Faculty Spotlight: Shannon Wilson, Psy.D.

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“A teacher enlarges people in all sorts of ways besides just his subject matter.” – Wallace Stegner

As students, many of us possess a great deal of curiosity about the unknown lives of our professors – the journeys that led them to their present careers and what it is that they do outside of the classroom to fuel the wisdom and insight they bring to the podium. Recently, we touched base with Shannon Wilson, PsyD – who teaches PSY 659 (Behavioral Principles and Theories of Learning) and PSY 603 (Assessment of Individuals, Couples, and Families) at GSEP’s Irvine campus – to get a glimpse of her interests and work outside of Pepperdine. Here’s what she had to say…

What are your primary clinical interests?

Depression and anxiety in adolescents and adults; core beliefs; assessment.

Do you have a particular theoretical orientation?

If I had to put myself in one category, I’d say CBT is what I practice most.

Are you currently working on any research? If so, what is the focus of your research?

Yes!  I am supervising research with current Pepperdine students, focusing on the effects of laptops/cell phones (different types of technology) that may alter classroom dynamics and attention/focus levels.  I also have a very exciting opportunity coming up for our students where we will look at archival data focusing on therapy session attendance/no show rates in diverse populations; we will be looking at numerous possible correlational variables such as length of assessment period, connection/rapport with caregivers, SES levels with special focus on transportation issues, diagnoses, extent of distress, etc.

Who/what inspired you to get into your current profession?

I started off pre-med but realized my talent was in psychology.  I was soon inspired by the experiences of really helping people to live happier lives without so much suffering.  The connection I feel with my clients and students inspires me and provides much satisfaction in my profession.

One piece of advice you have for students working toward their MA in psychology?

If I could grab hold of every single student and teach them one thing only, it would be to always follow your heart and gut instincts and BE YOURSELF.  I see so many students trying to please the “profession,” trying to be what they think they should be instead of just being themselves and knowing that who they are is perfect, just the way they are.  Many of our students applying to doctoral programs attempt to mold themselves into what they think the schools are looking for instead of walking in there knowing the schools are lucky to have them.  Obviously they need to have the proper schooling, grades, experience, etc., but they forget they are okay just the way they are.

What’s the best piece of advice you received during your clinical training?

HA!  When I was faced with a decision to do what I wanted to do and what I felt was right for me versus what I was expected and told to do, some very wise person I will forever be grateful to said “Shannon, just be you…you are the best you that you can be.”  And so I did.  And I was.

One fun/interesting fact about you?

My favorite TV show is Judge Judy…I never miss an episode! My kids also have me looming (making those rubber band bracelets) constantly on the weekends; they bring me orders from all of their friends.  I am a very popular mom right now. 

Something that inspires you?

My clients that really have extremely difficult lives in numerous ways and they keep trying, keep going.

Something that turns you off?

People that have no compassion or empathy for others; lack of common sense.

If you could have dinner with anyone in history, past or present, who would it be?

I would love to have dinner with my maternal grandfather who died when I was three months old.  I want to see what he was like, his mannerisms, his humor.

What book is currently on your nightstand?  

Princess Bedtime Stories and Dragon Slayer’s Academy.  You asked!

If your life were a literary work, what would it be called?

The Mommy Who Wanted To Freeze Time So She Could Take a Nap.

What do you need to start your day?

Enough sleep! I wish I was a coffee drinker!

How do you unwind at the end of your day?

Watch Judge Judy!  Haha!  Actually, my husband and I can’t wait to get the kids into bed so we can just relax; it’s our golden time and there’s never enough of it, but that’s my favorite time of day.  The kids are safe, clean and cozy in their beds, and we get to finally relax.  Also, my blind, snorting pug snuggles with me and that relaxes me instantly!

What food can you not live without?

Mexican food!!

When I’m not teaching or seeing clients, you can find me…

Spending time with my family.

Favorite quote/words to live by?

“That’s not okay,” “that doesn’t work for me,” and “100% worthy, just the way you are.”

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