Faculty, Psychology and Counseling Program
Residency Site: Plainfield VT
Deborah Jean Armstrong, Ph.D., LMFT-S, RPT-S, REAT, REACE
Dr. Armstrong is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in Expressive and Play Therapies with over 30 years of experience. She has taught in graduate programs training therapists for over 20 years. Her wide-ranging interests express a life-long curiosity about consciousness and the nature of what grows, disrupts, and repairs disrupted well-being.
Dr. Armstrong is devoted to training therapists who will engage in practices that are collaborative and creative. She brings to her work strong expertise in Interpersonal Neurobiology, a perspective that integrates consilient findings of well-being and disruption to well being from diverse disciplines, very importantly neuroscience and spiritual traditions.
Dr. Armstrong serves as Coordinator of the Expressive Arts Concentration and engages personally in a range of expressive arts including multimedia collage, film-making, authentic movement, altering books, drumming, and sandtray. She works out of her practice, The Mindgarden Centre, where she does clinical work, supervises therapists and conducts training programs. Dr. Armstrong is also on the faculty at the Creative Arts Institute in Beijing, where she teaches Dance Therapists how to work expressively with Dreams.
Dr. Armstrong is a member of the following professional associations: American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, Association for Play Therapy, International Expressive Arts Therapy Association, International Association for the Study of Dreams, and The Global Association for Interpersonal Neurobiology.
PhD in Psychology, Alliant International University
MA in Marriage and Family Therapy, Chapman University
MA in Developmental Psychology; Chapman University
BA in Sociology with minors in Psychology and Dance, Chapman University
Areas of Expertise
- Marriage and Family Therapy
- Interpersonal Neurobiology
- Expressive Arts Therapy
- Postmodern-Narrative Psychotherapy
When I consider what early experiences have informed the work that I do and the person I am, I begin remembering many of what might be called ‘big’ dreams that I had as a child and an adolescent. When I was 16, I was struck by reading a foundational text in play therapy, Dibs, In Search of Self, by Virginia Axline. I went on to complete a dissertation study validating the phenomenon of Lucid Dreams in school-age children and I am a Registered Play Therapy Supervisor.
Importantly, I integrate play and dreamwork into my clinical work with clients of all ages. I graduated with a PhD in Psychology from Alliant International University in San Diego, CA and received master’s degrees in Marriage and Family Therapy and in Developmental Psychology from Chapman University in Orange, CA.
Early in my career I worked predominantly with young children and families who were encountering violence and marginalization in their lives, and have more recently focused on working with couples and with those who have encountered trauma.
Since completing my doctorate I have woven a professional life that integrates teaching, clinical practice, and a measure of research. I have a range of interests that express a common thread around my life-long curiosity in consciousness and the nature of what grows and disrupts our well-being. I am particularly inspired by those who bring together diverse ideas, research findings, and disciplines in ways that are thoughtful, well organized and also dive deeply into meaning.
Most recently I have been studying the field of Interpersonal Neurobiology, a perspective that brings together consilient findings from a diverse range of disciplines, including neuroscience and spiritual traditions. I have served as President of California and the South Carolina state chapters of the Association for Play Therapy and on the Board of Directors for the International Association for the Study of Dreams.
I am an active member and occasional presenter for the following associations: the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists; the Global Association for Interpersonal Neurobiology; the Sandtray Network International; and the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association. Having substantial postgraduate study in Postmodern-Narrative Psychotherapy and Expressive Therapies I am devoted to training therapists who will engage in practices that are collaborative and creative. I am acutely aware of how systems and contexts inform what we view as ‘problems in living’, how we identify and treat these ‘experiences’, and very simply, how humans may suffer deeply due to these practices.
Right now I am beginning to explore the landscape of community-driven art engagement, with one example being the Theatre of the Oppressed. I have a practice, The Mindgarden, where I specialize in working with couples and those who have encountered trauma using expressive therapies as well as trauma-focused treatments such as EMDR.
What I hope to bring to Goddard begins with my being receptive to what begins to grow out of the heads and hearts of students, faculty, staff, and the larger community. I have some skills in riding tensions that come with creating and bring into life new dreams ‘using’ the expressive art as a vehicle for discovering the growing edge of what’s next!
On a personal note, I grew up in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; lived for thirty years in Southern California; and moved to Greenville, South Carolina ten years ago. I have two daughters, Amber and Rachel.