Dr. Robert Lawson has had a very unique life. In most cases a personal biography is not relevant to one’s professional credibility. However, when one considers a therapist, this is not the case. An individual wants a therapist with life experience, and in Dr. Lawson’s case, we find an abundance.
In terms of institutional education, Robert Lawson received a bachelor’s degree (BA) in Philosophy, with a concentration in aesthetics, a master’s degree (MA) in Dance/Movement Therapy from New York University and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His research and dissertation involved an inquiry into regressive states of consciousness as they pertain to the creative process, using creative writers, dancers, and visual artists as subjects in his research.
However, when asked about his education, he normally defers to his twelve years of international travel, between the ages of 22 and 34. It was during this time that Robert feels he became acquainted with the human psyche. He lived for three years in Europe, (mostly France, and eight months in Ibiza, Spain), one year in Africa (Senegal) three years in South America, and one year in the Caribbean. He also traveled within the United States. For eight of these twelve years he did not speak English. For two and a half years, he lived in a black fishing village in Bahia, in northern Brazil, in a mud house with a roof made of palm leaves…about 40 feet from the ocean. There was no electricity, no running water, and no bathroom. At one point, quite a few years ago, he was proficient in four languages: English, French, Portuguese, and German.
I have often heard Dr. Lawson say that he became a therapist because he loves the human race. After 12 years of travel he did decide that the nature of humans was to be kind, although he acknowledges the immense behavioral repertoire of every individual. He also states, half kidingly, that he became a therapist by default because he failed at music, poetry, and dance…although he continues to enjoy and participate in the above activities.
A biography of his years of travel would be a book in itself, so let it be understood that these experiences helped shape his understanding of the species…and himself.
In addition to his formal education and years of travel, Dr. Lawson taught psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for 21 years…6 years as a graduate student and 15 years as an adjunct assistant professor. During this time, he won 5 teacher of the year awards. He taught mostly abnormal psychology, personality theory, and psychotherapy. He has a theoretical understanding of the field of psychology that is rarely seen in practicing professional psychotherapists. Most therapists do not teach.
A few more relevant biographical facts: Dr. Lawson has been practicing yoga and meditation for 42 years, although he states that he has been a slow learner in this regard. He is very involved in “somatic psychology” and subsequently views the individual in a holistic context, not ignoring the body component. His years of yoga, dance training, and a master’s degree in dance/movement therapy account for this prowess.
Dr. Lawson began his training as a therapist in 1980 in New York City, and became a licensed, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist in 1993. Since that time he has been working with individuals (adolescents and adults), and doing couples counseling. He presently works at his home office on Damascus Church Road in Chapel Hill. He lives in the woods on a large clean pond/lake and spends much of his time swimming, gardening and landscaping.