Margaret Kim Peterson, Ph.D. 1998

Psychotherapist in Independent Practice – Philadelphia, PA

1998 Ph.D., Religion (Theology and Ethics)

How has being a Religion graduate from Duke helped shape you personally and/or professionally?

"I taught systematic and historical theology (and, later on, psychology and practical theology) for twenty years, reaching the rank of tenured full professor. I left teaching to become a psychotherapist. The move from academia into clinical work involved both loss and gain. I come from an academic family and there were things I loved about being an academic theologian, most notably the opportunity to contribute to the theological education and personal development of the thousands of students who passed through my classroom. I deeply miss teaching and the rhythms of the academic year. The theological education I received at Duke continues to ground my development as a psychotherapist; I find it hard to imagine what kind of clinician I would be apart from that formation."

What advice would you give students in Duke's Religion programs? 

"Ask yourself what the plan is. I was successful by certain metrics (I got a tenure-track job, got tenure, got promoted) but found myself trapped at a deeply troubled institution, unable to leave because there were no other jobs to go to. I had to change careers to get out. Now, as my own boss, making two or three times as much money as I ever made as an academic, I wonder that I didn't figure out sooner that academia is no longer a viable career path, at least not if you want to have some control over your life and enough money to live on."

Margaret Kim Peterson, Ph.D. 1998