David McAnulty, Ph.D.
What is your educational background?
B.A., Biblical Languages, Harding University, 1981
M.A., Clinical Psychology, Louisiana State University, 1984
Internship, Clinical Health Psychology, Brown University, 1986
Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, Louisiana State University, 1986
What was your dissertation topic?
"The Role of EMG in Tension Headache"
What is your teaching philosophy?
First and foremost, I think teaching is more about inspiring a desire to learn than passing on facts. As a professor, I must myself be a learner who keeps bringing new material, new ideas and new methods to the classroom. An ongoing excitement about one's subject matter is essential, and, I believe, contagious. I also believe my role as a professor is to relate the subject matter to the bigger picture, to help students learn to synthesize and integrate the vast amount of material and skills they are acquiring in the brief college years. Everything that is learned, no matter how technical or focused, should relate to a coherent worldview, to personhood, to the human community, as well as to those interests and experiences that make each of us unique.
What is an average class like?
A class is something of an experiment, fluctuating between careful preparation and improvisation. There is always more to cover and discuss than can possibly be accomplished and there are always fascinating detours, triggered by a question, a comment, a current event, or some tangential thought of my own, which make class a bit of an unpredictable adventure. In some ways class is like therapy: as the therapist/professor, you have clear objectives, methods, and direction. But it is also a dynamic partnership, where goals are negotiated, methods are adjusted, and directions sometimes change.
What do you expect from students?
I treat students like adults, with dignity and flexibility. So, I expect maturity. But, even more importantly, I expect students to think. Psychology is a fascinating and broad topic. My job is to keep classes interesting and fresh. In return, I expect each and every student to engage thoughtfully with the material. Class discussions, tests, and other assignments all reflect this priority.
What strengths do you bring to the department?
I came to academia rather late in my career. I first was a practicing clinical psychologist for over 20 years. So, I think I bring an insistence on theory being married to practicality. For me, psychology is more than a subject matter; it is a way to understand, interact with and bring healing to others. It's safe to say that behind my class lectures, beyond the books and research, stand hundreds of clients I've treated and who have very much been my teachers, as they invited me into their lives and their problems. I've also worked as a minister, so that the integration of psychology and theology is also a keen interest. I think my reading and experience in this area is an asset to the department.
What are your research interests?
My two broad interest areas are behavioral medicine, or the application of psychology to health and illness, and the psychology of religion.
What is most important to you?
I don't know how to answer without sounding like Miss America, but it pretty much all boils down to God (as revealed in Jesus), family (though not narrowly defined), and community (both local and global).
How did you get to where you are now?
My path to an academic position at ACU is a bit of a long and crooked line; yet, it seems eminently logical to me. I was a missionary’s kid who grew up in France and still often feels more French than American. My folks were and are very much heroes to me. Like them, my first love was ministry, which led me to Harding University where I studied Biblical Languages to prepare for ministry. In fact, I elected to go to grad school in Psychology simply in order to be a better minister. My plan was to complete my Ph.D. and go into missions. But then, psychology, particularly the scientist-practitioner model, really resonated with me, so that I began envisioning a career in academia. For a number of reasons, which I might simply summarize as “the call of the Church”, I became a practicing clinician. Those 20 years of clinical practice seem, in retrospect, like a prolonged tutelage in the practical side of psychology and the “deeper” side of ministering to suffering people. Coming back to academics, becoming a professor of Psychology, seemed like a logical next step to me. I feel like I found a vocation, learned the necessary knowledge and skills, practiced it for many years (hopefully honing my skills and enlarging my perspective), and now have the privilege of teaching and training others.