Caley O’Dwyer, MFA, MA, MFT

Antioch University
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Caley O’Dwyer, MA, MFT, MFA specializes in both Psychology and Creative Writing and is an Affiliate faculty member in the Division of Undergraduate Studies at AULA. He also teaches as an adjunct instructor in AULA’s Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology Program and has taught extensively at University of California at Irvine, where he earned his MFA, and at the University of Southern California, where he taught writing for ten years. Caley’s course offerings in undergraduate psychology have included The Psychology of Happiness, Sources of Creativity: Theory and Practice, The Psychology of Consumer Behavior, Applications of Psychology in the 21st Century, and Human Sexualities. His undergraduate creative writing courses at AULA have included Writing as Seeing: Understanding the Poetic Self, Advanced Multi-genre Creative Writing Workshop, Two Hawks Quarterly, and The Art of Humor. He’s also taught Clinical Practicum, Personality Theory II: Comparative Contemporary Theories, and Process of Interpersonal Therapy II in AULA’s graduate psychology program and primers in Narrative and Solution Focused therapies at Philips Graduate Institute.

Caley is a poet and a painter. Caley’s poetry collection, Full Nova, was published in 2001 by Orchises Press and poetry on the paintings of Mark Rothko has been on display at the Tate Modern Museum in London and published in numerous literary journals, including Alaska Quarterly Review, Prairie Schooner, Cream City Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Ekphrasis, and others.  His paintings have been on display at a number of spaces in Los Angles, including at Bergamot Station, ArtShare LA, and other venues.

Alongside his teaching and writing, Caley provides strength-based therapy in his private practice in downtown Los Angeles, where he helps people draw upon their hopes, skills, interests and values to renegotiate relationships with problems and create new, preferred life possibilities. Caley is particularly interested in helping people whose lives don’t seem to and/or don’t want to match up with dominant cultural expectations. Culture, wonderful as it is, often plays a significant part in sustaining relationships with problems. Caley is interested in helping people renegotiate these relationships. His private practice is next door to his art studio and on the days that he’s not teaching or biking down the LA River, he quite happily goes back and forth between painting and conversations with clients. He works with creative people of all kinds and especially loves working with young adults.


Affiliate Faculty

BA in Liberal Studies

BA, Sarah Lawrence College (1992)
MFA in Creative Writing, University of California, Irvine (1999)
MA in Counseling Psychology, Phillips Graduate Institute (2008)

Central to all of my endeavors in teaching is cultivation of fascination. I believe we learn best when we’re excited about our subject matter and when the instructor has created a clear framework within which to play with ideas and to explore new avenues of critical and/or creative exploration. Learning, to my thinking, involves serious, adult play. I’m more interested in deconstruction of dominantly held ideas and cultural prescriptions for creativity, selfhood, morality, etc. than I am in their recapitulation or in pursuing the ability to know within them what is already known.

I became a postmodern, specifically narrative psychotherapist because I believe that the language we use to construct our world and the stories we tell about our lives are not merely individual but relational and because I appreciate a respectful, strengths-based approach to counseling. Language, I think, is inherently political because language orients to power. Language can equalize, normalize and create solidarity as well as it can divide, disempower, or be co-opted by insidious institutional forces that don’t have our interests at heart. So I’m interested in thinking with students about how culture and its institutions compel us into thinking about ourselves and each other.

Much of my teaching in psychology focuses on intersections between the relational individual, language, commerce, culture and power. We explore all of this heavily in The Psychology of Consumer Behavior, for example. On the other side of a continuum, we explore in great depth what we mean by “happiness”, the cultural relativism of definitions of happiness, and the positive psychology science of well-being in Psychology of Happiness.

Above all, in my writing, teaching, and psychotherapy I am most interested in well-being. I intend to harness and develop students’ critical thinking capacities in order to ferret out what limits well-being and how to cultivate more of it.

In creative writing courses I seek to develop students’ diverse individual intentions and talents in their writing and to assist them in writing the best work they possibly can. I provide rich samples of published writing, invite critical analysis of technical skill, and encourage students to extend their creative writing process to include (typically) more drafting, more playing, and more “sideshadowing” than they usually would. “Sideshadows,” suggests literary theorist Gary Saul Morson, are the “ghostly presence of might-have-beens or might-bes” in our writing. Unlike foreshadowing, which portends the inevitable, a draft’s sideshadows indicate “a haze of possibilities” (Gary Saul Morson, from Narrative and Freedom: Shadows of Time, p. 118, Yale University Press, 1996). I invite student writers to amble in this haze and its tributaries before locking down their work. With Sideshadowing, work that has been locked, may be unlocked.

