A photo of Sharon L. Bethea, Ph.D. speaking at the Association of Black Psychologists, Inc. Annual Convention

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Professor of Counselor Education and Inner City Studies and Coordinator of the African and African American Studies program Sharon L. Bethea, Ph.D., became the 48th President of the Association of Black Psychologists, Inc. (ABPsi) at the ABPsi's 54th Annual Convention in Detroit, Michigan. 

Guided by the principle of self-determination, ABPsi was founded in 1968 in San Francisco, California, by Black psychologists and Black students. Their mission was to address the needs and well-being of Black professionals and the Black community and to disrupt the status quo. Steeped in the science and scholarship of African Black Psychology, ABPsi's purpose is to promote and advance the profession of African Psychology, influence and affect social change, and develop programs whereby psychologists of African descent can assist in solving problems of Black communities and other ethnic groups. ABPsi hosts an enstoolment ceremony every two years to install its president. Enstoolment ceremonies are sacred and are derived from African tradition when a new chief is installed. Dr. Bethea’s enstoolment ceremony took place on July 22. 

“As the 48th President of ABPsi, I absolutely adore our mission,” Dr. Bethea said. “The Association of Black Psychologists sees its mission and destiny as the liberation of the African Mind, empowerment of the African Character, and enlivenment and illumination of the African Spirit.”

Dr. Bethea earned a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Missouri at Columbus, an M.A. in Clinical Psychology from John F. Kennedy University and a B.A. in Psychology from San Francisco State University. Prior to being named president of ABPsi, Dr. Bethea served as the president of the association’s Chicago chapter. Additionally, Dr. Bethea is a co-founding member of the Genocide and Human Rights Research in Africa and the Diaspora Center (GHRAD Center) at Northeastern and member of the International Civil Society/Working Group for the United Nations Permanent Forum of People of African Descent (ICSWG). Dr. Bethea is certified in African/Black Psychology and has published numerous articles in professional journals and books, co-edited "Black Women’s Liberatory Pedagogies: Resistance, Transformation and Healing Within and Beyond the Academy," and has won several teaching awards, including the Student Choice Faculty Award, NEIU Black Heritage Outstanding Faculty Award, and Research and Lifetime Achievement Award. Dr. Bethea’s current scholarship centers on the theoretical and practical dimensions of African-centered pedagogy, Sawubona healing circles, African traditional healing systems, human rights and genocide, civic engagement among African American and Tanzanian adolescents, and Oakland Freedom Schools. Dr. Bethea also facilitates study abroad programs with students and colleagues to Brazil, Egypt, Ghana, Tanzania and Burundi.

“Teaching NEIU students has been one of the greatest joys of my life,” Dr. Bethea said. “I am very clear that I have been called to do this. NEIU students are some of the most brilliant and creative people I have met — and I say that as a person that has traveled to many places in the world including many universities. One of proudest moments for me as a human being is when I take NEIU students with me to explore the world. It’s life changing for them and for me.”

ABPsi has more than 1,400 members, its own scholarly journal (Journal of Black Psychology), an online career center, national and international programs, and thousands of publications and books concerning the theory and praxis of African Black Psychology. 

As president, Dr. Bethea will continue to strengthen ABPsi's national and international presence, expand ABPsi's four national/international programs — certification in African Black Psychology, Sawubona Healing Circles, ABPsi Global Institute, public school consultation — and continue to nurture and educate the next generation of Black professionals through ABPsi's student circle.  

“In an academic space where, many times, the essence of your human beingness and Africanity/Blackness is ignored and shunned, it is such a joy to be, zola [loved] upped on and sawubona [seen] by my incredible colleagues and the students of ABPsi,” Dr. Bethea said. “Being nominated and voted in as ABPSi’s 48th President is such an amazing and unbelievable honor. The mighty ancestors, elders and past presidents of ABPIs are the shoulders upon which I stand for this incredible journey as ABPsi’s President. This is definitely the pinnacle of my career.  I give a special thank you to my family, especially my Mom and Pops and my incredible son for their love and support. Ubuntu. [I am because we are.]”