David W. Hart, Ph.D.
I often say that I’m a proud product of the public school system. As a child, I loved school! I was that kid who rode his bike to campus every day during the last weeks of August to find out what teacher I had for the new academic year. The first day of school was better than Christmas and truth be told I still have butterflies in my stomach when a new semester begins. I loved school so much that I guess I never left. The education I received in my hometown of Upland, CA, and at Cal State Fullerton as both an undergrad and graduate student, truly elevated my life to a level that I couldn’t have dreamed of growing up in a working-class neighborhood with my mom and younger brother. I’m the first person in my family to attend college and certainly the first to graduate and go on to earn a Ph.D. I’ve been on Cal State Fullerton campus in some capacity since 1997 – as a student (B.S. in Political Science and M.S. in Counseling), employee (I worked for Titan Shops in the bookstore the first semester of my freshmen year), graduate assistant (I worked in academic advising for a semester or two), and as a faculty member (I began teaching in the Counseling Department in 2006) – for 25 years. Cal State Fullerton has been unbelievably good to me and I’m incredibly proud to be part of a community that promotes the values that I hold dear, including diversity, equity, and excellence.
My career has taken many paths, but education seems to be the tie that binds together the many chapters of my work story. I served as the Program Director at The Center Orange County for several years and oversaw all of the agency’s HIV prevention programs for men, youth, and transgender clients. I also was the Director of Education for Alzheimer’s Family Services Center where I was responsible for the development and implementation of a $250,000 three-year dementia education program funded by the UniHealth Foundation and Hoag Hospital. All the while I continued to work on my hours for licensure and taught one or two classes at Cal State Fullerton. I eventually acquiesced to the drive I had to teach more and decided to attend the University of Missouri – St. Louis to complete a CACREP accredited Ph.D. in Counselor Education. Five years later, with the dissertation successfully defended and the doctorate in hand, I returned to Long Beach and now have the privilege of mentoring graduate students in the Counseling Department at CSUF. I enjoy teaching clinical courses, including all levels of clinical practicum, group, career, multicultural, and addictions counseling. I love my work and remain grateful that I’m lucky enough to live my passion.
I am a passionate proponent of education as a tool to both cultivate and demonstrate social justice in our society and that counselor educators have a responsibility to model the principles of equity and fairness vis-à-vis a commitment to the interruption of oppression – on the micro and macro levels. Within this context, I strive to co-create an egalitarian classroom culture that stimulates dialogue, embraces curiosity, and develops ethically and clinically competent counselors who are interested, if not committed, to a model of counseling that is steadfast in its dedication to promoting social justice in society.
I have adopted a feminist and anti-racist pedagogy that recognizes the personal as political. The classroom has historically served to maintain white supremacist, patriarchal, and hetero and cisnormative ideologies and practices. Honest and open discussions related to the intersectionality of race, sex, and gender were seen as taboo and actively abnegated. As a practitioner of critical analysis, I see my pedagogy as an extension of my queerness; both are meant to be disruptive. I also recognize that my identity as a queer person is tertiary to the privilege afforded me because I am white and cisgender. As such, a primary objective is to deconstruct implicit and explicit biases related to race, sex, and gender (in addition to several others) as I interrupt white supremacist, patriarchal, and hetero and cisnormative cognitive distortions, behaviors, and practices. How does this look in the classroom and other spaces that I participate in? I understand that I’m not the single purveyor of knowledge; the relationships that I cultivate with students and colleagues are egalitarian in nature; Either/or thinking defers to both/and openness; prioritizing perfection is replaced with celebrating progress, and I accept and promote more than a single modality of cultivating and demonstrating knowledge in the classroom and society at large. I continue to lean into discomfort as I engage in important and critical conversations around intersectionalities and do not expect marginalized folks to labor over schooling me or nurse any painful feelings I might experience as I engage in critical conversations. I am actively educating myself. Anti-racism has been a journey towards strengthening my professional identity as a counselor educator and has improved my life and relationships tremendously. I am committed to continuing on this path.
I have found that Carl Rogers’ non-directive, student-centered approach to teaching strongly resonates with my own stylistic preferences. My courses can at times be observed by students as unstructured. For some, this perceived lack of structure can be a source of frustration and anxiety, but my choice to integrate Rogers’ teaching principles into my own pedagogy is methodical. In the classroom, I strive to embody counseling ethos, which includes a deep respect for a client’s autonomy and freedom to create both a healthy self and relationships. I find these same principles work just as well in the classroom. I want students to think independently and creatively and not simply regurgitate ideas from the text or lecture. I strive to create a classroom community where students can become deeply committed to their own learning. This requires students to be in touch with their own thoughts and feelings, as well as those of their colleagues. Learning course content is critical to shaping competent and ethical practitioners but becoming a master of the therapeutic process is the single most important element that promotes positive outcomes in the lives of our clients. It is my intention to attend to both content and process.
My research interests are in the areas of spiritual integration and counseling, sexual and gender minority issues related to identity development, psychological mediation of stress related to minority status, and counseling the older adult client, particularly patients diagnosed with dementia and their care partners.
I am the founding chair of the South Bay Dementia Education Consortium, which brings together top researchers and practitioners to provide high quality, complimentary education on memory care. I facilitate a bi-annual 8-week psychoeducational group for people with dementia and their care partners and have consistently offered Caregiving Essentials - a 3.5 hour bootcamp for family caregivers - nearly every month for the last 20 years. I have supported thousands of family members as they navigate the challenges related to dementia care. I also offer professional training and consultation related to support LGBTQ+ older adults and facilitate a monthly support group for these folks. Finally, I am the co-chair of the Orange County MFT Consortium as part of my role as Clinical Training Director.
Hart, D.W., Brew, L., & Pope, M. (2019). In search of meaning: A preliminary typology of gay male
spiritual identity development. Journal of Counseling and Values, 64 (1),
Hart, D.W. (2011). Counseling HIV positive gay men. In M. Pope & S. Dworkin (Eds.). Case
studies in lesbian, Gay, bisexual and transgender counseling. Alexandria, VA: American
Hart, D.W. (2011). Debunking the myths of aging. In M. Pope, A. Coker, and J. Pangelinan
(Eds.). Experiential activities for teaching multicultural counseling classes and infusing
cultural diversity into core classes. Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.
Kashubeck-West, S., & Hart, D.W. (2010). Homework assignment for all educators: Read this
book! [Review of the book Gender, Bullying, and Harassment: Strategies to End Sexism
and homophobia in schools]. PsycCritiques.