Member since: 1992
Occupation: Professor in rehabilitation counseling psychology in the department of educational and counseling psychology and special education at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
Forced to escape: Schultz was born and raised in Czestochowa, Poland. In 1982, she and her husband, Thaddeus Pruss, a physicist, and their 6-year-old son, Alexander, fled Warsaw during the Solidarity movement. The government was imposing curfews, imprisoning activists and patrolling the streets with tanks. After police arrested several of Schultz’s colleagues and had her husband followed, the couple applied for passports to move to Canada where Thaddeus had been offered a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Guelph in Ontario before the turmoil began. At first, the government refused to grant them leave, but eventually issued them passports. “The prisons and internment camps were so full that the regime was allowing some dissidents to leave the country,” says Schultz. The family left most of its belongings, taking only three suitcases filled with books, clothes and mementos.
Homing in on disabilities: Schultz grew up with two family members with disabilities. “I watched them struggle against multiple visible and nonvisible barriers,” she says. “Yet they persevered, becoming powerful role models for me.”
Their perseverance also inspired her career path: working with people with disabilities. Before she left Poland, Schultz earned a doctorate in clinical psychology and neuropsychology at the University of Warsaw. She now directs UBC’s vocational rehabilitation counseling master’s program, which teaches students to work with people with both visible and nonvisible disabilities, such as chronic pain and traumatic brain injury.
“There is a tremendous need for professionals who can combine research, science and practice to help some of the most vulnerable people in our communities,” she says. To attract students who have disabilities themselves, Schultz instituted a hybrid curriculum; students take most courses online and do their supervised clinical training in person.
An accommodation advocate: Schultz promotes national and international improvements in education, employment and mental health services for people with disabilities, a group she considers “a forgotten and long-stigmatized minority.” She co-chairs the APA Task Force on Guidelines for Assessment and Intervention with Persons Who Have Disabilities, which has developed psychology’s first practice guidelines in the area. Schultz is also co-editing “Health, Work and Disability” (Springer), a book series that outlines new research on disabilities in the workplace.
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