CIU counseling professor named board president of prominent institute

January 17, 2020

Dr. Steven A. Johnson, CIU assistant professor of Ministry Care is the new president of The Albert Ellis Institute Board of Directors in New York City. The Institute promotes emotional and behavioral health in the use of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) as a comprehensive, evidence-based psychotherapy.

Johnson’s affiliation with the Institute began in 1997, and he has served on the board of directors since 2014. He is a certified REBT supervisor and a diplomate in REBT. 

Albert Ellis founded the Institute in 1959. His therapy was the first among the cognitive therapies, and is now the go-to therapy for most mental, emotional, and behavioral conditions. The Institute has affiliated training centers throughout the world, including, the United States, India, Russia, Central America, South America, Turkey, South Africa, Romania, Italy, Canada, Pakistan, Australia and Serbia.

Johnson says REBT is revolutionary because it is not so much past events that function as the cause of emotions and behaviors, but thoughts about those events.

“This point gives hope to clients, some of whom have very debilitating mental, emotional, and behavioral conditions,” Johnson said. “Because while none of us can change past events, we are, with effort, able to change our dysfunctional thoughts about those events that tend to cause us to experience deeply painful emotions and self-sabotaging behaviors.”

Johnson adds that REBT is more in-tune with the biblical principle of “so as a man thinks in his heart so is he,” than some other therapies, embracing the power of right belief and right action to free us from being slaves to our past.  

Among his goals as president of the Institute Board, Johnson would like to expand training centers around the world and promote research on issues negatively affecting physical health.

“One area that is a passion of mine is developing additional treatments for PTSD, especially among immigrant populations,” Johnson said. “I currently run training workshops for psychotherapists associated with the military and police in the United States and Eastern Europe.  I want to expand that to training mental health practitioners in prisons.”

Johnson adds that because he interacts with friends and colleagues who are the pre-eminent mental health researchers around the world, he is able to bring the outcomes of the latest research to CIU students. 

“I have thoroughly enjoyed taking groups of CIU students to the Albert Ellis Institute where they presented the research they have conducted at CIU, for example, the effectiveness of prayer in treating anxiety,” Johnson said. “That research has been very positively accepted by eminent researchers in the field, which even created publishing opportunities for those students.”

Johnson’s hope is that his collaboration with mental health practitioners and researchers around the world creates an opportunity for CIU students to get cross-cultural counseling experiences.

“I am blessed to be friends with experts in treatment of mental health conditions and who are more than willing to visit our campus and present their work to our students, and even afford our students opportunities to cooperate in their research,” Johnson said.

Learn from experienced professors such as Dr. Steven Johnson. Check out CIU’s Master of Arts in Care and Counseling program. CIU consistently ranks among the Top Regional Universities in the South by U.S. News & World Report. Request information on enrollment at CIU and Columbia Biblical Seminary or call (800) 777-2227, ext. 5024.