Having grown up in the green capital of Bulgaria, I attended a Russian language school and the American College of Sofia. My interests in human biology and philosophy of mind turned into the fascination with psychology that took me to Connecticut College, where I worked on research of personality's linkages to autobiographical memories. I embraced the values of liberal arts education and empirical science, majored in psychology and neuroscience/neurochemistry, and planned to become a psychologist. At York University in Toronto, I worked on psychotherapy research and fell in love with Canada. My research goals, however, took me to Emory University in Atlanta, where I studied emotion-driven reasoning, the classification of personality pathology, certain forms of mild personality dysfunction, and such severe disorders as borderline personality and psychopathy. I also trained in pedagogy and psychological assessment and therapy, and I completed my predoctoral internship at Columbia University Medical Center in Manhattan. I came to Whitman College because of its congenial atmosphere, balance between teaching and research, and tradition of student-faculty research.
My teaching interests include personality, psychological measurement and testing, and courses about the classification and treatment of psychopathology. I also teach research methods, research on sexual orientation, and forensic psychology, and I am versed in basic neuroscience and psychopharmacology. My research will likely continue to address the classification of personality disorders, the ability of psychopathy subtypes to predict outcomes in inmates, and, more generally, the incremental validity of personality over other kinds of variables in predicting psychological adjustment. I am highly interested in working on research projects with students who are curious about personality, mental illness, psychological adjustment, relational functioning, the effects of emotions and motivation on decision making, and sexual orientation.
Licensed to practice psychology in Washington, I have a small private practice (not associated with Whitman College) that focuses on psychological evaluation, testing, and assessment; in addition, I treat adjustment problems, anxiety and mood disorders, and difficulties with self-esteem, identity, and relationships. I work from an integrative psychodynamic-interpersonal/cognitive-behavioral framework with an emphasis on insight, problem solving, and emotion regulation.