Susan Folkman

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Susan Folkman
Born (1938-03-19) March 19, 1938 (age 81)
New York City, USA
David H. Folkman (m. 1958)
Academic background
EducationB.A., history, 1959, Brandeis University
M.A., counseling psychology, 1974, University of Missouri
PhD., psychology, 1979, University of California, Berkeley
ThesisAnalysis of coping in an adequateley functioning middle-aged population (1979)
Academic work
InstitutionsUniversity of California, Berkeley
University of California, San Francisco
Notable worksStress, appraisal, and coping (1984)

Susan Folkman (née Kleppner; born March 19, 1938) is an American psychologist and Professor of Medicine Emerita. She is known for her work in cognitive psychology on stress and coping. Alongside Richard Lazarus, she introduced the idea of using cognitive appraisal in the transactional model of stress and coping.

Early life and education[edit]

Folkman was born to parents Otto and Beatrice Kleppner.[1] She earned her Bachelor of Arts in history from Brandeis University.[2] After having four children,[2] Folkman decided to continue her education 12 years later and noticed that many women were coping well with the stress of re-entering school to start careers and others floundered.[3] She almost joined the PhD program at Washington University in St. Louis until her husband was offered a position in California and she accepted a placement at the University of California, Berkeley.[4]

While earning her PhD at the University of California, Berkeley, she worked under Richard Lazarus studying stress and coping. In her doctoral thesis, she coined the terms "problem-focused coping" and "emotion-focused coping."[2] Alongside Lazarus, she co-authored a book called "Stress, appraisal, and coping" in 1984, which worked through the theory of psychological stress, using concepts of cognitive appraisal and coping.[5][6] In this book, they were the first to make the distinction between "problem-focused coping" and "emotion-focused coping" which could result in consequences for both physical and mental health.[7] They described "emotion-focused stress" as dealing with stress by regulating ones emotions and "problem-focused coping" as "directly changing the elements of the stressful situation."[8]


Folkman decided to stay and teach at Berkeley where she met Thomas J. Coates who interested her in studying people with HIV/AIDS. He convinced her to join the faculty at the University of California, San Francisco to begin a research program focusing on stress and HIV/AIDS.[3] In 1994, she was appointed Co-Director of the San Francisco's Center for AIDS Prevention Studies (CAPS).[9] Part of her research focused on caregiving between males during the AIDS epidemic.[10] Two years later, she received an honorary doctorate from the Utrecht University for her contributions to stress theory.[11] By 2001, she was appointed the first full-time director of San Francisco's Osher Center for Integrative Medicine (OCIM).[3]

In 2006, Folkman was appointed chair of the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine[12] and the North American Research Conference on Complementary and Integrative Medicine.[13] A few years later, she was elected to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine's Advisory Council.[14] In 2008, Margaret A. Chesney replaced Folkman as director of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine.[15] Upon her retirement in 2013, she was named a professor emerita in San Francisco's Department of Medicine.[9]


  1. ^ "OTTO KLEPPNER". The New York Times. August 5, 1982. Retrieved January 29, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c Alan J. Christensen; Joshua Morrison Smyth; René Martin (January 16, 2014). Encyclopedia of Health Psychology. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 111. ISBN 9780387225579. Retrieved January 29, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c Azar, Beth (January 2002). "An advance for integrative medicine". Retrieved January 29, 2020.
  4. ^ "Susan Folkman" (PDF). p. 42. Retrieved January 29, 2020.
  5. ^ Beck, Gayle J. (1986). "Review of Stress, appraisal, and coping [Review of the book Stress, appraisal, and coping". Health Psychology. 5 (5): 497–500.
  6. ^ Love, John M. (1985). "Review of Stress, appraisal and coping and The coping capacity: On the nature of being mortal". American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. 55 (4): 629–632.
  7. ^ Hyman, Carol (December 4, 2002). "Richard Lazarus, UC Berkeley psychology faculty member and influential researcher, dies at 80". Retrieved January 29, 2020.
  8. ^ Sophie Berjot; Nicolas Gillet (2011). "Stress and Coping with Discrimination and Stigmatization". Frontiers in Psychology. 2 (33). Retrieved January 29, 2020.
  9. ^ a b "Susan Folkman, PhD". Retrieved January 29, 2020.
  10. ^ Browning, Frank (April 29, 2015). "Survival Secrets: What Is It About Women That Makes Them More Resilient Than Men?". Retrieved January 29, 2020.
  11. ^ Psycho Bio Int Hiv Infect. CRC Press. May 1, 2000. ISBN 9789058230379. Retrieved January 29, 2020.
  12. ^ "First global integrative medicine conference in North America". May 8, 2006. Retrieved January 29, 2020.
  13. ^ "North American Research Conference on Complementary and Integrative Medicine" (PDF). 2006. Retrieved January 29, 2020.
  14. ^ "NCCAM's Advisory Council Welcomes Five New Members". February 5, 2010. Retrieved January 29, 2020.
  15. ^ "Chesney Appointed Director of UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine". October 15, 2009. Retrieved January 29, 2020.

External links[edit]