Terri Christiansen, Ph.D., Assistant Professor

  Assistant Professor
  708-235-3959 ext. 3959
  Office Location: G320
  College: COE

I have a confession.  One of the main things I enjoy about teaching at GSU is essentially quite selfish.  I genuinely love the opportunity to facilitate the academic, personal, and professional growth of students – which in turn facilitates my academic, personal and professional growth.  It is truly one of the great ironies that I am unable to teach a lesson without having learned a lesson or two for myself in the process.  Our student body comes from diverse backgrounds, experiences, philosophies and learning experiences that foster unique perspectives and dynamic classroom discussions.   I am indebted to the students and faculty at GSU who have already taught me so much.  It is truly a “rush” to be a part of generating new ideas and fresh outlooks that engage excitement and interest in the learning of psychology.

My role in the efforts to re-establish the School Psychology program at GSU has also been extremely rewarding.  School Psychology is a rapidly growing field that encompasses clinical, educational, and developmental aspects of psychology.  My interest and passion for those areas were initially grounded in my early personal experiences with children in the foster care system that faced overwhelming odds in their life journeys.  I had an intense desire to promote social justice for all children and to equalize the playing field within the educational setting through direct (e.g., testing, counseling, and parent training) and indirect (e.g., collaboration with educators, parents, and individuals/professionals in the broader community) interventions and services.  At this point in my professional career, it is an incredible honor to have the opportunity to educate and train future school psychologists in an institution that offers such rich multicultural diversity and embraces innovative teaching blended with high standards.  It has also been fun and intellectually stimulating to interact with senior faculty members who have been generous in sharing their experiences and insights while brainstorming about innovative ways to nurture the new program. 

Prior to joining the faculty at GSU, I had the opportunity to acquire 18 years of school and clinical work.  Within that timeframe, I was able to engage in a wide variety of activities that included parent education, workshop presentations and lecturing in a university healthcare setting.  Collectively, these experiences have created a framework through which to integrate experiences in school and clinical practice with didactic experiences and pedagogy to support my teaching efforts.  Since my arrival at GSU two years ago, I’ve especially enjoyed collaborating with colleagues and students on research projects and serving as a mentor and advisor to both undergraduate and graduate students.  My areas of research interest include acculturation, biracial identity development, contemplative educational approaches, and social emotional aspects of learning. 

Community service and social justice have always been central to my professional and personal endeavors.  Apart from pro bono services that I have offered through my practice and work with community agencies, I have a deep commitment to my involvement with the Special Olympics and volunteering in supporting the development of staff and parents of children on the autism spectrum.  In my free time, I appreciate the opportunity to catch my breath by enjoying simple things such as spending time with family and friends, running and reading.