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Tracey honored for contributions to counseling psychology

September 04, 2008

Terence J.G. Tracey, professor of counseling psychology with the Mary Lou Fulton College of Education, has been honored with two of the American Psychological Association’s most prestigious awards for his career contributions to the field of counseling psychology. 

Tracey received the 2008 Leona Tyler Award for Lifetime Distinguished Contribution to Counseling Psychology on Aug. 18 at the APA National Convention in Boston. Tracey also was awarded an APA presidential citation for his 27 years of seminal research and his profound influence on the field of counseling and social psychology.

“The American Psychological Association has recognized Terry Tracey for his distinguished scholarship and impactful contributions to the field of counseling psychology by presenting him with two of the association’s most prestigious awards,” said Dr. George W. Hynd, senior vice provost for education and innovation and dean of the Mary Lou Fulton College of Education.

“His tireless support and passionate commitment to the profession of counseling psychology and to the education of its future leaders is legendary at ASU and across the country. I can think of no other individual more deserving of the APA's Presidential Citation and Tyler Award than our distinguished colleague and friend, Professor Tracey,” Hynd said.

The Leona Tyler Award, given to stimulate and reward research or professional achievement in counseling psychology, was named for the influential psychologist who theorized that individuality is based on the choices people make and how they cognitively organize their experiences. 

"Terry Tracey is an outstanding scholar who is internationally recognized for his empirical and theoretical contributions to counseling psychology including the areas of interpersonal aspects of behavior and personality, non-cognitive predictors of college success, and the development of vocational and other interests," lauded James Klein, professor and director of the Division of Psychology in Education within the Fulton College.

Tracey cultivated new theories about how human interests relate to educational and occupational choices, persistence, success and satisfaction. “Interest is a neglected area because we tend to over focus on competence,” he said. As a scholar whose career has given him carte blanche to study the issues that most interest him, Tracey’s theories propose the best choices result from an active exploration of options as people decide who and what they want to be. “For some people, it’s a daunting experience,” he said.

His research also has examined how people negotiate relationships to determine who they are and how they interact with others. He developed the cornerstone model used in counseling and psychotherapeutic practice today to determine how clients and counselors work together toward successful treatment. 

Underlying all of Tracey’s research themes is method. “I like numbers, so there’s a lot of methodological sophistication. All my research focuses on assessment,” he explained. “My goal is to provide information and better tools to counselors, psychologists and the public.” 

In the presidential citation, the APA noted how Tracey’s work helped to verify key theories in the fields of vocational interest research and interpersonal behavior. “His meticulous studies provided quantitative support for the conclusion that these mathematically complex models of subscales do, in fact, behave as underlying theories predict,” the APA noted. 

“It was very much a surprise to me,” Tracey said of the award announcement. “Everybody seemed to have known about it except me. It’s certainly a wonderful recognition of my body of research.” 

Tracey is one of the five most published authors in the history of the Journal of Counseling Psychology with more than 100 articles that have been cited more than 2,000 times.