Dr. Caroline Paltin

College of Letters and Sciences

Contact Details

College of Letters and Sciences
(714) 429-5133

Dr. Caroline Paltin earned her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology in 1991 from United States International University and completed her postdoctoral internship training in private practice and at Child Guidance Center, where she treated severely abused and traumatized individuals and children with autism and severe emotional and cognitive impairments. She conducted her dissertation research in the area of trauma and dissociative disorders, for which she received an award of Academic Excellence in Research. Dr. Paltin has worked in private practice as a clinical psychologist since 1992, practicing for six years in Hawai’i in both Kona and Hilo districts. There, she founded and established the successful Art of Healing exhibit, a showcasing of visual and literary art created by survivors of abuse from each of the islands. Upon returning to California, Dr. Paltin established her psychology practice specializing in Gestalt and Existential therapy, utilizing art, music, and sand tray modalities as well as traditional psychotherapy with a diverse population, including victims of catastrophic and traumatic life events. She has served as consultant to many agencies in the implementation of traumatic recovery treatment. Combining her theatre arts background with therapy, in 2009 she founded the Spectrum Therapeutic Theatre, a socialization program for children and adolescents with autism and Asperger’s which utilizes a theatrical milieu to develop and enhance social and communication skills. Dr. Paltin is also past chair of the Saddleback Valley Unified School District’s (SVUSD) PTA Council Special Education Committee, which she created to provide Ability Awareness days to increase tolerance of individuals with special needs at 12 SVUSD school campuses.

Dr. Paltin has been a Gestalt practitioner for over two decades, and has collaborated in recent years with renowned Gestalt master therapist, Dr. Erving Polster, director of the Gestalt Therapy Institute of La Jolla. Together with Dr. Polster, Dr. Paltin founded the Mindful Life Focus Community, based on Polster’s model of creative art infused groups which meet regularly to explore an enhanced experience of the lived life. Dr. Paltin has co-led workshops with Dr. Polster at major conferences, most notably The Psychotherapy Networker, in which both she and Dr. Polster were featured all-day presenters on their work with Life Focus Communities.  She currently operates a private practice in psychology in Orange California, where she also supervises psychology interns and runs ongoing case consultation process groups.

Dr. Paltin has created and directed a successful Distinguished Speaker Series funded by the National University College of Letters and Sciences (COLS). Now in its second year, the s e r i e s offers students, faculty, and the public an opportunity to work up-close with master therapists such as Daniel Sonkin, Erving Polster, and celebrated textbook authors and educators Gerald Corey and Cyndi Corey.

Dr. Paltin has been teaching as an adjunct in higher education for over 20 years, and began her teaching at NU as an adjunct in 1998. She has taught nearly every psychology course offered by the University over the course of her career, and currently serves as regional lead psychology faculty in Costa Mesa, where she teaches Clinical Psychotherapy, Group Therapy, Ethics, and Practicum courses. Dr. Paltin finds one-to-one support of students in their academic journey to be a very fulfilling part of her work.

Dr. Paltin’s research interests include application of Gestalt and expressive therapies to the treatment of trauma in individuals with complex trauma history, and transformation of traumatic life experiences, as well as supervision process with therapists with history of trauma, and phenomenological approaches to biographical narratives in research of creative process.

Current research projects funded through COLS include applications of blues, classical, and indigenous Hawaiian music with individuals with complex trauma in Life Focus Communities. This project allows for undergraduate students to gain experience alongside faculty as research assistants, and past studies have culminated in featured presentation at various conferences and agencies throughout North America, including the 20th, International Summit on Violence Abuse and Trauma.

Dr. Paltin is developing a course for the COLS First Year Seminar Series entitled “Encountering the Creative Self,” which she will be teaching in its first cycle in spring of 2015.

Dr. Paltin is also currently working on a book on the subject of transformative process, creativity, and trauma.