Joseph Breitenstein

I am a professor of psychology and licensed clinical psychologist.  I teach related courses (Abnormal Psychology, Introduction to Counseling, and Psychology Internship) and have conducted well over 5,000 psychological evaluations involving child abuse/neglect, veterans’ issues, and psychiatric disabilities, often in forensic settings.  My students frequently observe an evaluation as part of taking one of my clinical courses.  I also have strong interests in the environment and politics and recently developed a new course for Luther called Environmental and Political Psychology.

Most of my interaction with students outside of the classroom involves assisting them in gaining entrance to graduate programs in various helping professions.  In 2019-2020 I wrote letters of recommendations supporting successful admission for 15 students to the following programs: Counseling, Master’s in Social Work, Occupational Therapy, Physician Assistant, School Psychology, and Speech Pathology.

General Professional Philosophy

Whether I only have contact with a student in General Psychology or work closely with him or her for four years, I want all of my students to appreciate psychology as a practical science that promotes self-awareness and good citizenship by aiding the disadvantaged.

Recent Professional Activity

I represent the practitioner aspects of the scientist-practitioner model in our department.  Therefore, most of my professional work is practical in nature, but I dabble in related research with students, mostly with senior projects related to clinical topics of interest to them and that are often presented at regional conferences.  My interest in the environment, specifically naturalists with ties to my native Wisconsin, led to me co-editing with Richard Thiel the childhood memoirs of Wallace Byron Grange.  This book is entitled, As the Twig is Bent: A Memoir and will be published by University of Wisconsin Press in August 2020.

“Original and refreshing, reminiscent of the poignant writings of Increase Lapham, Fran Hamerstrom, and John Muir. Grange does a superb job of portraying societal life a century ago in Illinois, and the pioneering life of the Grange family in the ‘cutover country’ in northern Wisconsin.”—Sumner Matteson, author of Afield: Portraits of Wisconsin Naturalists, Empowering Leopold’s Legacy

“An engaging memoir of the making of a devoted conservationist, evocative of the unhurried pace of a bygone era. Grange shares with us a voluminous, detailed treasure trove of experiences that reveal the making of a man who dedicated his life to the cause of conservation.”—Arthur Pearson, author of Force of Nature


I love silent sports like hiking, snowshoeing, cycling, canoeing, and swimming, alone or with family and friends.   I also enjoy going to concerts and reading.  Below is a sample of this summer’s leisure reading.

Afield:  Portraits of Wisconsin Naturalists, Empowering Leopold’s Legacy by Sumner Matteson

Braiding Sweetgrass:  Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

Principles and Precepts of the Return to the Obvious by Lanza Del Vasto