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Debra Kawahara

Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Distinguished Professor
debra kawahara

Debra M. Kawahara, Ph.D., is Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Distinguished Professor at the California School of Professional Psychology, Alliant International University. Dr. Kawahara is a multicultural feminist scholar whose work centers on intersectionality and social justice, women’s issues, leadership, and the integration of early Buddhism into psychotherapy. She is widely published and has presented extensively. In 2018, she became the Editor-in-Chief for the journal Women & Therapy. She is also a licensed psychologist and has a private practice where she counsels individuals, couples, and families as well as consults with organizations.   

Her current leadership roles include being the 2024 president-elect of the American Psychological Association (APA) and a member of the APA Strategic Planning Advisory Group. She has previously served as a member-at-large on the APA Board of Directors, a representative on the APA Council of Representatives, an APA Finance Committee member, an Advisory Committee member for the Leadership Institute for Women in Psychology, Divisions of Social Justice representative, and a National Council of Schools and Programs in Professional Psychology delegate.

Several awards have been bestowed to her: APA Presidential Citation; Shining Star Award at the National Multicultural Conference & Summit; APA’s Society for the Psychological Study of Culture, Race and Ethnicity’s Distinguished Career Contributions for Service Award; and APA’s Society for the Psychology of Women, Section on Asian Pacific Islander Women’s Pioneer Award. 

Professional Interests
  • Multicultural and community psychology
  • Feminism and women's issues
  • Asian American mental health
  • Integration of early Buddhism into psychotherapy
  • Family therapy and its processes
  • Qualitative research methodology
Education and Certifications
  • Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, Multicultural/Community Emphasis, California School of Professional Psychology, Los Angeles
Scholarship and Contributions to the Field
  • Kawahara, D. M. (2023). Feminist Leadership. Invited APA presentation, Bermuda College. Bermuda.            
  • Yon, N., & Kawahara, D. M. (2022). "Underrepresented and underleveraged: Developing the leadership potential of women of Asian descent." Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 74(2), 162–177.
  • Kawahara, D. M. (2022). Moving clinical psychology forward in a culturally responsive manner. Invited moderator/discussant for the Society of Clinical Psychology Multicultural Summit. Virtual.
  • Kawahara, D. M. (2022). A call to action: Future directions for clinical psychology. Invited keynote for the Society of Clinical Psychology at the American Psychological Association annual convention. Minneapolis, MN.
  • Tien, L., & Kawahara, D. M. (2021). "Application from Buddhist Psychotherapy to life in a pandemic." Japan U.S. Psychological Institute newsletter.
  • Cunningham, P. B., Foster, S. L., Kawahara, D. M., Robbins, M. S., & Bryan, S. (2020). "Strategies therapists use to manage midtreatment problems they encounter implementing evidence-based interventions in community settings." Family Process.
  • Kawahara, D. M. (2019). "Diversity issues in supervision: Burnout, compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma, and historical trauma." In T. R. Burnes & J. E. Manese (Eds.), Cases in multicultural clinical supervision: Models, lenses, and applications (pp. 65-77). San Diego, CA: Cognella.
  • Pitts, C., & Kawahara, D. M. (Eds.) (2018). Radical visionaries: Feminist therapist pioneers. New York: Taylor & Francis.