Featured Educator

Dr. Aphrodite Matsakis, Professor of Psychology

"I had a masters degree in education and I don't remember a single book I read then..."

"I had a masters degree in education and I don't remember a single book I read then," said Dr. Aphrodite Matsakis, a psychology professor at the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University. This teacher gained most of her knowledge through more practical and down-to-earth means. "In terms of teaching, conversations with teachers helped most. That, and pamphlets put out by University of Maryland on the do's and don'ts for teaching." Matsakis's journey into education came by way of a detour. In undergraduate school she majored in history, a subject she loved and in which she excelled. "I was a star history student, I baby-sat [the professors'] kids, they praised my writing," said Matsakis. Naturally, she assumed that an advanced degree in history would be the next right step. But this was 1968 and Matsakis was female. "They would not allow me into graduate school because I was a woman."

She was stunned by their closed-mindedness. "If you love history so much, why don't you teach it to little kids?" she was told. She didn't want to teach history to the little ones, but she decided to teach high school after obtaining a Masters of Teaching from Stanford in California.

Later, she got a full scholarship to study psychology at the University of Maryland and colleagues took note of her instructional skills even though she was in training to become a therapist. "Education is a big part of counseling," she noted. And eventually she embraced both disciplines, dividing her professional time between teaching and counseling.

She's observed some differences in students between her years working at a high school and her current experiences on a college campus. "Among the 18 to 23 year olds, they have trouble accepting that human beings can be limited by outside forces," she said. "And with the older students although they are more motivated, they can be overly ambitious. They push themselves to the max. They work, have kids, they have to take care of a sick grandmother... getting a good grade - it's not going to happen."

This teacher and therapist is also the author of ten books and a newsletter, Getting Stronger, all on the topic of mental health. Among her books:

  • I Can't Get Over It: A Handbook for Trauma Survivors
  • Trust After Trauma: A Guide for Relationships for Trauma Survivors and Those who Love Them
  • Survivors Guilt

Dr. Matsakis' books can be ordered from New Harbinger Publications at
1-800-748-6273 or visit her website at matsakis.com.