Jamie D. Aten, Ph.D., is a disaster psychologist and disaster ministry expert. He helps others navigate mass, humanitarian, and personal disasters with scientific and spiritual insights. He is the Founder and Executive Director of the Humanitarian Disaster Institute and Disaster Ministry Conference and holds the Rech Endowed Chair of Psychology at Wheaton College. Learn more about HDI’s new M.A. in Humanitarian and Disaster Leadership at www.wheaton.edu/HDL.
In 2016 he received the FEMA Community Preparedness Champion Award at the White House. He doesn’t just study disasters—he has survived disasters.
Jamie got his start helping others amidst disasters after moving to South Mississippi just six days before Hurricane Katrina struck his community. Eight years later he diagnosed with late-stage cancer. Now in remission Jamie shares his disaster research and cancer story with scientific and spiritual insights, helping others cultivate faith and resilience.
His research has been supported by over $6 million in grant funding. In addition to over 100 scholarly publications, he is the co-editor and co-author of 7 academic books, including two American Psychological Association bestsellers. His disaster and humanitarian resources have been adopted and utilized by World Relief, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Homeland Security, Chicago Department of Public Health, and many other organizations.
Jamie is a disaster columnist for Christianity Today’s (CT) Church Law & Tax. His writing frequently appears in outlets that include The Washington Post, CT, and Psychology Today. Jamie is also regularly cited or interviewed by news outlets like CBS News, Fox News TV, Yahoo! News, Moody Radio, and Religion News Service.
Indiana State University: Ph.D., Counseling Psychology 2005
Chicago Area Christian Training Consortium: Pre-Doctoral Internship, Clinical Psychology 2005
Indiana State University: M.Sc., Counseling Psychology 2001
Indiana State University: B.Sc., Psychology 1999
Areas of Expertise and Research Interests (15)
Accomplishments and Awards (2)
FEMA Community Preparedness Champion Award (professional)
American Psychological Association Div. 36 Early Career Award (professional)
Professional Affiliations (3)
- American Psychological Association : Member
- APA Division 36 (Psychology of Religion) : Member
- Christian Association of Psychological Studies : Member
Media Appearances (3)
Presentations and Event Appearances (5)
Fred Hutch Cancer Center Moving Beyond Cancer Seattle, WA
Wheaton College Chapel Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL
GC2 Summit on Caring for Refugees Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL
Justice Conference Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington, IL
Disaster Ministry Conference Community Christian Church - Naperville Yellow Box Naperville, Illinois
Academics and Published Research (3)
- PSYC 701 Foundations of Integration
- PSYC 731 Spirituality I
- PSYC 761-764 Research Lab
- PSYC 893 Advanced Topics in Clinical Psychology: Disaster Mental Health
He is the Founder and Executive Director of the Humanitarian Disaster Institute, the country’s first faith-based academic disaster research center. He also leads HDI’s Religion/Spirituality and Psychology in Disasters Lab (RAPID Lab).
Most of his research focuses on how people make meaning, relate to God, and grow (spiritually and emotionally) after disasters. He also studies the role of positive psychology in church life amid disasters. More recently, he has begun studying virtues like humility and fortitude in disaster and humanitarian contexts.
His psychology of religion/spirituality and disaster research has been supported by over $6 million in grant funding.
Disaster and humanitarian resources informed by his research have been adopted and utilized by World Relief, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Homeland Security, Chicago Department of Public Health, and many other organizations around the globe.
Dr. Aten founded the Disaster Ministry Conference (DMC) in 2013. The DMC is a national conference that is quickly turning into a global event.
In addition to speaking at the DMC each year, he is a sought after keynote, plenary, and workshop speaker.
He regularly speaks at conferences, churches, and college campuses across the United States and internationally, such as: The GC2 Summit, University of Cambridge, Georgia State University’s Center for the Study of Stress, Trauma, and Resilience, and Accord Network Disaster Summit.
Examples of some upcoming places where you can find Jamie speaking include: Christian Association for Psychological Studies Convention, Fred Hutch Research Cancer Center, and Evangelical Press Association Convention.
You can watch a brief talk of Jamie sharing lessons on cultivating faith and resilience amidst personal disasters.
Select Articles, Chapters, Reviews, and Other Publications (3)
Haynes, W.C., Van Tongeren, D.R., Aten, J., Davis, E. B., Davis, D. E., Hook, J. N., Boan, D., & Johnson, T.
Aten, J., O'Grady, K., Milstein, G., Boan, D. & *Schruba, A.
Aten, J., Benn, P. R., Hill, P.C., Davis, D. E., & Hook, J.