I grew up in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, USA, with my parents; older sister, Gail; and younger brother, Bob. I was raised in the more liberal synod of the Lutheran church but left the church in my late teens and consider myself very spiritual but not religious.
PSYCHOLOGY HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER AND COUNSELOR
After earning a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology with honors from the University of Illinois, I taught high school psychology for 11 years and was a high school counselor for one year while I earned my master’s and doctoral degrees in counselor education at Northern Illinois University. I had a part-time private practice in counseling from the late 1970s through 2006.
UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR AND CHAIRPERSON
Since completing my EdD in 1988, I served 31 years on the University of North Texas (UNT) Counseling Program faculty—12 of those years as chair of the Department of Counseling & Higher Education. In 2019 I retired as professor emerita of Counseling.
For several years since 1998, U.S. News & World Report has ranked the University of North Texas (UNT) Counseling Program among the top 15 nationwide and 1st in Texas among counseling and counseling psychology programs housed in colleges of education.
NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCES, AFTER-DEATH COMMUNICATION, & OTHER TRANSPERSONAL EXPERIENCES
Beginning with my doctoral dissertation, my primary research focus has been counseling implications of near-death experiences, after-death communication, and other transpersonal experiences—those that transcend the usual personal limits of space, time, and identity.
RESEARCH AND PUBLICATIONS
In this research area I have over 50 refereed journal publications and over 100 national and international presentations. I served as lead editor of the 2009 Handbook of Near-Death Experiences: Thirty Years of Investigation, and I co-edited the Association for Spiritual, Ethical, and Religious Values in Counseling’s (ASERVIC’s) 2017 Connecting Soul, Spirit, Mind, and Body: A Collection of Spiritual and Religious Perspectives and Practices in Counseling. Beginning in 2004, I served three years as president of the International Association for Near-Death Studies, and I was elected to that position again in 2020. Since 2008 I have served as editor-in-chief of that association’s scholarly Journal of Near-Death Studies.
I am a Texas Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor and an American Center for the Integration of Spiritually Transformative Experiences (ACISTE [pronounced “assist”]) Certified Mental Health Professional.
AWARDS & ACCOLADES
For my career-long research on and advocacy for people who have had transpersonal experiences, I was awarded ASERVIC’s 2013 Research Award and the American Counseling Association’s 2015 Gilbert and Kathleen Wrenn Award for a Humanitarian and Caring Person. For my “outstanding and sustained contributions to scholarly-creative activity, teaching, and service,” I received the UNT Foundation’s 2019 Eminent Faculty Award, one of the highest faculty achievements whose recipient “serves as an inspiration to the entire UNT community.”
In retirement I am continuing as Journal editor, serving as IANDS President, adjunct teaching graduate counseling courses, and pursuing various scholarly activities. I live in Texas with my husband and enjoy gardening, traveling (when the pandemic allows), and watching movies. Because of my expertise in NDEs and related phenomena, in early 2020 I served for 10 days as an International Visiting Scholar at Massey University in Palmerston North, New Zealand, and I would love to serve in this type of capacity at other universities across the US and around the world – COVID-19 allowing!
I was introduced to the triquetra by two of my doctoral students who had taken my UNT graduate course on the Transpersonal Perspective in Counseling and felt personally and professionally transformed by the experience. They conceptualized the triquetra as the integration of body (left vesica Pisces), mind (right), and spirit (center)--which is what the symbol has come to mean to me.
Triquetra Symbol's Meaning
Triquetra means “triangle” or “three” (tri-) “cornered” (Quetrus). It is made up of three intersecting vesica Pisces. The Vesica Pisces is the shape created by the intersection of two congruent circles. A triquetra symbol is sometimes interlaced with a circle.
An ancient Celtic symbol, the triquetra is considered one of the oldest, dating back to as early as 500 BC when it was used to symbolize the triple goddess (maiden-mother-crone). Over the centuries it has become the symbol for the Holy Trinity among Christians in Ireland. The symbol is often used to represent the 3 fundamental elements – air, water, and earth – or the infinite cycle of life. It is also known as a rune of protection.
In modern times, the triquetra symbol has become a favorite design element in knot-work, jewelry, emblems, logos, etc., as a symbol of anything three-fold, e.g. the cycle of life (life-death-rebirth), the promise of [spouses] (love-honor-protect), the family (father-mother-child), the passage of time (past-present-future), and many more. The circle that is often interlaced with the triquetra represents the bond between the three elements.