Jolyn Davidson, RN, M.A. ’84, always knew her life’s calling involved working with people to manage their illnesses and wounds, restoring them to health. But the path to fulfilling this calling took an unexpected turn when, in her first year as a nurse, she discovered the impact psychological patterns had on people’s physical, emotional, and spiritual growth. “I found my passion and purpose not in healing people’s physical wounds, but in attending to their mental health,” she said.

This registered nurse went on to earn a degree in clinical social work and earn a Master of Arts in Student Development at APU. Today, Davidson draws on this rich background at her private psychotherapy practice in Covina, where, for the last 34 years, she has journeyed with hundreds of clients from all walks of life through mental and emotional roadblocks, helping them change attitudes that negatively affect their lives.

“The foundational patterns of how we feel, think, and act are forged in early childhood,” she said. “No one has a perfect childhood, so everyone grows up with challenges in emotional and spiritual development. But early trauma is not a life sentence; instead, we can use it to build wisdom and healthier attitudes.”

Davidson noticed a gap in the resources available to people struggling with issues caused by problematic early-life experiences. Many self-help books offered simple tips to fix emotional problems on the surface, failing to guide readers in discovering the root causes of their problems. Davidson developed a holistic approach to changes, grounded in cutting-edge research and years of clinical experience, detailed in her recent book, Transforming Wounds into Wisdom: Change Your Attitudes and Save Your Life (New Perspectives Press, 2015).

First, Davidson helps her clients identify how certain anxiety, depression, or coping patterns developed. Did a certain traumatic event such as the loss of a parent, abuse, severe illness, bullying, or difficult family relationships foster negative patterns of managing emotions? Did a lack of emotional availability from parents contribute to unhealthy relationships later in life? Davidson then works with patients to understand how such patterns impact their self-image, relationships with others, and daily lives.

Finally, she coaches clients through the grieving process, helping them to replace harmful attitudes and relationship patterns with life-enhancing approaches. She compares this process to lifting weights, which creates small tears that heal over time to build stronger muscle tissue. “When we grieve and move on from painful losses, we grow stronger in those areas and develop a deeper sense of wisdom,” she said. “We can then better understand and help others on similar journeys.”

In the confidentiality of her office, she guides young single moms navigating parenting, high school students battling insecurity, clients fighting depression or frustrated by failed relationships, and sometimes each member of a single family. helping all move beyond pain so they can thrive. In her book, she writes, “Wisdom emerges out of the crucible of our sufferings, as we lovingly embrace the undeveloped and wounded parts of ourselves with truth, acceptance, and mercy, and engage in the process of transforming our lives.”