Featured Faculty Members
CofC Home Page The Students Special Thanks Feedback
Department of Communication College of Charleston Home Page

Professor Patrick Harwood
Department of Communication


Susan Simonian

Photo Susan Simonian
Professor Susan Simonian

Psychology- The Passion of Her Life
By Katie Murphy

Pyschology Professor Susan J. Simonian, is more than excited about her job. Every semester she teaches three different psychology courses in addition to performing outside research and clinical work. "I try not to teach the same three classes every semester in able to ensure variety in my schedule as well as keeping a fresh new perspective," Dr. Simonian says.

Currently, Simonian's courses include introduction to psychology, health psychology, and applied behavior analysis. Additional teaching interests include diverse areas of child and adult health psychology and preventative health, abnormal psychology, and child psychopathology.

When asked which course was her favorite to teach, she replied, "I love them all. It's difficult to choose just one."

After receiving her B.A. in psychology from the University of California, her schooling continued at California State University, where she then earned her M.A. in psychology. Simonian then received her Ph.D. in psychology from Ohio State University, a school and team which she proudly represents. After earning her Ph.D., Simonian decided it was time to stop going to school and time to start teaching at schools. Even though she is a professor at the college level, child psychology is where her heart is.

Simonian works with graduate students at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). There she is involved with supervision, training and research. She works closely with graduate students sharing her research and experience to help them further research already underway. Together they study children and adolescent psychology. Because MUSC is within such a close distance to the college, it is convenient for Simonian to both teach at the college and work with graduate students. During Simonian's free time in the summer, she looks at adult psychology, primarily in marriages and women.

Her research interests include child psychopathology, sequelae of prematurity, pediatric psychology, disadvantaged children and families, and the effects of exercise during pregnancy on neurodevelopmental outcome and maternal stress. Additional interests include multi-disciplinary approaches to wellness and prevention of illness across the lifespan.

An example of one of Simonian's research questions is "How do we identify kids in pediatrics?" Throughout this study, Simonian strived to find the answers for how pediatricians can look for behavioral and emotional problems among these young kids. She wrote a response paper entitled "Behavior Screening in Pediatric Primary Care." The study focuses on screening methods, Spanish speaking patients and translating correctly, and the readability of the parents. Another study that Simonian has been involved with is looking at children of mothers who have cancer. For this study, she worked closely with the MUSC's Hollings Cancer Center.

Simonian also runs her own clinical practice. She is currently a board certified clinical child and adolescent psychologist. As a clinical psychologist, her areas of specialization include, clinical-child and pediatric psychology and behavior therapy. She is also actively involved in the American Psychological Association (Division 54- Society of Pediatric Psychology and other divisions relevant to Clinical Psychology).

Simonian greatly enjoys all areas of work that she is involved in, especially teaching undergraduates at the College of Charleston. "Dr. Simonian is the best psychology professor I have had at the College," says student Ally Holm. "Her class is fun and interactive, and she is always willing to lend a helping hand."

Simonian says she tries help her students make real life applications from the material covered in class. One way is to ask her students to write a response paper answering the following question: "If they ran for president, what would they reform?" Her classes consist of group participation and class discussion about the topics at hand. "It is important that my students understand the big picture. For example, how some of the health issues that we talk about in class relate to their lives."

Simonian's semester grades consist of research papers, a group oral presentation and exams where she expects her students to be able to write and construct clear and descriptive sentences. Her courses generally do not consist of much written homework, but she does assign readings pertaining to the material talked about in class.

As if Dr. Simonian's life isn't busy enough teaching at the College of Charleston, helping graduate students at MUSC, and running her own clinical practice, she is also a wife and mother of two young children, Katherine and Matthew. In what leisure time she manages to find, she enjoys exercising and spending time with her family.