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September 7, 2011

Psychology Professor Recognized by American Psychological Association

Jamie Aten

Wheaton College psychology professor Dr. Jamie Aten was recently awarded the Margaret Gorman Early Career Award by the American Psychological Association (APA).

The award, which recognizes scholarly excellence in the study of the psychology of religion, is sponsored by the Society for the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality (Division 36) within the APA. Awardees are nominated by leaders in the field and selected by a panel of peers from an international pool of nominees.

Dr. Aten’s work focuses primarily on treating trauma in Christian counseling and psychotherapy, with an emphasis on equipping churches and faith-based groups to prepare and respond to disasters.

The selection committee chose to award Aten for his research into the psychology of religion and disaster, including research related to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Hurricane Gustav in 2008, and the Mississippi Delta tornadoes and the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill, both in 2010.

Aten, who joined the faculty of Wheaton College as the Dr. Arthur P. Rech and Mrs. Jean May Rech Associate Professor of Psychology last year, is the first scholar in the country to develop a research program focused on the psychology of religion and disasters. He previously served as Assistant Director of the Katrina Research Center and as an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Southern Mississippi. Aten has been awarded more than $1 million in external funding by various state, federal, and non-profit entities for his research. He has published three books and numerous journal articles.

“Dr. Aten has accomplished a lot in a thus-far short professional career,” says Dr. Thomas Plante, a psychology professor at Santa Clara University and president of the APA’s Division 36. “His research and scholarly work is impressive, important, and is an excellent example of trying to use the best that clinical science has to offer to assist real people with real problems.”

“I’m humbled to follow in the steps of those who have received this award before me, and I am grateful for the way they have paved a path for psychologists around the country to pursue and advance research in the psychology of religion,” Aten says.

Aten teaches in Wheaton’s graduate program in psychology, which awards an M.A. in Counseling Ministries and an M.A. and Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology. He also co-directs the Applied Research Lab (ARL) at Wheaton College, an international, interdisciplinary program which engages students in research and project development related to humanitarian services and disasters.