MS in Counseling

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Bengu Erguner-Tekinalp, Ph.D.

Professor of Education

“What do you first do when you learn to swim? You make mistakes, do you not? And what happens? You make other mistakes, and when you have made all the mistakes you possibly can without drowning - and some of them many times over - what do you find? That you can swim? Well - life is just the same as learning to swim! Do not be afraid of making mistakes, for there is no other way of learning how to live!” Alfred Adler

Contact Information

Phone: 515-271-2170
Address: 2507 University Ave. Des Moines, IA 50311



BS: Middle East Technical University, Turkey
MS: Middle East Technical University, Turkey
PhD: Auburn University

Honors & Professional Memberships

I have served various state, national and international counseling organizations. I have served on the boards of Iowa School Counselors Association, Iowa Talented and Gifted Association, and Iowa Safe Schools. I have also taken leadership and board membership roles in North American Society of Adlerian Psychology, Theory and Research co-chair, American Counseling Association, International Committee; Counselors for Social Justice Ethics and Human Rights committee. I have also involved in various State initiatives and programs such as Iowa State of Education, Social Emotional Learning taskforce advisory, Iowa (formerly Iraqi) Refugee Support Project board member and Iowa Latino/a Education task force. I am on the editorial board of Journal of School Counseling, Journal of Happiness Studies, Turkish Psychological Counseling and Guidance. I have counseling experiences at various settings including university counseling center, a center for traumatized children and adjudicated adolescents as well as elementary and middle school settings.

Areas of Expertise

My research agenda evolves in three interconnecting areas of research: cross-cultural counseling, positive psychology and school counseling. I have conducted research and published journal articles and book chapters and books in resilience, happiness, gratitude, positive interventions, school counseling, and multicultural counseling and diversity. With an overarching humanistic orientation, my guiding theoretical orientation in practice and research is Individual (Adlerian) Psychology. Recently, I have been developing my expertise and research focus on mindfulness and contemplative practices, especially the applications in K-12 and higher education. Combining Adlerian concept of social interest and encouragement with mindfulness practices, I am working on identifying how we can overcome the perceived barriers (cultural, political, personal) and find ways to connect with “others” (actually other “me”s) to have a more heartful presence and full connection with other beings in life.

Courses Taught

The courses I typically teach are: Counseling Diverse Populations, Methods of Counseling, Theories of Counseling, Assessment in Counseling, Introduction to Counseling, Human Development and Life Span Issues.  My main philosophy of teaching is setting a safe environment of exploring and letting ourselves strive for learning, not perfection. Teaching is my element! I enjoy being in the classroom, exploring, discovering, and learning with my students.  I enjoy learning and trying new strategies as I strive to be more present for my students, to be more understanding, to be more caring, to share my knowledge and insight; and to create a better learning experience for my students. I approach teaching holistically. Learning is not only a cognitive process but it is also physical, emotional and spiritual. For this reason, I took many approaches to learning in the courses that I teach. We write poems about our lives.  We interview and try to connect with people whom we deem impossible to connect. We force ourselves to try something different, try to do things out of our comfort zones. We administer and take different psychological tests, including an IQ test, to develop empathy for how it feels to take a psychological test. We role-play counseling sessions. We experiment with different techniques from different theories. We have a simulation where students make and sell paper bags to understand survival in poverty conditions. In my courses we analyze cognitively and connect emotionally. We enjoy learning.

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