Spotlight on alumna Joanna Hulton (Ph.D. 1998)

By February 28, 2014Alumni

In the Union Institute & University tradition of transforming lives and communities, alumna Joanna Hulton (Ph.D. 1998) has dedicated herself for the past 30 years, as a teacher, workshop leader, and practicing psychoanalyst. She is committed to improving children’s self-esteem, feelings of personal efficacy, and ability to learn by transforming the role of family, school, and community. Union Institute & University’s commitment to “explore ideas and issues from multiple perspectives” inspired her interdisciplinary approach.

Dr. Hulton recently authored the insightful Parent Fatigue Syndrome: What to do When Conventional Wisdom is Not Very Wise. The book combines the knowledge of how children develop emotionally and intellectually, the newest research in infant brain-development, and the humanistic psychoanalytic principles of Heinz Kohut’s Self Psychology. It features 20 warm and poignant case vignettes, all presented in an accessible form for parents.

Dr. Hulton explains that parents’ natural re-identification with their own parents as they start to raise children can undercut their parenting ambitions. Steeped in outdated conventional wisdom stored in the memories of their childhood, modern-day parents do not feel that they are parenting effectively. To promote successful parenting and combat parent fatigue, she puts theory into practice and highlights the emotional growth of parent and child that can occur simultaneously when the two work together, using techniques that can be practiced at home, including play therapy, sand tray exercises, storytelling, and puppetry.

Additionally, in the section “The World Beyond: School Daze,” Dr. Hulton argues compellingly that education reform must address the emotional needs of children in the classroom, with practical examples of how teachers can use their skills to become social-change agents.

Dr. Hutton exemplifies Union’s mission to inspire learners to “reflect their awareness of the social implications of their studies and of their obligation to share knowledge with integrity in uplifting the communities in which they serve.”