Faculty Spotlight: Professor Beth Greivel

Greivel“I was always interested in psychology, but didn’t give myself permission to follow that interest until after I started volunteering at a hotline,” shared Beth Greivel, a graduate of and current part-time core faculty member in the Wright Institute’s Counseling Psychology Program. “I found that weekly time was a highlight of my week; it was such an honor to talk to people who called in that I decided to make it my career.”

Professor Greivel grew up in Lakewood, Colorado, a suburb of Denver, where she lived with her parents and two older sisters. She attended public schools where both of her parents were teachers and coaches. “My family was active in the community and in our Catholic church,” Professor Greivel reflected. “My parents were married for over 50 years when my mom died and they had very strong values in charity, community, and education.” Her parents clearly passed those values on to their daughter.

After graduating from high school, Professor Greivel enrolled in the University of Colorado in Boulder. “I’ve always loved school and college was no different,” she explained. She was interested in studying psychology, but a few negative experiences with counselors during her childhood gave her pause. “Additionally, in Boulder’s Introduction to Psychology classes, they mandated that students be participants in psychological research, and that felt strange to me,” she recalled. “I decided to study English instead because I’ve always loved reading and analyzing characters’ motivations, authors’ intents, and the impact that stories have on society – basically a happy second place to psychology.” Professor Greivel graduated with her BA in English Literature in 1997.

Professor Greivel enrolled in an education masters program at the University of Denver immediately following her undergraduate studies. “Honestly, I wasn’t really sure what to do with an English degree, and teaching was what I knew,” she admitted. “Plus, as noted previously, I’ve always loved school.” Professor Greivel worked both a full-time and a part-time job while working towards her master’s degree. She graduated with her MA in Education in 1999, a task which undoubtedly required long hours, dedication, and high level time management skills to accomplish.

Despite her interest in teaching and her love of the students, Professor Greivel’s teaching career was short-lived. “I student-taught in 1997 at Columbine High School,” she shared, “and then my first year as a contracted teacher was at the high school where Columbine students went after their school was destroyed in April 1999.” This experience had a huge impact on Professor Greivel as it did to a lesser degree on teachers, students, and parents across the country. “After the Columbine shooting, I had serious questions about the structure and purpose of schools while gun control is not a thing,” she recalled. “I didn’t feel qualified to help adolescents deal with the fear that they had coming to school every day.” When that school year ended, Professor Greivel decided it was time to pursue a different path.

For the next fifteen years, Professor Greivel worked as a Technology Manager, Trainer, and Applications Support Specialist for Folger, Levin, & Kahn LLP (later Folger & Levin LLP), a Labor & Corporate Law Firm in San Francisco. She described herself as a “Jill-of-all-trades” at the firm, noting that she particularly enjoyed training employees and working with attorneys in litigation. “A job in IT is not that far removed from being a therapist,” she explained. “People call in a panic, you help them problem solve, and then calm them down and give them help to avoid the issue in the future.”

After the passage of California’s Proposition 8, which denied the recognition of same-sex marriage, Professor Greivel went through a period of depression. “My therapist suggested I look into volunteering somewhere where I felt like I was doing something positive for the LGBTQIQPA+ communities,” she shared. “She was, as per usual, right.” Professor Greivel volunteered at the LGBT National Help Center from 2009-2012, answering calls and helping the callers find counseling, resources, and information. Not only did it help her depression as her therapist had suggested it would, it also made it clear to Professor Greivel that she needed to take her career in a new direction. “I knew I wanted to be a therapist, and I had friends who were supervisors of new clinicians, so I asked them who among their interns were the most prepared,” she recalled. “The answer always came back to the Wright Institute.”

On that recommendation, Professor Greivel applied for and enrolled in the Counseling Psychology Program at the Wright Institute in the fall of 2012. She really enjoyed being part of a cohort of students and getting to connect with professors and administrators in the close-knit community. “One of my biggest challenges was going from a career where I was incredibly competent to being a beginner,” she admitted. “Some of my skills transferred, but ultimately I was starting over and wasn't used to feeling like I didn't know anything.” Because she was working full-time while in school, Professor Greivel decided to defer her practicum to her third year. “I don't regret my decision,” she said confidently. “I think given what I was doing at the time, I would have burnt out if I'd tried to do my practicum on top of everything else.” Professor Greivel graduated from the Wright Institute in 2015.

