Alan Tjeltveit, Ph.D.


Professor, Department Chair
Psychotherapy, Clinical Psychology
Moyer Hall - Room 220
Fax: 484-664-5627

B.A. St. Olaf College; M.A., Ph.D., Fuller Theological Seminary

Dr. Tjeltveit teaches courses about psychotherapy and counseling, abnormal psychology, philosophical psychology, and the psychology of good and evil.

I grew up in Red Lodge, Montana , a small town in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. I attended St. Olaf College, a small liberal arts college in Minnesota, where I double-majored in psychology and religion and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. I also studied in Egypt, India, Taiwan, and Japan. After spending a year working on a psychiatric unit, I moved to southern California to begin graduate school at a church-related university, Fuller Theological Seminary. I studied both clinical psychology and theology, earning an M.A. in the latter and a Ph.D. in the former. After completing a clinical psychology internship at the University of Minnesota, I worked as a psychotherapist on psychiatric units, engaged in a private practice, and taught part-time at the college and university levels. For several years, I maintained a small clinical practice in a United-Way funded, sliding scale family counseling center in Allentown. I began teaching at Muhlenberg in 1989. I am married to Maria. Our son, William David Tjeltveit, was born two days after graduation in 1998; our daughter, Anna Maria Tjeltveit, was born on Election Day, 2000 (no recount necessary!).

I like teaching psychology because people fascinate me. I find odd and unusual behavior particularly interesting and I like talking with students about it. Furthermore, I think it very important to help people. And so I think the practical applications of psychology — in psychotherapy, in education, and so forth — are very important. I like teaching psychology at Muhlenberg because the students are interesting, bright hardworking, socially-skilled, and concerned about other people. I like teaching in a liberal arts college because the connections among disciplines fascinate me, and making those connections is what we are all about.

I regularly teach Introductory Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, Psychotherapy and Counseling, Philosophical Psychology, and Clinical Research. I have also taught Psychology of Good and Evil and History of Psychology, and often supervise Independent Research projects.

Research Interests

Psychotherapy fascinates me and so I study it. I am a member of the Society for Psychotherapy Research, the Society for the Exploration of Psychotherapy Integration, and the Division of Psychotherapy of the American Psychological Association. My work with students addresses values, ethics, mental health, religion, spirituality, and psychotherapy. Some of my students and I have presented research we conducted together at national and international meetings of professional associations. Two students and I published an article exploring the relationships among mental health values (values relevant to good psychological functioning) and religious beliefs.

I am also interested in

  • the ethical dimensions of psychology, including values and ethics in psychotherapy;
  • professional ethics, including how psychologists can most effectively be educated to avoid ethical violations and to achieve ethical excellence; 
  • the connections among psychology and philosophy, and especially the subfield of theoretical and philosophical psychology; 
  • a variety of the many intersections among psychology and spirituality/religion; and 
  • the psychology of love of God and love of neighbor, including caring, compassion, volunteering, community service, and grace.


