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Interdisciplinary Studies Social Sciences

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Interdisciplinary Studies Social Sciences
Psychology 269
(509) 963-1804

Cynthia Engel, IDS Director & Lecturer

Photo of Cynthia EngelEducation/Licensure:
MA Existential Phenomenological Psychology from Seattle University, 2014
BA Psychology, Central Washington University, 2009
BS Interdisciplinary Studies – Social Science, Central Washington University, 2009


Campus: Des Moines & Pierce County Centers
Phone: (509) 963-3813

Interests & Expertise:

Existential/phenomenological psychotherapy; abnormal psychology, substance abuse, recovery and resilience; the experience of life transitions; the experience of being “other”; the history of deinstitutionalization; social justice issues within underrepresented groups, Black Lives Matter, gender and LGBTQIA communities; serial killers.


Courses Taught:

IDS 289 – Introduction to the Major

IDS 353 - Bedlam to Bellevue – On Being “Mad” in the US from 1960 to Present

IDS 389 – Academic & Career Exploration

IDS 489 – Senior Portfolio

PSY 300 – Research Methods in Psychology

PSY 310 – Multicultural Psychology and Social Justice

PSY 346 – Social Psychology

PSY 415 - Behavioral Medicine and Health Psychology

PSY 438 – Substance Abuse and Dependence

PSY 460 – Cognitive Psychology

PSY 478 – Behavioral Neuroscience

PSY 483 – Psychology of Gender


My journey with Central Washington University began as an undergraduate student on the Des Moines campus.  I graduated from CWU with a double major, Psychology and Interdisciplinary Studies Social Science, in June of 2009. I returned to Highline Community College to gain certification as a Chemical Dependency Professional. Until Spring 2012, I returned to CWU each quarter to act as a teaching assistant on the Des Moines campus, assisting in core psychology classes. In June 2014, I graduated from Seattle University with a Master's degree in Existential-Phenomenological Psychology. My goal had always been to return to teach at CWU, and I am excited and honored to be here.


My academic and professional passions are reflected in the courses that I teach: Social Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, Substance Abuse and Dependence, Multicultural Psychology and Social Justice, and Bedlam to Bellevue, a new IDS offering that explores the history of the mental health care system and its impact on the individual and society. 

Photo of Cynthia Engel wiht family


In my free time, I love reading. In fiction, I favor Tom Robbins, John Irving, Christopher Moore, and Chuck Palahniuk, in no particular order.  For non-fiction, Mary Roach, hands down.  I listen to true crime podcasts and am an avid fan of My Favorite Murder.  I am still a practicing volunteer therapist and on the Board of Directors with Psychotherapy Cooperative, a non-profit organization that provides low cost psychotherapy to members of our community who do not have access to mental health care.  And when I have time off, I take frequent and long road trips to National Parks with my husband and two kiddos; and I haunt thrift shops in the Seattle area. 

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