Tracy Steen is a licensed clinical psychologist. In 1998 she graduated summa cum laude from Furman University with a B.S. in Psychology. She obtained a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Michigan in 2003, where she was mentored by Chris Peterson.
While at Michigan she was drawn to the emerging field of positive psychology—the scientific study of positive emotions, character traits, and institutions. Rather than focusing exclusively on treating psychopathology and disease, a positive psychology approach aims to optimize psychological health. This approach helps people flourish.
Dr. Steen moved to Philadelphia in 2003 to complete a postdoctoral fellowship in positive psychology at the University of Pennsylvania with Martin Seligman. During Dr. Steen's postdoctoral fellowship, she was nominated to serve on the Annenberg Mental Health Commission for Positive Youth Development. As a commission member she developed practical recommendations for how to encourage the development of strengths such as creativity, kindness, courage, integrity, social intelligence, and perseverance.
Dr. Steen also worked with Dr. Seligman to develop and test a series of interventions designed to help people increase the amount of joy, engagement, and meaning in their lives. In addition, Dr. Steen created the landmark Steen Happiness Index, a measure which captures the week-by-week upward changes in happiness that might occur following happiness interventions. The Steen Happiness Index has been translated into multiple languages.
In 2005 Dr. Steen founded the Charles O'Brien Center for Addiction Treatment at the University of Pennsylvania. She served as its Clinical Director and then Director until 2013. Dr. Steen taught undergraduate psychology majors at the University of Pennsylvania as well as students of the University of Pennsylvania Medical School. She has been a member of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Drug, Device and Cosmetic Board since 2007. From 2005 to 2012 she was the editor of the All-But-Dissertation Survival Guide, a monthly newsletter designed to help academic writers find flow in the process of completing their dissertations. Dr. Steen assisted with the research trials for the newly published update to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association.
Along with Tom Lincoln, Dr. Steen received a Social Media Leadership Award in 2012 from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business. Knowledge@Wharton and Social Strategy1 recognized the art project Monument as an example of how to use social media to promote a more unified world.
Dr. Steen has a private clinical psychology practice in the Rittenhouse Square area of Philadelphia.
Publications and Presentations:
Steen, T. (2012). Low Tech Lie Detection. Presentation for Forensic Psychiatry Seminar, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Steen, T. (2011). What to Do About a Bad Review. Presentation for Forensic Psychiatry Seminar, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Steen, T. & Dackis, C. (2008). Treatment of cocaine dependence. In H. Smith and S. Passik (Eds.), Pain and Chemical Dependency. New York: Oxford University Press.
Steen, T. (July 2006). Positive psychology and addiction treatment. Paper presented at the 68th Annual Meeting of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence, Scottsdale, Arizona.
Seligman, M.E.P, Steen, T.A., Park, N., & Peterson, C.P. (2005). Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist 60 (10), 410-421.
Duckworth, A., Steen, T.A., & Seligman, M.E.P. (2005). Positive psychology in clinical practice. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology 1, pp. 629-651.
Seligman, M. E. P., Berkowitz, M. W., Catalano, R. F., Damon, W., Eccles, J. S., Gilham, J. E., Moore, K. A., Nicholson, H. J., Park, N., Penn, D. L., Peterson, C., Shih, M., Steen, T. A., Sternberg, R. J., Tierney, J. P., Weissberg, R. P., & Zaff, J. F. (2005). The positive perspective on youth development. In D. L. Evans, E. Foa, R. Gur, H. Hendrin, C. O'Brien, M. E. P. Seligman, & B. T. Walsh (Eds), Treating and preventing adolescent mental health disorders: What we know and what we don’t know (pp. 499-529). New York: Oxford University Press, The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands, and The Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.
Steen, T. A. and Worline, M. (2004). Courage. In M.E.P. Seligman & C. Peterson (Eds.), Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification (213-228). Jointly published by Oxford University Press and the American Psychological Association.
Steen, T. A., Kachorek, V.K., and Peterson, C. (2003). Young adults’ perceptions of human character strengths. Journal of Youth and Adolescence 32(1), pp. 5-16.
Steen, T. A. (2002, October). Sex and virtue: The desirability of character strengths. Poster presented at The First International Positive Psychology Summit, Washington, DC.
Steen, T. A. (2002, February). The role of courage in cultivating a diverse, creative, and strong campus community. Paper presented at the 2002 Big Ten Counseling Centers Conference, Iowa City, Iowa.
Kachorek, V.K. and Steen, T. A. (2001, October). Developing human strengths and virtues among young people. Poster presented at the 2001 Positive Psychology Summit, Washington, DC.
Peterson, C. and Steen, T. A. (2002). Optimistic Explanatory Style. In C.R. Snyder & S. J. Lopez (Eds.), Handbook of Positive Psychology (244-256). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Steen, T. A., and Peterson, C. (2000, August). Predicting young adults’ return to the nest. Poster presented at the 108th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, Washington, DC.
Steen, T. A., Lucas, J. A., Finton, M. F., Smith, G. E., Bohac, D. L., & Ivnik, R. J. (1998, February). Use of verbal fluency cutoff scores in the detection of probable Alzheimer’s disease: Age-related effects. Poster presented at the 9th Annual Meeting of the American Neuropsychiatric Association, Honolulu, Hawaii.
Steen, T. A. (1997, April). Prospective memory abilities of Parkinson’s disease patients. Paper presented at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research, Austin, Texas.