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Great Therapists' Stories Collected on Web Site Created by ODU Counseling Professor

The leaders in the fields of counseling and psychology have had a huge impact on their profession, and on society in general.

Now, an Old Dominion University professor wants to celebrate their achievements by collecting stories from colleagues, former clients and friends who have memories of interactions with these giants in the field.

Using an ODU Faculty Innovator Grant, Professor of Counseling and Human Services Ed Neukrug has created Stories of the Great Therapists, a Web site dedicated to celebrating the mental health and counseling field.

In the tradition of National Public Radio's "Storycorps Recording America," the project is in the process of collecting oral histories concerning famous theorists of counseling and psychotherapy.

"A surprising number of my colleagues have had interactions with these pioneers in the field, collaborating on research, as their students," Neukrug said. "We hope that these stories will help to personalize the individuals who created these well-known theories and offer a glimpse into their lives."

With the site up and running, and stories trickling in from across the United States, Neukrug is now looking for grant money to turn the site into an interactive teaching tool and oral history of the profession.

There are currently about a dozen biographies of great theorists on the Web site, including B.F. Skinner, Carl Rogers and Virginia Satir.

Neukrug hopes to increase the number of profiles to 25, collecting oral and written stories about each theorist. Then they'll be catalogued by family member, colleague, client, people the theorists have mentored, and others who may have had significant interactions.

"We've put together some pretty intensive biographies of these different people," he said. "Then I started having these ideas about expanding the Web site, so it can be a teaching tool and an oral history of the profession."

Eventually, Neukrug would like to add historical artifacts such as pictures and documents, and use additional Web technologies such as podcasts, blogs and a public wiki to create as full a picture of the pioneers as possible.

Finally, he hopes to analyze the information gathered on the Web site and summarize the words and concepts the theorists have put forward that have influenced American culture.

"There are so many expressions that are part of everyday life that were popularized by these people," he said. "These individuals have so influenced the American culture and beyond.

"The unconscious. In touch with myself. Self-reflection. All these things are terms that people didn't use before, but they've been adopted by society, which shows how these people have influenced culture and thinking."

The Stories of the Great Therapists Web site is available at www.odu.edu/sgt. Oral and written history submissions are welcome.

This article was posted on: May 4, 2009

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