Golden Gate University Ranked #1 in US for Adult Learners for Second Consecutive Year

For the second consecutive year, Washington Monthly ranks Golden Gate University America’s #1 School for Adult Learners in its annual College Guide and Rankings.

How GGU Was Chosen

To compile the rankings, Washington Monthly reviewed data from the Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) survey, the department’s new College Scorecard database and the College Board’s Annual Survey of Colleges.

The metrics that determined GGU’s rating include:

  • ease of transfer/enrollment
  • flexibility of programs
  • services available for adult learners
  • percent of adult students (age 25+)
  • mean earnings of adult students ten years after entering college
  • loan repayment of adult students five years after entering repayment
  • tuition and fees for in-district students

Read the article in Washington Monthly >>

GGU’s Psychology Chair to Lead Discussion at Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California

Dr. Tom Wooldridge, Chair of the Department of Psychology at GGU, will be leading a discussion at the Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California in September. The discussion will follow a lecture by Kathryn J. Zerbe, MD and focus on secret-keeping and how bringing secrets to light in psychotherapy can result in positive outcomes. Dr. Zerbe is a well-known expert in the field of eating disorders and the author of several books including The Body Betrayed: Women, Eating Disorders. Attendees will get an inside look at a master clinician’s thinking about the complex clinical situations presented by patients with eating disorders.

Dr. Wooldridge will comment on the issues raised by Dr. Zerbe’s presentation. He is an authority on the subject of eating disorders and the author of Understanding Anorexia Nervosa in Males: An Integrative Approach (Routledge Press, 2015). His second book, an edited collection entitled Psychoanalytic Treatment of Eating Disorders: When Words Fail and Bodies Speak, will be released through the prestigious Relational Perspectives book series with Routledge in late 2017.

The Secret Life of Secrets: Toxic Effects of Preconscious Knowledge on the Development of Eating Disorders, Psychosomatic Illness, and Countertransference Reactivity

Kathryn J. Zerbe, MD with Discussant Tom Wooldridge, PsyD, CEDS
Wednesday, September 13, 7:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Location: 530 Bush Street #700, San Francisco
Register >>

We invite you to learn more about GGU’s master’s degree in counseling psychology  program.

What Makes for Quality Online Education?

by Doug Geier, GGU’s Director of eLearning and Instructional Design

Online education is enormously popular, with the number of online students in the US growing to over 6 million in 2015. This is true at Golden Gate University, where many students get their degrees or certificates 100% or partially online. Online classes provide a way for many students to fit education into their daily lives, an opportunity that they may not have otherwise.

If you become a GGU student, you will soon realize that you are at a school that takes online education seriously – 94% of students who took 80% or more of their courses online favorably rated the overall quality of their education at GGU (2016-17 GGU Graduating Student Survey).

More than an Internet Connection

At GGU, we think online learning is more than a medium or a convenient way to learn. Quality online learning is built with many elements – not just an instructor and an Internet connection. Here are the features of GGU’s quality eLearning experience:

  • Faculty experience in an online environment
  • Opportunities for interaction among students and instructors
  • Stimulating and engaging eLearning
  • Integrated online learning platform for interaction, multimedia, and assignment submission
  • Dedicated eLearning department to ensure proper student and faculty proficiency
  • 24/7 support team for technical issues students may have
  • Curriculum that connects learning to the real world

Creating the GGU Online Experience: The eLearning Department

I have a passion for online learning because it provides an opportunity for all students to participate in course activities, contribute to the discussion, and engage with one another. (No one has a “back-row” seat in online learning.) It’s also a great supplement to classroom learning and provides a great deal of flexibility for the adult learner.

One of the building blocks of the GGU online experience is the eLearning Department, which I lead. The eLearning instructional designers have experience and training in both technology and education—and how the two come together for effective teaching and learning. Through GGU’s Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence, the instructional design team supports faculty in the effective use of technology for education.

