Coming full circle
Having a father like Jon Carlson, EdD, PsyD, could be
intimidating for any aspiring psychologist. As developer and
host of more than 250 therapy-training videos, Carlson’s
face and voice are familiar to psychology graduate students
nationwide. The longtime private practitioner and Governors
State University professor has also written 55 books, won the
2011 APA Award for Distinguished Career Contributions to
Education and Training in Psychology and was named a “Living
Legend” by the American Counseling Association.
But Carlson never pushed his son, Matt Englar-Carlson, PhD,
into becoming a carbon copy of him. Instead, Matt says, his father
influenced him by deploying good parenting skills. “He was always
very clear that I could do whatever I wanted to do,” says Matt, a
professor at California State University-Fullerton who specializes
in the psychological study of men and masculinity.
As Matt has blossomed in his career as an academician and
clinician, he and his father have joined forces on a number of
projects. Among them are co-authoring books and journal
articles and editing a monograph series that is tied to Jon’s
training videos, in which experts lay out theories that they then
demonstrate. The two also give workshops together, including
some on helping fathers and sons strengthen their relationships.
There, they briefly share their own stories to help men feel
comfortable telling their own.
“We’ve had a lot of experiences like that, where what is work
is also personal,” says Matt. “We travel together, give workshops
together, go to conferences together, and blend our work and
families. That’s a real bonus.“
These days, Matt is able to return some of the nurturing
his father has provided him. As Jon battles health problems,
Matt has stepped in, temporarily helping him to manage his
practice and organize his extensive library, which includes first
editions of Carl Rogers’s books and textbooks signed by other
luminaries in the field. “It’s nice that I know what these things
mean so that we can talk about them — we both get kind of
excited about that,” says Matt.
“In some ways Matt keeps me in line as we get older,” adds
Jon. “You parent your children, and sometimes your children
have to move up and parent you.” n