Spotlight on Faculty: Ted Bartholomew, Assistant Professor of Psychology

Bearded white man wearing plaid shirt and glasses looks to the right

This fall, 11 new tenure-track faculty members joined Scripps College. As part of our ongoing series on Scripps’ faculty, the Office of Marketing and Communications recently sat down with Ted Bartholomew to discuss international perceptions of mental illness, social justice in mental health, and baseball.

Marketing and Communications: Your research focuses on psychotherapy and mental illness from international perspectives. Tell us more about how this research has shaped your forthcoming publications.

Ted Bartholomew: Generally, my research examines what makes psychotherapy work: What is mental illness? Why is mental illness? How do you handle mental illness when it manifests? Psychotherapy was developed by white men in western contexts with white people of European descent. It would be shortsighted to believe that psychotherapy service is the only way to treat mental illness.

I have an article coming out in Culture, Medicine, and Society, written in partnership with a clinical psychologist from Namibia. The article explores Northern Namibian counselors’ perceptions of the work that they do, particularly in terms of providing western care in a non-western culture that has different perceptions of mental illness. Psychology is a young field. Western psychology shouldn’t be exported as a one-size-fits-all method of healing, and it shouldn’t erase indigenous conceptions of mental illness and care.

MC: One of your areas of research involves examining how culture and social justice play a role in mental health. How do you hope to empower your students to consider these factors in their study of psychology at Scripps?

TB: This semester I’m teaching Abnormal Psychology, and I’m having my students find articles on diverse views of mental illness and methods of care. One of the things we’ll talk about is how to rename the class, because “abnormal” is a stigmatizing label.

MC: What classes are you hoping to teach or develop at Scripps?

TB: I do a lot of qualitative and mixed methods research, which integrates multiple research methods into a single study. Most commonly, it’s the collection of two different sets of data for one study. I want to help students adopt a more pragmatic perspective to research.

Because I’m also affiliated with Africana studies, I’d like to teach a class that addresses post-colonial psychological theory in sub-Saharan Africa. I particularly want students to examine how we can avoid wholesale exportation of western theories and models to non-western places.

MC: Is there a fun fact about yourself that you’d like to share with the community?

TB: I grew up in Minnesota, so I’m a huge Minnesota Twins fan.