‘Psychology is in everything we do,’ says new Tabor prof


The new faculty member in the social-sciences department at Tabor College has no trouble analyzing why she chose to pursue the field of psychology.

“For me, the joy of teaching psychology is that psychology is in everything we do,” said Pamela Woodman, who blends her passion of teaching with her skills as a practicing psychotherapist.

“Psychology tells about how we think of ourselves, how we think of others, how we interact and how we interpret. So it’s exciting to me because no matter what a student is taking it for, my job is to show them that it’s applicable to every area of life.”

Woodman was born in Edmonton, Alberta, where she was raised and eventually graduated from high school.

After briefly attending the University of Alberta, she enrolled in the North American Institute of Technology and graduated in the early 1980s with a certificate in medical-laboratory sciences. For the next 10 years, she worked as a lab technician in clinical microbiology.

“Everything I do has been spread out,” Woodman said of the educational path she took and her eventual career change to psychology.

“For a year, I attended Bible college at Capernwray Missionary Fellowship in Mossvale, Australia, and that’s where I found my passion for psychology. And I spent three months working with a mission in New Zealand.”

She left her job in microbiology and enrolled in Augustana University College in Camrose, Alberta-where she earned an undergraduate degree in 1996 in psychology with a minor in religious studies.

At Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary in Fresno, Calif., Woodman completed her master’s in marriage, family and child counseling in 1999.

“Then I worked four years as a clinical psychotherapist with high-risk children at Visalia Youth Services in Visalia, Calif.,” Woodman said.

“The last two years, I’ve been working on the course work for my Ph.D. in clinical psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Carpinteria, Calif. I’ve finished all my course work now, so I just have to finish my dissertation.”

Once she decided to change careers, Woodman’s goal was to combine teaching and psychotherapy in an academic setting. As a member of the American Psychological Association, she searched the association’s Web site for job opportunities and discovered an opening at Tabor.

“Because I went to a Mennonite Brethren Seminary and am Mennonite Brethren in my church affiliation, I was interested in what Tabor had to offer,” Woodman said. “So it just seemed like a natural place to apply, and here I am.”

During the first semester, she will be teaching Social Psychology, Helping Relationships and Physiological Psychology-all second- through fourth-year courses.

She will also be pursuing some part-time clinical work in the surrounding area and may be involved teaching abnormal-psychology course work during January interterm.

As she settled in before the school year started, the second semester was still a work-in-progress.

“We’re still in dialogue about that because I’m going to be working on formulating some new courses,” Woodman said.

“We’ve been talking about putting together psychology of personality as well as my interests in doing a course on psychology of religion. So between this term and interterm, I’m going to be working on creating those two courses.”

Woodman described herself as a quasi-introvert-one who needs solitude when overwhelmed but who can become extroverted when talking about a subject she embraces with zeal.

“I love what I do, and I have to control myself because I like to talk about it a lot, especially when it’s the work I’ve done in the past,”she said about the two theses she completed in her undergraduate and master’s programs.

“They were both on topics of spirituality and dreams.”

But when inundated with chaos and disharmony, she said she retreats to her new Hillsboro home and her two beloved dogs-Missy and Dakota.

“I had a dog when I was a child and have always wanted one,” Woodman said. “So finally, my life was at a point three years ago when I could actually get my own dog.”

Missy is a German Shepherd-Chow mix who was joined two years ago by Dakota, a Belgian Malinois-an abandoned puppy who became instant friends with Missy and her owner.

“I’m single, and they’re my children,” Woodman said with a smile.

In addition to enjoying life with her dogs, Woodman said she likes to cook and read.

“I have hundreds of books I’ve bought, and I would love to have the time to sit down and read them,” she said.

“My favorite books are psychology, but sometimes I’ll read biblical and historical novels. And I’m not an artist or writer, but for my own soul work, I do a lot of drawing and writing. It’s self-expressive work.”

Woodman said she was looking forward to the challenges of the year and the chance to work with the Tabor community.

“I’m excited about working with the people here and learning from them how to be an effective faculty member,” Woodman said.

“The nice thing is, a lot of these people know faculty from the seminary I went to, so there’s a connection there right away.”

Having worked in the past with younger children, she will now have the opportunity to focus on getting to know the young adults enrolled as students at Tabor.

“I’m intrigued to see where there lives are right now,” Woodman said.

“It’s a whole new generation-they’re not even Generation X, they’re the Millennial Generation. They’re young individuals with very strong opinions and feelings about things. I look forward to hopefully being open and willingly learn from them.”

And she’s also anxious to get to know the people of Hillsboro and surrounding areas, she said.

“I’ve never lived in a community this small, so this is a new experience. The land is very similar to Alberta-the prairies and the wheat fields-that makes me feel at home.”

And her Tabor home is on the third floor of the Lohrenz building, an office with an open-door policy.

“I do welcome the students and hope that they will feel comfortable enough to come in and talk to me,” Woodman said.

“And hopefully, if someone has a problem, I’ll direct them to where they need to go.”

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