Dorothy Shelden Boswell

Date of Birth

May 30, 1944

Date of Death

February 18, 2008

City of Death

Santa Barbara

Dorothy Boswell, 63, a well-known psychotherapist and teacher and treasured friend to many, died February 18, 2008, after a noble struggle with a neurological disease. Throughout her illness and during the final moments of her life, Dorothy was surrounded by her family and dearest friends.

She was born in Lafayette, Louisiana to Harold and Dorothy Shelden and spent most of her childhood on a ranch in South Dakota that her grandparents homesteaded.

She graduated from the University of Wyoming and began an illustrious teaching career, first teaching English at an inner-city public high school in Houston, and then moving to the Magnet program’s School of Communications, where she taught classes in scriptwriting, filmmaking and photography.

In Telluride, Colorado, with another outstanding educator, Dr. Margaret Hatcher, Dorothy developed an innovative, inter-disciplinary alternative education program called Quest, based on Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Quest. Joined by Charlotte McGuire, RN, the three would go on to establish the Southwest Institute for Women, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating experiential adventures for women.

In the mid-80’s, Dorothy moved to California and, as a student in one of the first classes of Pacifica Graduate Institute’s Psychology programs, Dorothy earned a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in Depth Psychology. She completed her internship at the Community Counseling and Education Center, and became an integral part of the organization, returning in the 90’s as Core Clinical Staff where she worked until May 2007. At the CCEC, she supervised and trained interns who appreciated her profound knowledge and gentle wisdom.

In addition to her robust private practice as a Marriage and Family Therapist, Dorothy worked as a counselor within the AIDS community and facilitated workshops for Hospice volunteers. She made professional presentations throughout the state focusing on writing, astrology, single parenthood, mid-life transitions, the mother/daughter relationship, and the expressive arts.

In 1993, Dorothy became a Thesis Advisor at Pacifica and joined the faculty in 1999, where she taught courses in Process of Psychotherapy, Clinical Practice, and training seminars in AIDS and Death and Dying. She later became a Research Coordinator and most recently served as the Director of Research for the entire Counseling Psychology program.

There were very few educators more highly regarded and adored by their students than Dorothy Boswell. She was, in every way, a mentor. In guiding students through their research and thesis process, Dorothy’s contributions and those of her students continue to affect the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of people in profound and heartfelt ways.

Along with her abiding interest and superb reputation in counseling and teaching, Dorothy was an avid reader, music lover, noted photographer, astrologer, and inspired organizer of women’s groups wherever she resided. As a testament to Dorothy’s talent as a writer, she was invited to attend the prestigious Hedgebrook Retreat, a women’s writing residence on Whidby Island in Puget Sound.

Dorothy touched all who knew her with a rare capacity to meet others in places no one else could reach. Her depth of understanding, coupled with her intellectual breadth and wise wit, inspired everyone she encountered. She has left her indelible soulfulness as her legacy and will live on through the love and memory of all her clients, Pacifica colleagues, students, and loved ones. Dorothy has always existed beyond this time and limit of human knowing and will remain a fixed and glorious constellation in all our lives.

Dorothy is survived by her life partner, Kathryn Brown, along with Dorothy’s beloved daughter and light of her life, Maury, her son-in-law, Eric, and her ebullient grandson, Bo. She will be sorely missed by Kathryn’s family, including her children, Gretchen and Josh, granddaughter Olivia, and siblings, Robert, Tom, Peter and Jessica. Dorothy is also survived by her brother, Jay Shelden and his family.

Other extended family includes cherished Santa Barbara friends, “The Mermaids,” who will love her madly forever, and her dearest heart family in Arizona, including Don, her former husband, Margaret, Peggy, and Martha. And last, but not least, Dorothy will be missed by her faithful and loving dog, Sappho.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests any tributes be made in the form of donations to Community Counseling and Education Center at 923 Olive Street, Suite 1, Santa Barbara, CA, 93101. 805-962-3363.

A memorial for Dorothy will be held on Saturday, March 22nd at 2:00pm at the Barrett Center, Pacifica Graduate Institute, Ladera Campus, 801 Ladera Lane, Santa Barbara, CA 93108.


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