Golden Gate University has been recognized for excellence in online education for its MBA, Counseling Psychology, and graduate-level Accounting programs.
Learn more about GGU’s accolades >>

Even though we have been offering online education for over 20 years, we are always seeking to improve the student experience. We stay on top of the latest trends and effective practices by monitoring educational blogs, publications, and sites related to technology, online learning, and higher education. Educause Learning Initiative, EdSurge HigherEd, the Online Learning Consortium, and WCET are all wonderful sources of information and inspiration. We also exchange ideas with others in the online education community through attendance at conferences and meetups. Most importantly, we listen to feedback from students and faculty and strive to continually improve the quality of online education at GGU.

My Experience as an Online Student

I hear positive feedback from our online students, but I also share this perspective as a fellow online student at GGU. I’ll be completing my MBA degree this year, most of which I have taken online. If the courses had not been challenging and provided the opportunity to interact with fellow students and the instructor, I wouldn’t have remained engaged and interested. As a working professional, I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish this if not for effective online courses.

About Doug Geier

Doug Geier is the Director of eLearning and Instructional Design at Golden Gate University where he oversees LMS support, instructional design, help desk and proctored testing services. He was a 2012 participant in the Online Learning Consortium’s (OLC) Institute for Emerging Leadership in Online Learning and continues to be an active member of the OLC community–serving as a volunteer, presenter, and conference track chair. Doug is also a member of the Substantive Change Committee with the WASC Senior College and University Commission and a part-time MBA student at GGU. In previous roles, Doug has held positions in educational software publishing and online learning as a producer, content developer, and instructional designer.

Culturally Sensitive Mental Health Treatment for War-Traumatized Syrian Children

In the Middle East, learning from and respecting the culture of the population we are working with is a necessary step that will help build trust, understanding, and acceptability of evidence-based mental health interventions. Culturally informed conversations with Syrian refugees, for example, will help them become more aware of the treatment approaches available to them and give them more agency in their treatment. This will also support the development of new treatment programs better suited to their needs.

HeadHealth (, an organization I founded in 2016, is dedicated to funding, designing, and implementing quality, evidence-based and culturally appropriate mental health services for some of the world’s most vulnerable people. The organization strongly rejects the idea of implementing a Western-style treatment program that does not adequately take into consideration the needs and culture of the local populations being served – for example, work with war-traumatized Syrian children living in Jordan.

Mental health programs must align treatment modalities with the cultural values and clinical needs of a given person or population. Making relevant adaptations to traditional (Western) psychotherapeutic treatment modalities for global populations will help reduce the fear, uncertainty, and uneasiness with mental health treatment in general.

Wajdi Fakhoury on a trip to Jordan in 2016, where he decided to form HeadHealth.

I would like to describe how certain aspects of traditional psychotherapy could be adapted for Middle Eastern populations using HeadHealth as an example.

Addressing the Language Barrier in Mental Health Services
Often, mental health providers from international organizations lack the language skills necessary to communicate effectively with consumers of mental health services abroad. The utilization of an interpreter and the general lack of cultural understanding around symptomology, diagnosis, family, and societal norms greatly affect the development of the all-important therapeutic relationship between provider and consumer. There should be no dependence on translators during interventions. HeadHealth’s culturally and linguistically trained US-based clinical team empowers local professionals to speak with children in their own language.


Involving Syrian Families in Mental Health Treatment
Studies have indicated that many individuals from Middle Eastern backgrounds are suspicious of seeking treatment that is culturally incongruent. Emphasizing the normative and traditional role of family and — better yet — actively involving and incorporating family members in treatment activities, enables HeadHealth to overcome some of the limitations of traditional Western psychotherapeutic approaches. This is typically preferred by the non-Western, community-oriented populations we work with.

Many studies indicate that in the Middle East, individual “talk-therapy” is often perceived to be contrary to the cultural norm that insists private family affairs not be discussed with outsiders. HeadHealth’s current program does not engage consumers in individual therapy but instead emphasizes community, group, and family work.

Western approaches emphasize the individual. HeadHealth invites the parents, siblings, cousins, friends, aunts, and uncles to engage with HeadHealth’s materials to reduce the mental health implications of war trauma for children.

