Clara  Gerhardt
Distinguished Beeson Professor
Orlean Beeson School of Education
Human Development and Family Science
127 Orlean Bullard Beeson Hall

Dr. Clara Gerhardt is a licensed clinical psychologist and a licensed marriage and family therapist. Her latest textbook Families in Motion concerns family dynamics in diverse settings, (SAGE: 2020). This book was selected for inclusion in SAGE Knowledge, a high-quality digital platform for international library access. Parent-Child Relations is in its 10th edition (Pearson: 2019). She has contributed entries for Marriage and Divorce in America (2022) and the Encyclopedia of Family Studies (Wiley Blackwell: 2016). Other publications include earlier books, several book chapters, over 140 articles in the popular press, and a regular column for the National Council on Family Relations. She has presented at over 150 invited and peer-reviewed conferences and workshops on six continents.

Additional areas of expertise are psychological aspects of teaching/learning relationships, encompassing creativity, group dynamics, active and real-life educational strategies. She has published on Problem Based Learning (PBL) and presented numerous training workshops on these topics, including in Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, and South Africa.

In leadership roles she served as department chair and two terms as chair of the State Board of Examiners in Psychology. For this service to the people of Alabama she twice received The Governor of the State of Alabama Certificate of Appreciation. Dr. Gerhardt is the product of three continents, speaks five languages fluently, and has traveled extensively.

Degrees and Certifications

  • Ph.D. Psychology, University of Pretoria, South Africa
  • M.B.A. Business Administration, Samford University
  • D.T.E. Graduate Diploma of Tertiary Education: University of South Africa (UNISA)
  • M.A. Clinical Psychology, University of Pretoria
  • B.A. Triple Major: Psychology, French and German (Cum Laude), University of Pretoria
  • Licensed Psychologist (Clinical)
  • Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
  • Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE)

Awards and Honors

  • National Council on Family Relations, Certified Family Life Educator National Award, 2013
  • The Governor of the State of Alabama: Certificate of appreciation for valuable service to the people of Alabama, recognized leadership, dedication, and professionalism, 2013 and 2008
  • Alabama Board of Examiners in Psychology: Recognition for Outstanding Service, 2013 and 2009
  • Orlean Beeson School of Education & Professional Studies: Outstanding Scholarship Award, 2012
  • Alabama Germany Partnership: Significant Educational and Cultural Contributions Award, 2007
  • Birmingham Urban League: Promoting Multicultural Understanding Award, 2005

Most Recent Publications

  • Gerhardt, Clara. 2020. Families in motion: Dynamics in diverse contexts. Thousand Oaks: SAGE.
  • Entries for the Encyclopedia of Marriage and Divorce. 2022. In press. Topics include: Marriage and immigration, International marriages, Marriage and diversity, Parenting programs.
  • Bigner, J. & Gerhardt, Clara. 2019. Parent-Child relations: an introduction to parenting. 10th ed. Pearson.  USA and international editions, plus support material. 
  • Gerhardt, Clara. 2018. South Africa:  Family life as the mirror of a society. In: Robila, Mihaela & Taylor, Alan (Eds.) Global Perspectives of Family Life Education. Springer. 
  • Entries for the Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Family Studies. 2016. Topics include: Only children, Family of procreation, Globalization and families, The family circumplex model and Intergenerational relationships. Wiley/Blackwell.
  • Contributing editor of Network: CFLE in Context, a publication by the National Council on Family Relations (2011 to present). Writes and edits a regular column: Perspectives. NCFR.


  • Presentations at over 150 invited and peer-reviewed conferences and workshops nationally and internationally.


  • Delta Phi Alpha
  • Phi Kappa Phi
  • Kappa Omicron Nu