Dr. Philip Nelson brings a diverse background of clinical experience to Oral Roberts University. Dr. Nelson comes to ORU after working at a variety of mental health facilities including a Veteran Affairs hospital, a College Counseling Center, private practice, and while on his doctoral internship at the Oklahoma Forensic Center, which is the largest inpatient behavioral health facility in the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services system. Dr. Nelson has taught a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses, such as Health Psychology, Industrial-Organizational Psychology, Pharmacology of Drugs and Abuse, Child and Adolescent Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Psychology of Learning, Measurement and Assessment, Social Psychology, Physiological Psychology, and Senior Paper.

Dr. Nelson’s journey to ORU is no mistake. From an early age, he felt the Lord leading him into the medical field with a desire to bring healing to people, pursuing a double major in Biomedical Chemistry and Psychology. From his first steps on campus in 2006, ORU felt like home. While attending ORU, his experiences, the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and the mentoring by faculty shaped his path forward. Going on missions trips all four years (Puerto Rico, Tanzania, and twice to Zambia) and leading three of those teams, Dr. Nelson’s heart for the nations grew stronger, especially for the missionaries with whom he worked. Additionally, being an RA and Head RA, he began to understand the importance of listening to and mentoring those around him. From these experiences, Dr. Nelson’s educational journey led him and his wife (a 2010 ORU alumna) to move to his home state of California to pursue a Master’s and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.

In the classroom, Dr. Nelson enjoys applying his knowledge of his clinical work to the various psychological theories discussed as he integrates his faith and psychology. He hopes that students will see the need for mental health workers as an avenue to bring God’s healing and peace to His people.

Dr. Nelson’s research focuses in two separate areas that he is passionate about: member (missionary) care and expatriate cross-cultural adjustment/stress as well as whole person research with a focus on chronobiology, academic performance, health fitness, spirituality, well-being, and stress among college students. He works closely with other faculty at ORU and mentors students in research each year. He and his research team have published five separate articles in the last three years in a variety of peer-reviewed journals. Recently, Dr. Nelson presented his research, “Placing and Supporting Missionaries” at the annual Mental Health and Missions Conference in Indiana. Through his research with missionaries, Dr. Nelson seeks to understand how individual differences affect one’s ability to cope with stressors when living internationally.

In understanding his own cross-cultural challenges during brief international mission trips, Dr. Nelson recalls an excerpt from an essay he wrote about a Zambian woman he met while on missions: “This woman’s simple request to invite me on her journey and share her burden [of carrying her water bucket on my head] continues to impact my life. I journeyed with her [from the water pump to her village] and didn’t turn back early because that is where she needed to go, despite the sharp pain in my neck. More importantly, however, her journey was where I needed to go.” Dr. Nelson hopes that he can journey together with other students and faculty, like he journeyed with this Zambian woman, to places that help him to understand the unique journey every person is on. In that journey, Dr. Nelson’s desire is that each of his students become Spirit-empowered world changers who can live out God’s commission that was given to Oral Roberts.

Dr. Nelson married his college sweetheart, Rebekah, in 2011, and they currently have three kids with one more on the way. In his spare time, Dr. Nelson loves playing with his kids, traveling, working on various house projects, and, despite being a tea-drinker, helping his wife find the best coffee in America (he has traveled to 40 states since he married his wife and can tell you the top coffee spots for about 30 of those 40 states).

Dr. Nelson earned his B.S. in Biomedical Chemistry with a double major in Psychology from Oral Roberts University, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Biola University, Rosemead School of Psychology.

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