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Hanoch Livneh
Hanoch Livneh

Roads to Rehabilitation

Adapting to life-altering circumstances

In Hanoch Livneh's work, the unexpected takes center stage. Traumatic brain injuries. Spinal cord injuries. Disease. Disability. The rehabilitation counseling professor’s award-winning research studies how individuals cope with these traumas. This work has deepened our understanding of how humans adapt to adversity and stigma, and become required reading in rehabilitation psychology and counseling programs nationwide.

Professor Hanoch Livneh's career didn’t turn out the way he imagined. When he began, he expected to focus on traditional clinical work. Instead, the 24-year Portland State veteran has become a household name in rehabilitation psychology and counseling research.

The field of rehabilitation psychology focuses on how individuals cope with disability and illness, teasing out individual, cultural and societal factors that explain why some people adapt better than others.

As American forces return from wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the issue of rehabilitation has grown more urgent. "People are more aware of what it means to have a brain injury, a spinal cord injury, psychological issues due to traumatic events," Livneh says.

Another result has been a doubling in the number of applications to the Rehabilitation Counseling Program at PSU, which Livneh founded in 1988 and which is ranked #23 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. In fact, over the past two years, the increasingly competitive program has turned down almost two-thirds of applicants.

Widely considered one of the top researchers in his field, Livneh has published more than 100 refereed journal articles, three books and over 30 book chapters. Livneh's model of adaptation to chronic illness and disability has been described as one of the most comprehensive models in explaining how we react to chronic illness and disability.

He has won several research awards, including the American Rehabilitation Counseling Association's James F. Garrett Award for a Distinguished Career in Rehabilitation Research, and has been a Fellow of the American Psychological Association since 1998.

Livneh also stands out as a faculty member dedicated to student learning. In 2010, in collaboration with his colleague Tina Anctil, they secured a $735,310 grant from the U.S. Department ofEducation (Rehabilitation Services Administration) that has made it possible to offer students in the graduate program sizable stipends that cover all or part of their tuition.

After 35 years in higher education, Livneh credits his students, colleagues and people with disabilities for sustaining his interest in the field.

"I learn from them," he says.

Read more about PSU's outstanding faculty.