During her time at the Wright Institute, Professor Greivel led a California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT) proposal to outlaw conversion therapy. “I got involved in the CAMFT proposal because I found it appalling that my lobbying body still thought that sexual orientation was potentially a thing that could be ‘cured,’” she reflected. Working with an advocacy group from GAYLESTA, Professor Greivel spent over a year writing the proposal, getting signatures, contacting board members, and fielding questions. “Ultimately the CAMFT proposal was successful,” she shared proudly. “My team and I were able to get CAMFT to say outright that MFTs should not practice conversion therapy. It was a really good day.”

Simultaneously, Professor Greivel was still working full-time at Folger & Levin LLP. Thinking back on her time working in the law field, Professor Greivel identified one major highlight. “I was able to contribute when the firm did an amicus filing for PFLAG in the Supreme Court marriage cases that eventually ended in recognition of the equality of same-sex marriage,” she explained. “I still have a copy of the brief in my therapy office.” The firm received PFLAG’s “Flag Bearer” award for their contributions.

After graduating from the Wright Institute in 2015, Professor Greivel worked at The Psychotherapy Institute in Berkeley as a Staff Therapist until 2017. “The training at TPI is amazing,” she shared enthusiastically. “The supervisor:associate ratio is 3:1, and I was able to immerse myself in psychodynamic theory.” In her role at TPI, Professor Greivel worked with individuals, couples, and families with a wide range of backgrounds and identities. “During that training, I really learned who I am as a therapist and how to bring that into the room to best help my clients in their healing,” she reflected.

From 2017-2018, Professor Greivel worked as an Employee Assistance Counselor at UC Berkeley, where she offered psychotherapeutic services for employees. “My work was primarily about helping employees get access to counseling/therapy, as well as giving training to departments or individuals on self-care or psychological processes,” she explained. “The complexity was more around systems larger than and including the university system: insurance costs and needs, federal leave laws, and labor laws in general influence so many people’s access to mental wellness.” In this role, Professor Greivel learned how to navigate these systems in order to support her clients.

Professor Greivel opened her own private practice in Oakland in 2017. Over the years, she’s learned that running a successful practice is far from an independent endeavor. “I rely on a large network of colleagues and support system,” she shared. “Referrals are almost always word-of-mouth, and I need to have trusted colleagues with whom to consult to provide the best care for my clients.” Professor Greivel specializes in areas such as early addiction recovery, trauma recovery, and work/life balance in her practice and credits her clients for helping her develop these areas of expertise. “Essentially, I learned how to help people by helping people,” she reflected. “When I get a client with an issue that is within my scope of practice but not competence, then I take classes until that competence is reached.”

Since 2014, Professor Greivel has participated in a Privilege Peer Group. This group focuses on the privilege that a therapist holds in the room by virtue of their role and various other societal factors. They examine the effect this has on the therapeutic experience and work to mitigate them. “The group has influenced me to take insurance, which is not something that a lot of practitioners do in our area,” she shared. “I’m able to provide therapy to people with a lot of different social locations when therapy sessions only cost them a co-pay.” Professor Greivel continues to attend this group bi-monthly and credits it for her ability to practice with a focus on cultural relational theory.

In 2017, the Wright Institute’s Counseling Psychology Program was hiring a new adjunct professor and Professor Greivel applied. “I had a Master’s in Education, had enjoyed teaching, and had always wanted to go back to it,” she reflected. “When a position became available, I applied and was accepted!” She was glad to rejoin the community she had felt so at home in during her graduate studies. In those first two years as an adjunct professor, she taught Diagnosis and Empirically Supported Treatments and Couples Counseling.

Beth ChickenProfessor Greivel was asked to join the program’s part-time core faculty in 2019. She began teaching more courses, including Counseling Theories and Techniques, Sexual Development and Health, and MFT Professional Development Seminar and served as the Student Mentoring Program Coordinator. “I like the camaraderie,” she explained. “Our faculty is full of interesting, knowledgeable, fun people.” After returning to an adjunct role for a couple of years, the Counseling Psychology Program was thrilled to welcome Professor Greivel back as a part-time core faculty member this fall.

In her free time, Professor Greivel can often be found in her verdant backyard, tending to her plants and chickens. “My backyard is crammed with rare and native plants, fruits and vegetables, and a large chicken coop where my three chickens reside: Opal, Kit, and Edith,” she shared. “They used to be avid egg-layers, but now Opal and Edith are too old, so they're just living out their best lives eating bugs and scratching where I've politely asked them not to.” Professor Greivel also loves quilting, sewing her own clothes, and spending time with her dog and cat, both of whom she described as rotten. “Recently, my wife and I decided to convert our very unused dining room into a craft room, and I couldn't be more excited,” she exclaimed. “I would much rather have my sewing machine permanently out and eat on the couch.”