Thema Bryant-Davis, PhD

Thema Bryant-Davis, PhD“Being a feminist psychologist means being someone who is committed to using mental health practice and science for the empowerment and the uplift of all people while actively combating every form of oppression.”

It is with great admiration and respect that we spotlight, our 2010-2011 president of the Society for the Psychology of Women, in our Great Leaders Series. She is the youngest SPW president in division history.

Dr. Bryant-Davis earned a BA in psychology and African and African-American studies, an MA in clinical psychology, and a PhD in clinical psychology from Duke University. In 1998, she served as the clinical Coordinator of the Duke Psychology Clinic. Dr. Bryant-Davis completed her doctoral clinical internship from 1999 to 2000 at The Cambridge Hospital at the Harvard Medical Center where she provided individual and group counseling services to trauma survivors.

Dr. Bryant-Davis emphasized the importance of establishing a supportive mentoring relationship with her graduate faculty. She credits her dissertation chair, Dr. Susan Roth, for igniting her appreciation of sound research practices.

“Dr. Roth really awakened in me a love for research,” Dr. Bryant-Davis said. “She was a feminist scholar and a trauma psychologist who showed me how to honor the voices of women and other trauma survivors in scholarship.”

Dr. Bryant-Davis began her academic career as an assistant professor at Lesley College in Cambridge, Mass., before joining the Sexual Harassment/Assault Advising, Resources, and Education (SHARE) program at Princeton University in 2001.

During her three-year tenure as SHARE's program coordinator, she provided training to program staff regarding culturally appropriate and empirically supported interventions, advocacy, education, prevention and research for victims of sexual harassment/assault, LGBT-related prejudice and violence and dating violence.

In 2005, Dr. Bryant-Davis took her talents to the West coast and accepted a tenure track assistant professor position at California State University in Long Beach. Two years later, she began her position at Pepperdine University where she is now a tenured associate professor. She teaches “Trauma in Diverse Populations” as well as “Mental Health Systems” and “Human Sexuality.”

Throughout her career, Dr. Bryant-Davis has been lauded nationally for her accomplishments as a feminist psychologist. In 2000, she was selected to serve as the APA Representative to the United Nations. She fulfilled this role for four years.

In 2005, Dr. Bryant-Davis was honored by Essence magazine as a prominent female trailblazer at their annual “ Women Who Are Shaping the World” Leadership Summit in New York City. Just one year later, The Counseling Psychologist commended Dr. Bryant-Davis for her published work in the Journal of Emotional Abuse regarding racist incident-based trauma, nominating her work as “One of the Best Articles of the Year.”

Dr. Bryant-Davis's pen crafted two books, “ Surviving Sexual Trauma: A Guide to Recovery and Empowerment” and “ Thriving in the Wake of Trauma: A Multicultural Guide .” Her passion for addressing the needs of African-American trauma survivors motivated her to bridge the knowledge gap between the academy and the general public.

“People were only looking at cultural competence in a superficial or surface way and I had an urgency in addressing those audiences,” Dr. Bryant-Davis said.

Dr. Bryant-Davis's proudest accomplishment as SPW president was producing her film on the psychology of human trafficking. "Creating this film showed me the importance of using our resources to not only better the field but to reach those beyond the field. We have to continue to be creative in bringing feminist psychology to wider audiences.”

Today, Dr. Bryant-Davis continues to bring feminist psychology to the national stage. She has been featured on several national television networks, major magazines and reaches more than 12,000 people daily via her Twitter feed. Dr. Bryant-Davis also maintains a successful private practice in Los Angeles.