Asbury Psych Prof Publishes Groundbreaking Research – Asbury University
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Asbury Psych Prof Publishes Groundbreaking Research

January 26, 2018

Dr. Janet Dean
Dr. Janet Dean contributed research to a first-of-its-kind study.

WILMORE, Ky. — Like many Asbury University faculty members, Dr. Janet Dean wears several hats. In addition to teaching Psychology classes at Asbury and keeping a full schedule of one-one-one student research projects, she’s also an outstanding scholar who is making groundbreaking contributions.

Dean and a team of colleagues from private Christian institutions have completed a first-of-its-kind study, “Listening to Sexual Minorities: A Study of Faith and Sexual Identity on Christian College Campuses,” which will be published through InterVarsity Press in April 2018.

The study seeks to respectfully listen to students who entrust these researchers with their stories as they navigate the intersection of sexual and spiritual identities.

“The research that we’ve been doing – the research that led to this book – was among the first, if not the first, to really look at Christian sexual minority students on Christian campuses,” Dean said.

Research was led by Dr. Mark Yarhouse (Hughes Endowed Chair and Professor of Psychology at Regent University). Mike Lastoria (retired Director of Counseling Services at Houghton College), Dr. Steve Stratton (Professor of Counseling at Asbury Theological Seminary) and Dean complete the research team. Dean said the team has worked together for more than 13 years on journal articles and presentations, but this is their first book endeavor.

“It was especially rewarding to see this ‘work’ — work to which we’ve dedicated so much of our careers — come together in this way,” Dean said. “For all of us, this work is not about the research, but it’s about the students that we’ve been able to get to know, and hopefully help, through this research. They are why we do what we do. The book, in many ways, is our gift back to them.”

Dean is a licensed psychologist, associate professor at Asbury University and affiliate faculty member at Asbury Theological Seminary. With more than 20 years of experience in psychological assessment and treatment, she’s worked in university counseling, community mental health, correctional and forensic psychology and holds an ongoing private practice. Through organized panel discussions and Chapel messages, she has helped create an open dialogue on human sexuality in Christian context.

“Because this book is about the real stories of real people, it may help us to dialogue about these issues with more reason, compassion, civility, tolerance, and grace than is often seen,” Dean said.

Dean said she’s excited about the opportunities this project will create. She and her team recently won a grant from the Louisville Institute to begin a similar project with Christian students who identify as gender minorities. This past fall, Dean and her team presented at the annual conventions of the American Psychological Association, the Kentucky Psychological Association, and the Kentucky Counseling Association. They will present again at the annual convention of the Christian Association for Psychological Studies in April.  

— by Cathryn Lien ‘18

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