Even in poetry workshops where the primary texts are student poems, I bring case-in-point examples of craft problems and craft successes and, where possible, examples of the exploratory process the poets undertook to arrive at the published artifact. I believe it’s helpful for poets to become aware of the history of the particular poetic forms and rhetorical modes they’re writing in, to read copious examples and to read closely associated critical writing. If one is writing ekphrastic verse, for example, it’s good to know something about the pool of precedent ekphrastic literature. In other words, I want my students to know that we don’t work in a vacuum and that the study of poetry as literature gives us additional writerly tools, even as it draws out our own unique creative talents.

What’s at stake in cultivating genuine student passion for thinking and writing is partly the importance of facilitating the ability to teach oneself. Thus much of my behavior as a teacher intends to replicate (and be) the various processes good students develop on their way to becoming teachers of themselves and others. My goal is to provide students with the writing, critical thinking, motivational, and other skills necessary to effectively navigate and produce information in the absence, ultimately, of instruction.

Full Nova. Washington, D.C., Orchises Press, 2001. Poetry.

Levure Littéraire. 2017. “Dark Greens on Blue with Green Band,” “Slate Blue on Brown and Plum,” “Rust and Blue.”
Live Encounters. 2017. “The Groves,” “Le Caverne Maudite,” “Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome,” “Green Light.”
Levure Littéraire. 2016. “Light, Earth and Blue,” “White and Greens in Blue,” “Orange and Brown,” “American Proverb,” “Derby in Polymer,” and  “A Desperate Situation.”
Two Hawks Quarterly. 2014. “Mauve,” and “White Cloud.”
Warwick Review. 2013. “Blue Penumbra.”
Curator Magazine. 2013. “Separation and Packaging.”
Cream City Review. 2012. “Reds.”
Zocalo Public Square. 2012. “Bikini Factory.”
The Spoon River Poetry Review. 2011. “Field Design.”
Zocalo Public Square. 2010. “Green and Blue, 1957.”
Ekphrasis. 2009. “Yellow Greens, 1953,” “Black on Maroon, 1959,” “Violet, Black, Orange, Yellow on White and Red, 1949.”
Burnside Review. 2008. “Blue, Green, and Brown, 1952.”
Tuesday. 2007. “White Center, 1957.”
Orange Coast Review. 2007. “Moving On” and “Untitled, 1949.”
Pearl. Spring 2007. “Help.”
Faultline. 2005. “Untitled, 1969,” “Full Nova,” and “Black on Maroon, 1959.”
Alaska Quarterly Review. 2003. “Untitled, 1968” and “Four Darks in Red.”
Prairie Schooner. 2003. “Brown and Gray, 1970” and “Black and Blue.”
Many Mountains Moving. 2003. “Snake” and “He Clicks and Waits.”
Web Del Sol. 2001. “Untitled, 1969,” “Green and Tangerine on Red,” and “Magenta, Black, Green on Orange, 1949.”
UCI Journal. 2001. “Today is a Good Day for Beating up Roger.
Hayden’s Ferry Review. 2000. “In the Cool House.”
Poet Lore. 2000. “Walk Home.”
Texas Review. 2000. “Chillicothe.”
Tex!  (appeared as a supplement in The Dallas Morning News). 2000. “Texas” (an “Images of Texas” contest winner, selected by Pulitzer Prize Winner Yusef Komunyakaa).
Faultline. 2000. “Don’t Look in the Lake Boat,” “Scully’s Father in Space,” and “Plastic Lilies.”
Washington Square. 1999. “Afterward.”
Santa Barbara Review. 1998. “Ice Victim at Lake Winnipeg” and “Yellow Coreopsis.”
Spelunker Flophouse. 1997. “Yellow Coreopsis.”
The Quarterly. 1995. “The Color Birds.”
Sarah Lawrence Review. 1992. “Goldfish.”

Monster Verse: Poems Human and Inhuman. Fall 2015. Everyman’s Library /Penguin Books.  “My Parents Were Monsters.” Eds. Tony Barnstone and Michelle Mitchell-Foust.
Dustup: New California Writers. 2004. “Betty” and “Nearly There.” Ed. Phil Hay.
Texas in Poetry: A 150-Year Anthology. 2002. Texan Christian University Press.
“Texas.” Ed.   Billy Bob Hill.
Anteater Reader: 2002. Pearson Publishing. “Scully’s Father in Space.” Ed. Ray Zimmerman.

Recipient of a Helene Wurlitzer Grant for poetry (1993)
Recipient of an Academy of American Poets University and College prize (1998)
Winner of the The Dallas Morning News “Images of Texas” poetry contest, judged by 
Yusef Komunyakaa (2000)
Three-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize for Poetry
Recipient of Humanities UCI Faculty Career Development Award (2002)
Humanities Lecturer of the Year Award, University of California, Irvine, (2001)
Recipient of University of California, Irvine’s Instructional Technology Mini-Grant Program award for development of the WR 39C Student “Essentials” website (2002)
USC Parents Association Outstanding Teaching and Mentoring Award (2009)
USC’s Advanced Writing Teaching Award (2010)

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