- Masters in Counseling
- Master in Counseling - K-12 Emphasis
- Doctor of Philosophy in Counseling Psychology
- Rural Psychology and Integrated Care
Thomas Motl, Ph.D.
Originally from Texas, my journey to North Dakota has included stops in Kansas for graduate school, Arkansas for a Post-doctoral Fellowship in PTSD, Wisconsin to teach in an undergraduate psychology program, and most recently to Vancouver, Canada as a member of the Counseling Psychology Program’s graduate faculty. I am looking forward to being back in the U.S., to returning to a smaller community, and to much less rain.
Ph.D., 2012, Counseling Psychology, University of Kansas
M.S., 2008, Counseling Psychology, University of Kansas
B.A., 2003, Psychology, Southwestern University
Philosophy of Teaching and Learning
Regardless of the content, the best education is transformative. Though the courses I teach are compartmentalized, these transformations are not. Educational experiences change the whole person, and the best lessons are applicable to the personal as well as the professional. An education is not something you can take with you when you leave the class; it is something you can’t help but take with you. In increments – and in ways large and small – learning makes you different, such that you never interact with the world the same way again.
All moments provide an experience. Learning is just a form of experience that sticks with us. The more immersive the experience, the more you learn. In this regard, the best way to learn is to do. But not just any doing will suffice. You must do with an attitude that allows you to be bad at something, and under circumstances which provide feedback to help you become less bad at it. From a teaching perspective, that means my job is to create an environment that’s safe for mistakes (and for not knowing stuff) and rich in new ways to try (and to think about) things.
Of course, anyone who’s gotten lost in a good book knows that you can have rich, immersive experiences without having to ‘do’ much of anything. Stories that are structured, interesting, and meaningful (through empathy with a character’s motive or history, for example) are avenues for transformative learning experiences. From the teaching side, that means educators need to weave stories that are compelling, relevant, and speak to a coherent theme. In isolation, facts don’t offer much. If you string them together well, though, they can tell a story; one that sticks.
I’ve been known to teach just about anything. I’m most drawn to theory classes, in which we discuss how theoretical ideas about human nature are translated to the world we observe or the actions we take to shape it. In addition to lecture-based courses, I have done a significant amount of supervision.
I have published and presented on a variety of different topics, such as persistence among American Indian students at a Tribally-controlled college, the benefits of a strengths-focus in career-counseling, the struggles Veterans face when transitioning to college, and how cognitive defusion buffers the effect of PTSD symptoms. I generally work from a quantitative research paradigm. A few of my projects have employed experimental methodologies, one of which even used a semantic priming technique. These projects share the themes of cross-disciplinary integration and the application of basic research methods to issues of human well-being.
My primary research interest involves applying post-rational (experiential and values-based) paradigms to career decisions. In short, I want to know how people make guesses about what they will enjoy; and how we can optimize these guesses. For example: all people engage in predictions about what activities or environments they will find interesting. These ‘interest forecasts’ influence our everyday choices: which magazine to pick up in the doctor’s office (People or Time?), or what radio station to tune in to (NPR or Country Music?). This line of research incorporates methods and theory from vocational, cognitive, social, and evolutionary psychology, and is particularly important during vocational and educational decision-making.
Though trained within a generalist framework, I am proficient in a number of evidence-based therapies, including Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Prolonged Exposure, and Motivational Interviewing, among others. Having worked extensively with combat Veterans, I have developed particular expertise treating trauma-related concerns. But I have also worked with a variety of populations, including clients of low socioeconomic status, individuals with serious and persistent mental illness, and high-functioning medical school students. I have used behavioral and cognitive-behavioral models extensively in individual and group modalities, but have been particularly influenced by third-wave behavioral philosophies, such as mindfulness and acceptance-based orientations, such as ACT.
Motl, T. C., Krieshok, T. S., & Multon, K. D. (accepted). The effect of rational and intuitive decision-making strategies on interest forecasts. Journal of Career Assessment.
Motl, T. C., Multon, K. D., & Zhao, F. (2016). Persistence at a Tribal University: Factors associated with second year enrollment. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education. Advance online publication. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/dhe0000034
Owens, R. L., Motl, T. C., & Krieshok, T. S. (2016). A comparison of strengths and interests protocols in career assessment and counseling. Journal of Career Assessment, 24(4) 605-622. doi: 10.1177/1069072715615854
Krieshok, T. S., Motl, T. C., & Rutt, B. T. (2011).The evolution of vocational psychology: Questions for a postmodern applied discipline. Journal of Career Assessment, 19(3), 228-239. doi: 10.1177/1069072710395530
Publications (In Progress)
Cox, D. W., Motl, T. C.,*Bakker, A. M., & Lunt, R. A. (in preparation). Emotion dysregulation mediates the effect of cognitive fusion on PTSD and life satisfaction in veterans.
Owens, R. L., Motl, T. C., *Kopperson, C., *Regehr, R., & *McDaniel, M. (in preparation). A content analysis of Counseling Psychology’s core values in flagship Counseling Psychology journals: Do we walk the walk?
Weber, R. C., Liew, J., Motl, T. C., Riccio, C. A., & Johnson, A. (submitted). What are the everyday implications of bilingual advantages in cognitive control? Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism.