of Prisons and research fellowship at the Portland VA Medical Center highlighted to me the deceptive nature of certain emotion regulation strategies. Many problems in living can be viewed as a function of rigid overapplication of coping strategies that protect us from pain and distress in the short-term, while actually prolonging suffering in the long-term. In order to pursue meaningful and value-driven lives, how can we learn to change our relationship with the distress that inevitably arises?
I arrived at the Department of Applied Behavioral Sciences in January of 2015 and hope to further this work in the field that I love -- fostering critical thinking skills among students, cultivating an evidence-based mindset among budding therapists, and expanding a line of research on emotion regulation and mental health.