Selected Publications and Presentations

  • Tjeltveit, A. C. (in press). A brief moral history of psychotherapy. In M. Trachsel (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Psychotherapy Ethics. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. 
    Tjeltveit, A. C. (2017). Disentangling the many meanings of values. The Proceedings of the International Society for Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology.
  • Tjeltveit, A. C. (2016). Value conversion and moral (and spiritual?) transformations: Addressing some complexities of the ethical dimensions of psychotherapy. Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 35, 330–343.
  • Tjeltveit, A. C. (2015). Appropriately addressing scientists’ inescapable cognitive and moral values. Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, 35, 35–52. doi:10.1037/a0037909
  • Tjeltveit, A. C., & Gottlieb, M. C. (2012, April). Avoiding ethical missteps. APA Monitor, 43, 68–74.
  • Tjeltveit, A. C. (2012). What (if anything) can theologies contribute to psychologies of love? An introduction to the special issue. Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 31, 99–104.
  • Tjeltveit, A. C. (2011). Religion, spirituality, and mental health. In S. Knapp (Ed.), APA handbook of ethics in psychology (Vol. 1, pp. 279–294). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  • Tjeltveit, A. C. (2011). Understanding the psychological dimensions of love for God and neighbor-as-self: Science, scripture, cross [discussion article]. Edification, 5,84–99.
  • Tjeltveit, A. C. (2006). To what ends? Psychotherapy goals and outcomes, the good life, and the principle of beneficence. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 43, 186-200.
  • Tjeltveit, A. C. (2004). Understanding human beings in the light of grace: The possibility and promise of theology-informed psychologies. Consensus: A Canadian Lutheran Journal of Theology, 29, 99–122. 
  • Tjeltveit, A. C. (2004). The good, the bad, the obligatory, and the virtuous: The ethical contexts of psychotherapy. Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, 14, 149–167. 
  • Tjeltveit, A. C., & Fowers, B. F. (Eds.). (2003). Explorations of human excellence in behavioral science: Rediscovering virtue in scholarship, teaching, and practice [Special issue]. American Behavioral Scientist, 47 (4). 
  • Tjeltveit, A. C. (1999). Ethics and Values in Psychotherapy. London: Routledge. 
  • Tjeltveit, A. C., Fiordalisi, A. M., & Smith, C. (1996). Relationships among mental health values and various dimensions of religiousness. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 15, 364-377. (Muhlenberg student co-authors) 
  • Tjeltveit, A. C. (1986). The ethics of value conversion in psychotherapy: Appropriate and inappropriate therapist influence on client values. Clinical Psychology Review, 6, 515-537. 
  • Tjeltveit, A. C. (2017, August). Kinds of ethics and ethical kinds: Disentangling discordant and related meanings and/or realities. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, Washington, DC.
  • Tjeltveit, A. C. (2017, June). Interpreting the Boulder Conference: The development of normative visions of the science–practice relationship in clinical psychology. Paper presented at the annual meeting of Cheiron: The International Society for the History of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, Starkville, MS.
  • Tjeltveit, A. C. (2016, August). Ethical theories: Impairing and improving science–practice relationships. Paper presented as part of A. C. Tjeltveit (Chair), Integrating science and practice: Beneficial theory; detrimental theory, at the meeting of the American Psychological Association, Denver, CO.
  • Tjeltveit, A. C. (2016, May). Provoking one another to love: Psychological pitfalls; psychological contributions. Paper presented at the Meaning of Love conference, Biola University, La Mirada, CA.
  • Tjeltveit, A. C. (2016, March). Exhibiting love and justice in psychotherapy: Ethical tensions and resolutions. Continuing education presentation at the annual meeting of the Christian Association for Psychological Studies International, Pasadena, CA.
  • Tjeltveit, A. C. (2015, September). Ethical practice with clients who act badly and disgust us. Continuing Education presentation for the Immaculata pre-doctoral internship consortium supervisors, presented at Immaculata University, Immaculata, PA.
  • Tjeltveit, A. C. (2014, August). Theories of moral perception: When “neutrality” blinds, but moral convictions illumine. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, Washington, DC.
  • Heller, C. A., & Tjeltveit, A. C. Asperger’s versus Autistic Disorder? Clinician and student diagnosis and attitudes. Presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, San Francisco, CA, August, 2007. (Muhlenberg student co-author)
  • Tjeltveit, A. C. Caring and compassion in the clinic: Dangerous, essential dimensions of ethical practice. Invited "Distinguished Lecture" presented at Widener University, Chester, PA, March 22, 2005. 
  • Tjeltveit, A. C., Myers, B., Lanham, J., & Kelly, T. A. Measuring values relevant to mental health: Psychometric investigations of the Kelly Values Questionnaire.Presentation at the annual meeting of the Society for Psychotherapy Research, Geilo, Norway, June, 1997. (2nd & 3rd co-authors: Muhlenberg students)
  • Vera, T. Y., & Tjeltveit, A. C. The importance of gender and ethnic identity in Latinas.Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Association of Applied and Preventive Psychology. New York, New York, July, 1995. (Muhlenberg student co-author)