Random Sample

Dr. Yakushko has been a member of APA since 1998. Her hometown is Santa Barbara, Calif.

What she does

Yakushko is a psychology professor at Pacifica Graduate Institute, in Carpinteria, Calif., where she is also research director of the clinical psychology program. She teaches courses in social psychology, research design and dissertation development. In addition, she is a licensed practitioner.

Fascinated by Freud

Yakushko was born in Kiev, Ukraine, and came to the United States at age 18, just as the Soviet Union was breaking up in 1991. She had a passion for psychology — in particular, Freud and Jung — but in her home country, the discipline was either conflated with psychiatry or viewed as a way of controlling political dissent. After several years in the United States, she applied to the University of Missouri– Columbia, where she earned her PhD in 2004.

Understanding prejudice

Perhaps not surprisingly, one research area that has captured Yakushko’s interest is Americans’ attitudes toward immigrants and refugees. “I have had so many privileges in my education, but still I have people tell me that I don’t belong here or they dismiss my native country as a dark, uneducated place.” With her colleagues she has developed a scale to study xenophobia. “Coming from Europe, xenophobia is more understood. But in the United States, people can’t even spell the word.”.

Motivating students
Based on what she’s seen in her own classroom, Yakushko has developed a business idea: an online coaching service for students who are stuck on their dissertations. “It’s a difficult process for many people,” she says. In fact, she says, more than half of all doctoral students in all fields take more than 10 years to complete their degrees. “It’s often a psychological issue that keeps people from completing their dissertations, so I want to explore those issues with people and help them get it done.”
Family time

She has two children — ages 6 and 3 — with her husband Marcus Flathman, PhD, who is a clinical psychologist. And if she has a spare moment, she writes fiction. Last year, she drafted two novels: “Beautiful Life,” about an unlikely connection between a wealthy American woman and an undocumented immigrant teen, and “What Lies Within,” about the human need to live life meaningfully and in relationship to others. “What it feels like to be a psychologist really informs my writing,” she says.

—S. Martin

 


Each month, "Random Sample" profiles an APA member. You may be next.