Psychology professor shares passion for helping mental illness patients

Claudia Porras Pyland outdoors on TWU's Denton campus.

Associate professor and director of TWU’s counseling psychology master's program, Claudia Porras Pyland, Ph.D., knew from an early age that she wanted to become a psychologist. 

“My mom was a foster parent for children with physical and mental disorders,” said Porras Pyland. “My foster siblings served as an inspiration to learn everything I could about their mental illness and how to help them.” 

Porras Pyland’s dedication to helping people struggling with mental illness brought her to Texas Tech University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology before pursuing her master’s in educational psychology and her doctorate in counseling psychology at Oklahoma State University. Prior to coming to TWU, she served as a faculty member at New Mexico State University.

“As a first generation college student from a working class background, I am most proud of my first academic job straight out of graduate school. During a time when I struggled with the imposter syndrome, it was a reminder that I did belong in a world that had seemed so foreign at one point,” said Porras Pyland.

My mom was a foster parent for children with physical and mental disorders. My foster siblings served as an inspiration to learn everything I could about their mental illness and how to help them.

While looking for a position in the North Texas area that would bring her closer to her then-partner and current husband, Porras Pyland settled on TWU after learning about its counseling psychology program’s mission and values. “I wanted to work at a place that emphasized training in cultural diversity and feminism,” said Porras Pyland.

Her areas of interest and research are focused on developing treatment interventions for both survivors and perpetrators of intimate partner violence as well as supporting academic success and resilience in students of color.

Porras Pyland has published book chapters and academic articles about treatment approaches for relationally violent men, criminal thought processes, and feminist therapy pioneer Annette Brodsky. She recently appeared as an expert on Telemundo Dallas broadcasts in discussions about school shootings and online support groups for psychiatric disorders.

As a first generation college student from a working class background, I am most proud of my first academic job straight out of graduate school.

In addition to her personal experiences, Porras Pyland draws inspiration from her professional role models, including counseling psychology professor and LGBTQ activist Tania Israel; psychotherapist, author and podcaster Esther Perel; associate professor and self compassion researcher Kristin Neff; and Brene Brown, an author and professor known for her research in the areas of courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy.

Media Contact

Anna Ryan
Writer
940-898-3325
aryan1@twu.edu

Page last updated 9:49 AM, October 8, 2019