WPA Virtual Summer CE Workshop

August 07, 2020
1:00 PM - 4:00 PM
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ZOOM Meeting


What can Batman teach us about our clients?  How can the Black Panther inform decisions we make in the therapy room?  Can popular culture teach us anything about relationships? SPOILER ALERT:  Of course, it can!

Relationships rely on the development of trust.  The emergence of that trust is a story, a narrative.  Narratives about difficulties with relationships and trust run rampant in the world of popular culture. Those we call “superheroes” often end-up in relationships fueled, constrained, and contextualized by trauma and guilt. Spiderman, Jessica Jones, and Daredevil all find their identities, either masked or unmasked, driven by survivor guilt. Black Panther’s narrative tells a story of minority psychological development. The Punisher’s post-traumatic stress disorder leads him to become a ruthless vigilante. In addition, group narratives, such as The Walking Dead and The X-Men, address the interaction of multiple individual narratives, as well as trust/mistrust dynamics that play out both for the individual and the group.

Addressing these relational dynamics from the worlds of fiction and popular culture can allow our clients to confront similar issues without the type of first-person engagement (the “I” narrative) that might generate avoidance versus approach responses.  By utilizing popular narratives, clinicians can work to enhance empirically supported relationship variables, such as empathy, goal consensus and collaboration, as well as support a strong therapeutic alliance.

As such, these narratives not only influence clients’ experiencing of emotions, but may also provide more impactful psychotherapy. 


Vanessa Hintz, Psy.D.

Dr. Hintz is a licensed clinical psychologist, who received her doctorate in clinical psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She works with children, adolescents, and adults with a wide array of presenting issues. She has extensive training in working with individuals who have been exposed to traumatic experiences, those with co-occurring substance use issues, as well as those struggling with emotional regulation. 

Dr. Hintz works actively to achieve understanding of each person's unique circumstances, all while ensuring one's individual values and beliefs are respected within the therapeutic relationship. She believes the ultimate goal of therapy is to empower individuals to confront problematic circumstances in their lives, and to work collaboratively toward furthering health and wellness. 

Dr. Hintz is an active proponent of multicultural counseling and theory, and works dynamically to understand how individuals make meaning of the world within their various cultural contexts. Dr. Hintz is also a self-proclaimed "Geek Therapist," and incorporates elements of popular culture into treatment and training, when beneficial.  Dr. Hintz has been a contributing author to two different books in the Popular Culture Psychology Series, to include, Black Panther Psychology: Hidden Kingdoms and The Joker Psychology: Evil Clowns and the Women Who Love Them.

In addition to working as an Assistant Professor of Community Psychology at Alverno College, Dr. Hintz maintains a private practice at Cornerstone Counseling Services in Milwaukee.

J. Scott Jordan, Ph.D.

J. Scott Jordan, Ph.D., is a cognitive psychologist who studies the neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy of cooperative behavior. He has published four edited books, six special issues of peer-reviewed journals, and over 100 journal articles, book chapters, and encyclopedia entries. 

He regularly contributes to Sperling’s Popular Culture Psychology series and other outlets to reveal connections between pop-culture narratives, psychology, and the realities of lived life. Examples include, Exploring the hidden kingdoms of assumption: Interview with Christopher Priest on Black Panther, culture, and the art of changing minds (Black Panther Psychology), Whose mind is it, anyway? Defending conscious will in a Purple Man’s world (Daredevil Psychology), and  The welcoming Spiderverse: Finding your ‘self’ in a web of others (Pop Mythology).   

He has published a peer-reviewed, scientific song about the ‘self’ (It’s hard work being No One), which received a positive review in Discover Magazine. He is a co-member of the WGLT Psych Geeks podcast and has appeared on the bodyselfmind podcast and the Nerd Brew Channel on Youtube. He also produces a Youtube channel called Dark Loops Productions. Finally, he is extremely proud of his international comic book collection.

Eric Wesselmann, Ph.D.

Eric Wesselmann, PhD, is a psychologist at Illinois State University. Eric studies various topics, including social belonging, fandom, media psychology (e.g., comics and film), and the psychology of the horror genre. He has published over 40 peer-reviewed journal articles and serves on the editorial boards for Group DynamicsJournal of Social Psychology, and Small Groups Research. Eric is a fellow of Midwestern Psychological Association and the Society for Experimental Social Psychologists.

Eric has contributed chapters to eight published books on psychology and popular culture (e.g., Black Panther Psychology, Daredevil Psychology, Joker Psychology, Supernatural Psychology, Wonder Woman Psychology). Eric is also a co-member of WGLT Psych Geeks podcast series, where he has discussed issues such as the psychology of nostalgia, fandom, “bad movies,” and the horror genre. He also co-curates a film series and blog for The Normal Theater (Normal, IL) called “Film CULTure,” which focuses on psychological dynamics of cult, horror, and genre films.

Eric loves discussing the interface between psychology and popular culture. He has taught college-level courses on the psychological aspects of comics (BatmanX-Men), film, and media censorship. Eric has participated in panels at various popular culture conventions, including Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, San Diego Comic Con, and Wizard World.



$90.00 Member Ticket

$120.00 Non-Member Ticket