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Pepperdine | Graduate School of Education and Psychology

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Robert deMayo

by Amber Kilian, former G.A.

I had the honor of speaking with our Associate Dean, Dr. Robert deMayo, a man whose career includes 18 years at the Graduate School of Education and Psychology at Pepperdine University. Dr. deMayo's unique life experience has provided him with a wealth of knowledge, insight, and education that can serve as an inspiration to us as psychology students and growing therapists.

Dr. deMayo's academic career began with a BA in psychology from UC Santa Cruz and a Ph.D. from UCLA with a research oriented focus in clinical psychology. His interest in depression, mood disorders, and pain management in health psychology led him to work in the mood disorders clinic at UCLA. In 1985 he became a licensed psychologist and opened a small practice in Santa Monica. Soon after, he began his 18-year affiliation with Pepperdine. Outside of his life in psychology, Dr. deMayo enjoys spending time with his family, watching Lost and The Office, and listening to music by Paul Simon, James Taylor, and Carole King. Dr. DeMayo's love for sports ranges from cheering his sons on to victory at their swim meets to rooting for his hometown baseball team, the St. Louis Cardinals.

He considers one of the most important keys to success in psychology to be securing one's own therapy. Through personal therapy, prospective therapists can gain insight into themselves, their family of origin, and increase their ability for self-reflection. Looking back at his own journey, Dr. deMayo emphasized that his intellectual interest in psychology came after his counseling experiences. Through individual counseling, he learned how to live a well-balanced life, be present for his clients, have respect for his own needs, and feel connected with others even when he was exposed to harm and distraction. Although Pepperdine does not currently require students to get their own therapy, Dr. deMayo strongly believes that it helps with one the most important qualities in being a therapist—the ability to reflect and to be aware of one's self and others.

Over the years, Dr. deMayo has taken a special interest in the area of psychotherapist/client relationship especially as it pertains to risk issues for therapists. Harassment and other threatening behaviors on the part of clients are too often dismissed or minimized as transference reactions. Therefore, trainees must be encouraged to establish appropriate boundaries regarding inappropriate behaviors in therapy. He advises students to trust their instincts and feelings and to not be afraid to bring up anything that makes them uncomfortable with their supervisors rather than dismissing it as just normal anxiety.

His vision for our program is that it will continue to grow as a visible, cutting edge source of education with a positive impact on the field of mental health in California. He encourages us to continue to work hard in order to be part of Pepperdine's spectacular community of practitioners in mental health.