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Thema Bryant-Davis Faculty Profile

Thema Bryant, Ph.D.

Psychology Division, Online Psychology Division, Graduate School of Education and Psychology


Dr. Thema Bryant is currently a tenured professor of psychology in the Graduate School of Education and Psychology at Pepperdine University, where she directs the Culture and Trauma Research Laboratory. 
Dr. Thema teaches in Pepperdine University’s PsyD in Clinical Psychology program and MA in Clinical Psychology (Evening Format) program and currently instructs the courses on the left.

She has also previously taught the following courses:

  • Social Psychology, Individual
  • Couple and Family Development: A Life Cycle Approach
  • Clinical Skills Intensive
  • Trauma Treatment
  • Expressive Arts Therapy
  • Human Sexuality
  • Professional Practice & Mental Health Systems
  • Intimate Partner Abuse
  • Individual and Family Development across the Lifespan
  • Trauma Recovery
  • Intimate Partner Violence
  • Mental Health Systems, Practice, and Advocacy

Dr. Thema is the president-elect of the American Psychological Association, the leading scientific and professional organization representing psychology with more than 120,000 members (apa.org).

Dr. Thema Bryant completed her doctorate in Clinical Psychology at Duke University and her post-doctoral training at Harvard Medical Center’s Victims of Violence Program. Upon graduating, she became the Coordinator of the Princeton University SHARE Program, which provides intervention and prevention programming to combat sexual assault, sexual harassment, and harassment based on sexual orientation. 
Her clinical and research interests center on interpersonal trauma and the societal trauma of oppression. In 2007 the American Psychological Association awarded her the Emerging Leader of Women in Psychology Award for her scholarship and clinical work on violence against women. In addition, she was awarded the Sarah Allen Research on the Status of Black Women Award. Her research expertise is in the cultural context of trauma, particularly child abuse, partner abuse, sexual assault, and the societal trauma of racism. She directs the Culture and Trauma Research Lab which studies the intersection of cultural context and trauma recovery. Dr. Bryant’s work has been highlighted on BET and PBS, as well as in the Trenton Times, Herald Sun, and Boston Globe.
Dr. Bryant is author of the book Thriving in the Wake of Trauma: A Multicultural Guide and is published in the journals The Counseling Psychologist, Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, and Trauma, Violence, and Abuse. Dr. Bryant serves on the Editorial Board for the journal Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy. Her book chapters can be found in the books The Complete Guide to Mental Health for Women, The Psychology of Racism and Discrimination, The Encyclopedia of Psychological Trauma, and Featuring Females; Feminist Analyses of the Media. Dr. Thema recently just published another book entitled “Home Coming: Overcome Fear and Trauma to Reclaim Your Whole Authentic Self” in 2022. In addition, she hosts a podcast entitled “The Homecoming Podcast”. Dr. Thema has been featured in various TV, newspaper, articles, and media outlets which can be found here.
On a global level, Dr. Bryant was previously selected as an American Psychological Association representative to the United Nations where she provided education, advocacy, and monitoring of Member States' mental health policies for three years, and served as the Global and International Issues Chairperson for the Society for the Psychology of Women. She is also a past president of the Society for the Psychology of Women and also served on the APA Committee on International Relations in Psychology and the Committee on Women in Psychology.
The American Psychological Association honored her for Distinguished Early Career Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest in 2013. The Institute of Violence, Abuse and Trauma honored her with their media award for the film Psychology of Human Trafficking in 2016 and the Institute honored her with the Donald Fridley Memorial Award for excellence in mentoring in the field of trauma in 2018. The California Psychological Association honored her for Distinguished Scientific Achievement in Psychology in 2015. She is the editor of the APA text Multicultural Feminist Therapy: Helping Adolescent Girls of Color to Thrive. She is one of the foundational scholars on the topic of the trauma of racism and in 2020, she gave an invited keynote address on the topic at APA. In 2020, the International Division of APA honored her for her International Contributions to the Study of Gender and Women for her work in Africa and the Diaspora. Dr. Thema has raised public awareness regarding mental health by extending the reach of psychology beyond the academy and private therapy office through community programming and media engagement, including but not limited to Headline News, National Public Radio, and CNN.



  • PhD, Duke University
  • MA, Duke University
  • BA, Duke University
  • 2013 Distinguished Early Career Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest by the American Psychology Association
  • 2015 Distinguished Scientific Achievement in Psychology by The California Psychological Association
  • 2016 Media Award for the film Psychology of Human Trafficking by The Institute of Violence, Abuse and Trauma
  • 2018 Donald Fridley Memorial Award by The Institute of Violence, Abuse and Trauma

Areas of Expertise

  • Domestic abuse
  • Sexual trauma
  • War trauma
  • Human trafficking
  • Racism and discrimination
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Mental Health


  • Trauma
  • Violence
  • Racism


  • PSY 794: Dissertation Project A
  • PSY 795: Dissertation Project B
  • PSY 796: Dissertation Project C
  • PSY 797: Dissertation Writing A
  • PSY 798: Dissertation Writing B
  • PSY 799: Dissertation Completion
  • PSY 800: Dissertation Supervision
  • PSY 669: Trauma in Diverse Populations
  • PSY 703: Social Foundations
  • PSY 738: Theories and Techniques of Multicultural and Community Interventions: A
  • PSY 771/772: Practicum Clinical Intensive