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Ted R. Bitner

Hampton and Esther Boswell Distinguished University Professor of Psychology

Why Psychology?

Why do people make the choices they make? Does our environment make choices for us and we only react, or are we proactive and in control of our own decisions? These and other similar questions were the impetus for my choosing psychology as a career. After reading Ethics by Spinoza, I was convinced that a further study of psychology would enable me to better answer these questions that had piqued my curiosity.

My subsequent work in psychology has not only helped me answer these questions, but it also ushered me into careers that have been fulfilling and exciting. The study of psychology has helped me answer many of my own questions about life, but has enabled me to guide others in their quests to satisfy many of their curiosities about life as well.

I have been fortunate to not only have practiced clinically, but teach and research as well in the university setting. My experiences in the classroom and being in the university environment informed my clinical practice, and my clinical experience has also informed my teaching, earning the Excellence in Education Award at Ball State University in 2003-04.

I have also been involved in custody evaluation cases, and have been qualified as an expert witness for the Indiana State Public Defender’s Office.

My Research InterestS

Continuing in the pattern of asking why psychology, my dissertation focused on the educational choices secondary students make, and why they make them. I was also interested in the role their parents played in these important decisions that are made at such a young age.

Becoming interested in constructing psychometrically sound instruments used to evaluate learning, teaching, and clinical syndromes, I have published in this area as well. Currently, we are collecting data on a proposed instrument that will aid the clinician in diagnosing Dependent Personality Disorder and other dependency issues.

With the current focus on health issues in America (not only physical, but psychological as well), I have developed interests in the psychological aspects of end-of-life issues including the ethical treatment of patients and families by healthcare systems during this stress filled time of life. Also, I am interested in the ethical use of psychotropic medications and the medical treatment of children who suffer from psychological illnesses.

During the summer of 2015, I, along with two DePauw Senior pre-med students both of whom were Science Research Fellows as well, completed the data gathering aspect of a rather extensive research project. The project focuses on identity and personality change in persons who are in palliative or End of Life (EOL) care at a large medical care facility. We were interested in whether these changes (if any) affected critical health care decision making capabilities of these patients. We completed interviews using the Life Narrative format, an aspect of psychobiography that is an excellent study for students interested in STEM education and research methods. Currently, we are analyzing the data, and preparing a manuscript.  I appreciate the support DePauw University gives to the model of faculty and student research teams, where both faculty and students are able to ask questions, then perform research to probe for answers.

Publications & Presentations

Psychological and Ethical Implications of EOL Issues: Are they the same?
   Presentation to the NEHM National Health Conference, Spring, 2012. (Accepted)


Ethical Considerations for the Counseling of Patients and Families in Grief
   Presentation to St John’s Health System, Anderson, IN, Fall, 2010


Holiday Depression: What can be done?
   Presentation to NE Indiana Psychological Association, Fall, 2001


Validation and Reliability Study on Psychological Aspects of Teacher Behavior
   Presentation to the Mid-West Research Association, Chicago, Fall 1999


A Read Aloud Program for At-Risk Kindergarten Children and their Parents. (With Susan Foster)
   Indiana Reading Journal, 30,3,50-55. Summer, 1998


Psychological Considerations for Teachers of Incarcerated Students
   Presentation to Indiana Department of Corrections, Fall, 1995


Validity and Reliability Measures for a Student Teacher Evaluation Instrument.
   The Teacher Educator, 27,1,Summer, 1991


Incorporating Administrative Theory in the Supervision of Student Teachers
   ERIC Documents, 1983