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Melissa Kennedy, PhD

Antioch University Seattle

After working for over a decade in the area of international and cross-cultural education, I began graduate work in the field of psychology. My initial graduate degree was an M.A. in Existential Phenomenological Psychology at Seattle University. Early in this program, I decided I wanted to pursue a doctoral degree, and upon completion of my MA, I applied and was accepted into the PhD in Clinical Psychology program at Seattle Pacific University. I have always been grateful for my philosophical foundation while appreciating the rigor and scientific emphasis of my PhD program. During my studies, I hoped for a career in clinical psychology, with perhaps teaching a bit on the side.

Following graduation, however, I began teaching full-time at both Antioch University Seattle, and Holy Names Academy, with a small clinical practice. Eventually, I consolidated my teaching to Holy Names Academy, then shifted solely in private practice. After 5 years of full-time private practice, I found myself missing teaching and returned to Antioch University Seattle, shifting back to an emphasis on teaching, with a small clinical practice.

Clinical Interest

I am a relational psychologist, with a firm foundation in the intersection of neurological science and clinical practice, as well as existential and self-psychology. My clinical interests include psychology of women and gender issues, chronic mental illness and personality disorders, and processes of growth and change. I retain a keen interest in multicultural psychology, social psychology, and existential philosophy. These areas overlap with my research interests.

Educational History

  • Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, Seattle Pacific University (Seattle, WA)
    Dissertation: Experiencing Interpersonal Grace: Transformation Following Experiences of Disgrace, Cognate Concentration: Organizational Psychology
  • M.A., Applied Psychology, Existential Phenomenology, Seattle University (Seattle, WA)
  • B.A., French, minor in Psychology and International Affairs, Illinois Wesleyan University (Bloomington, IL)

Teaching Statement

My teaching philosophy mirrors my clinical philosophy; we are deeply social beings. As humans, when met with care and compassion in our lives, we have opportunities to thrive and become our true, best selves. Here at AUS, I strive to help each student find their true self, to thrive through honest and genuine collaboration, to explore and investigate their passions.

Education, is in my experience, a reciprocal process. I attempt to share my knowledge and expertise with students, who then in turn, share their knowledge and expertise with me. Together, we create a rich and meaningful exchange in which we both come away with more passion and knowledge than when we began. The poet and writer, Rilke, encourages us to love the questions. As a teaching philosophy, nothing says it better for me – fostering a love of the questions is my most sincere teaching goal. Creating a supporting, curious, and inspiring environment in the classroom, our university community, and the broader community outside academia, allows learning, mutual understanding, and healthy relationships both within and between individuals.

I bring passionate curiosity and a true respect for each person’s experience into teaching, supervision, and research. I challenge our students to find their passions, and share their knowledge through their own clinical work and research. A student once told me that she was amazed by how much I cared whether students learned from me ~ she was right. I truly care about my students and seek to create opportunities for the integration of intellectual curiosity with hands-on clinical work and intriguing research, contributing to the experience of AUS as a crucible for true practitioner-scholars.

Dr. Kennedy leads the research group Relational Treatment of Clinical Complexity: Mind, Body, & Personality.

The goal of this interest and research group is to foster collaborative learning, research initiatives and opportunities, and development of advanced skills in intervention related to the intersection of complex clinical presentations (i.e., complex trauma, personality disorders) and relational theories/interventions. Typically, transdiagnostic in scope, relational theories are based on the premise that we are social beings, and as such, our relationships with others are determine our sense of security, sense of self, and motivate behavior. Current relational theories to be explored include: Interpersonal or Relational Neurobiological, offering both a theory and a practical working model of human development and functioning as a product of the interplay of mind, body, and relationships. Polyvagal Theory, which seeks to explore an individual’s movement through mobilization, disconnection, and engagement as they seek safety in overcoming challenging life experiences and trauma. Radically Open DBT, which provides a framework and treatment for overcontrolled personality structures, a developing conceptualization of the most common, cluster C personality disorders (Avoidant, Depressive, Obsessive-Compulsive). Neuropsychoanalysis, which examines the intersection of current psychodynamic theories and neurology. Additional areas of potential study include mind-body complex trauma treatment and theories of mentalization.

  • Moritsugu, J., Vera, E.M., Harmon Jacobs, J., & Kennedy, M. (2016). Psychology of Adjustment. Thousand Oaks, CA. Sage Publications.
  • Kennedy, M.J. (2011). Experiences of Interpersonal Grace: Transformation following experiences of disgrace. Saarbrucken, GM: VDM Verlang Dr. Muller.
  • Kennedy, M. J. (2011). Using Psychology to Learn Psychology, Visual Preface, and AP Question Editor. In D. Bernstein’s Psychology, 9th Ed., AP Edition. New York, NY: Wadsworth Publishing.
  • Excellence in Teaching Award 2011 American Psychological Association
  • Distinguished Teacher of the Year 2010 Holy Names Academy
  • Dickinson Fellow 2003 – 2004 Living Well Initiative, Seattle Pacific University
  • America Psychological Association
  • APA Divisions:
    • #35: Society for the Psychology of Women
    • #40: Clinical Neuropsychology
    • #8: Personality & Social Psychology
  • APA Practice Organization
  • Global Association for Interpersonal Neurobiology Studies (GAINS)
  • The Neuropsychoanalysis Association (NPSA)
  • Washington State Psychological Association
  • The Association for Psychological Science
Melissa Kennedy

Teaching Faculty,

Clinical Psychology


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