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Barbara Nelson Mullens-Rockwell - Diamond Jubilee Outstanding Alumna
Bachelor of Arts - 1942 - English
Barbara Mullens-Rockwell says her love of psychology is a legacy of her great-aunt, UW psychologist June Etta Downey. Mullens-Rockwell, a UW honor graduate, earned her MA and PhD from George Washington University. In 1991, pursuing an interest in links between spiritual teachings and psychology, she earned a Master of Theological Studies from Virginia Episcopal Theological Seminary.
In the Washington, D.C., area she has a private practice and directs psychiatric resident training at Eastern Virginia Medical School. She's on the staffs of the American University Counseling Center and the District of Columbia Adolescent Clinic, and consults at many area facilities, including Walter Reed Army Medical Center. At William and Mary's lifelong learning center, she's coordinated and taught courses in comparative religion, communication, and spiritual direction. She is founder and past president of the Orizon Institute, modeled on California's Esalen Institute. Her findings in humanistic psychology, psychotherapy, and clinical training have appeared in scientific journals, and she's conducted workshops in the U.S. and Europe. In Williamsburg, VA, she's active in Big Brothers/Big Sisters and the Task Force for Battered Women. She recalls one snowy afternoon in the old UW library: "I open a book -- I don't recall its name or author, but I do remember a tremendous rush of energy and excitement as the phrase 'The whole is greater than the sum of all its parts' jumps out at me. The subject was Gestalt Psychology. From that moment, I started on a path to search for meaning. That moment influenced my career as a psychotherapist and spiritual director, giving me a glimpse of a truth which shaped my life and work."