Fakhoury on his 2016 Visit of Jordan
“I saw thousands of Syrian children who were devastated by the loss of  family, community, and country. The cry of one inconsolable Syrian child searching for the parents, siblings, and friends he knew were no longer alive haunts me to this day.”

Gender and Psychology in the Middle East
HeadHealth recognizes that what is socially acceptable about gender interactions in the West may be far from acceptable in some communities in the Middle East. Many families and communities in the region may not feel comfortable with a female family member engaging with male service providers and vice versa; therefore, HeadHealth utilizes the expertise of both female and male providers. Being aware of differences between Western and Middle Eastern cultures may help alleviate unnecessary tension and may help the mental health program become more approachable to certain communities.

Religious Sensitivity
HeadHealth is not political and is not affiliated with any religion. HeadHealth emphasizes an organization-wide culture that stresses the need for its entire staff to respect all religions. Islam has penetrated almost every aspect of life in much of the Middle East – even in the lives of Middle Eastern people who are not Muslim. Disrespecting Islam will almost certainly influence the therapeutic alliance between a service provider and consumer in much of the Middle East and will likely add to any existing suspicion of mental health treatment and services.

Communication Style
Several studies suggest that many consumers in the Middle East prefer an authoritative and directive style from their treatment providers. In the current program, HeadHealth has implemented an approach aligned with this preference. The consumers’ need to feel confident in the expertise of their provider is met without employing tactics that promote an all-powerful image of the provider.

HeadHealth is concrete in how it communicates to consumers about the role of each treatment activity and what each treatment activity targets. HeadHealth avoids using unnecessary clinical jargon and other languages that might hinder the all-important process of engagement and collaboration with consumers.


Mental Health Stigma in the Middle East
It is common for people in the Middle East to engage traditional healers, religious leaders, or family members before seeking out formal psychotherapeutic services. Although Western and non-Western mental health treatment approaches do not always complement one another, it is crucial to respect what individuals and families want. Building a bridge of respect and curiosity between even seemingly contradictory treatment approaches is a valuable tool that helps HeadHealth better understand the needs of the diverse populations it serves and helps break down the stigma that prevents many from accessing its crucial services.

All images used in HeadHealth’s clinical material are sensitive to the cultural and societal norms that dominate the region where we are working. For instance, perceived intimacy between males and females (holding hands, being alone in a room, etc.) will not appear in any of the material.

The trauma-informed children’s book incorporates images depicting immediate and extended families and communities rather than only individuals. For example, we are working in Jordan, where the scenes depicted in the clinical material are relevant to the Syrian children who live there.

These culturally and linguistically appropriate strategies also have implications for Western mental health professionals who want to work effectively with immigrants from the Middle East. With millions of refugees bringing their war trauma with them, Western practitioners must be well prepared to provide them with effective mental health interventions.

Wajdi Akef Fakhoury, MA, IMFT and Ph.D. Candidate is an alumnus of Golden Gate University’s Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology program. Please support HeadHealth on its GoFundMe page.

Request Information about GGU’s MA Counseling Psychology >>

GGU Ranks Among Top Eight Online Colleges in California

The Best Schools released their top eight online colleges in California and Golden Gate University has made the list! Acquiring such a prestigious award demonstrates our ability to deliver a quality education inside and outside of the classroom.

The ranking was earned based on school awards, faculty strengths, and program offerings. Today, over 3.2 million students are pursuing a post-secondary education in California. Luckily, the internet allows students across the globe to experience GGU with the click of their mouse.


Thanks to online programs, new mothers, full-time professionals and spontaneous travelers can obtain a degree without skipping a beat. The flexibility of our programs allows someone to begin in-person and end online if they choose.

Ageno’s programs include graduate certificates (5-6 course programs) and masters degrees in many areas of business such as psychology, marketing, business administration. For all interested in an online (or even in-person) education, we offer webinars for each of our programs. These online events allow attendees to learn more about GGU course offerings and ask questions in real time.

Who would’ve thought the internet could be used for more than social media and Google searches!?