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Department of Psychology

Road to Psychology



Dr. John Bechtold: I have always been a “student” of human behavior and psychology, even reading psychology books in high school before it was regularly offered as a course in high school. In college I started as “Pre-Med” but soon discovered psychology was my stronger interest - even after getting a C+ in Intro to Psychology. I went to a Marriage & Family Counseling Ph.D. program at Kansas State University and did an internship counseling adolescents and families in Kansas City, MO. I liked the challenges and was offered a job at the Institute I was working at when I finished my Ph.D. but Missouri did not license Marriage and Family Therapists at that time, so I switched graduate programs to get a degree in psychology (which the state did license). In my Psychology program I got a teaching assistantship and “the rest is history.” I discovered I loved college teaching and working with college students. I have never looked back to counseling.



Dr. Henry Danso: A misconception I had about psychology led me to the field. There was an incident, during my secondary education, where the Headmaster (Principal) of our boarding school managed to calm down a displeased group of students who were fiercely protesting conditions in the school. Having watched the whole event from afar, I did not know exactly what the headmaster said but I learned that he did Psychology at the University. Wow! Enthralled by this, I resolved to take psychology when I got to college. I discovered from my Intro Psych class that the field of psychology was more diverse and exciting than “psychologizing” people (whatever that means). I like to provide intriguing interpretations and explanations for the things around me and the continual study of psychology gives me a deeper insight into human experiences. I particularly love the applied area of generating positive social change through psychological research.





Dr. Rhonda Jacobsen: I fell in love with psychology when I took the introductory course in my first semester at college. What could be more interesting and valuable than learning about human behavior? After college graduation, I taught psychology and also history at the high school level for two years and also applied for law school, intending to eventually put psychology to use in work as a lawyer or judge. But by then I was hooked on working with high school students, both as an educator and as a counselor. Accordingly, I switched from law school plans to graduate studies in psychology and education. After eleven years of work in the public schools, I was offered the opportunity to teach psychology at Messiah College. Twenty-five years later, it remains a joy to work with students and faculty, and the subject matter of psychology is still enthralling!




Dr. Chuck Jantzi: I first became interested in psychology in high school. I realized that I enjoyed helping my classmates struggling with their own personal issues, and decided to incorporate this process of listening to others and helping them sort out their problems into my future plans. I majored in psychology in my undergraduate studies which increased my interest in therapy, so I decided to attend graduate school for a Masters degree in that. During my first therapy job I was asked to see twin teen boys that no one else wanted to see. As a result of this, I found that I really enjoyed working with adolescents and went back to graduate school to work for a Psy.D. and took as many courses related to children and adolescents as I could. I continued to provide therapy after getting my Psy.D. and moved to PA to work with children and their families. I started teaching at Messiah shortly after moving to PA in 1996. Though I am no longer working with children and adolescents, I remain very interested in adolescence and therapy, and I teach both Adolescent Development and Counseling Theories here at Messiah College. I enjoy thinking about and researching the impact of today's wired culture on adolescents.




Dr. Valerie Lemmon: When I was fairly young I developed an interest in listening to other people in order to better understand them, and I decided that I would someday become a psychologist. In undergraduate school I had the opportunity to study with notable developmental and social psychology professors, but I remained primarily interested in psychology from a clinical perspective. Therefore, I pursued studying clinical psychology in graduate school while working at a psychiatric hospital, an adolescent group home, and an outpatient practice of psychology. In addition to teaching at Messiah College, I currently work part time as a licensed psychologist for Psychological Health Affiliates.




Dr. Jennifer Thomson: Growing up in a military family I was drawn to the field of psychology due to an interest in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  This interest led me to pursue an undergraduate degree in Biopsychology where I was introduced to the wonderful world of research.  I spent all four of my undergraduate years conducting research on the effects of stress on the immune system.  Following completion of my undergraduate degree I wanted to continue my education in the field and went on to complete a PhD in Neurobiology.  My graduate level research centered on drug addiction and the immunological effects of opiate drugs.  During my postdoctoral fellowship my research finally turned towards PTSD and the influence of opiate drugs on fear learning.  My research here at Messiah is focused on animal models of PTSD and the health effects of stress.    





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