Holbeck College

Champions of the Mind: Women Shaping the Landscape of Psychology

Published 8 March 2024. Written by Alex Corcoran.

Female psychologist

For International Women's Day 2022, we published an article on some of the many incredible women who have contributed to various fields in psychotherapy. This year, I want to highlight five more women and their important contributions.

We'll also expand the scope beyond counselling and psychotherapy, and look at some important contributions to psychology relevant to coaching.

Sue Johnson

Sue Johnson, a renowned clinical psychologist and psychotherapist, is widely acknowledged for her pivotal role in the development of Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT).

Born in England, Johnson has significantly contributed to the field of couples therapy. EFT, which she co-developed with Les Greenberg, is an evidence-based approach that places a central emphasis on emotions and their role in shaping human relationships. Johnson's work focuses on the power of emotional responsiveness and connection within intimate partnerships.

EFT is rooted in attachment theory, asserting that secure emotional bonds are essential for healthy relationships. Through her books, training programs, and extensive research, Johnson has not only shaped the practice of psychotherapy but has also played a crucial role in popularising the importance of emotional connection in couples' dynamics.

Rhonda Goldman

Rhonda Goldman is a prominent psychologist known for her significant contributions to the development and advancement of Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT). As a leading expert in the field, Goldman has worked extensively to expand and refine the theoretical foundations and clinical applications of EFT.

Goldman has played a key role in disseminating EFT through her writings, workshops, and training programs, making this approach more accessible to clinicians worldwide. Her collaborative efforts with other EFT pioneers, such as Les Greenberg and Sue Johnson, have further enriched the therapeutic landscape, particularly in the realm of emotion-focused approaches to psychotherapy.

Melanie Klein

Melanie Klein (1882–1960) was a pioneering psychoanalyst renowned for her significant contributions to the field of psychology, particularly in the domain of child psychoanalysis.

Born in Austria, Klein's work gained prominence in the early 20th century, and she later settled in England. Her groundbreaking ideas focused on understanding the inner world of young children and their emotional development. Klein expanded upon Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic theories by emphasising the importance of early childhood experiences and the role of unconscious fantasies in shaping personality.

She introduced innovative concepts such as the "depressive position" and the "paranoid-schizoid position," offering insights into the complexities of infantile mental life. Klein's work laid the foundation for object relations theory, influencing subsequent generations of psychologists and enriching the understanding of human development and psychopathology.

Carol Dweck

Carol Dweck, a distinguished psychologist and Stanford University professor, has made a transformative impact on the field of psychology, particularly in the realm of motivation, achievement, and learning.

Dweck is best known for her groundbreaking work on the concept of mindset. Her research has illuminated the idea that individuals hold either a fixed mindset or a growth mindset, influencing their beliefs about intelligence and abilities.

Dweck's pioneering insights have had profound implications for education, business, and personal development, as she demonstrates how cultivating a growth mindset can lead to greater resilience, learning, and success.

Angela Duckworth

Angela Duckworth, a distinguished psychologist and professor at the University of Pennsylvania, has significantly contributed to the understanding of achievement and success through her pioneering research on grit.

Grit, a term coined by Duckworth, refers to a combination of passion and perseverance in the pursuit of long-term goals. Her influential work challenges traditional notions of talent and intelligence, highlighting the crucial role of sustained effort and resilience in achieving exceptional accomplishments.