The Short Story
The majority of my professional work involves teaching and doing research in the field of positive psychology, which emphasizes the development of human strength and potential. I received my PhD in psychology from the University of Western Ontario, Canada.
I’ve worked in the corporate world and in academia, and I've also spent several years as an entrepreneur. From 2013 to 2015 I was a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard Medical School, where I studied the effects of yoga in school settings.
I currently live in Prague, where I'm teaching an undergraduate positive psychology course at the University of New York in Prague and continuing to study yoga and mindfulness for youth.
The Long Story
Most “About” pages are official, professional bios that list people’s accomplishments and credentials, but I’d rather take a more authentic approach. To be honest, I’m not exactly sure what I’m all about (are any of us?). But here goes.
We could start with the 18 years that I spent as an extremely inquisitive and self-conscious child who grew into an even more inquisitive and self-conscious teenager. Then there were the 10 years that I spent in university earning my Masters in clinical psychology and my PhD in social psychology (you can read about my credentials and publications here). I spent 6 of these 10 years on antidepressants and ended up writing a book about my experience. After graduating I spent 2 years in the corporate world as an IT Research Analyst, but soon realized that the cubicle lifestyle was sucking my soul. So I quit that job and started bethanybutzer.com in 2010. Over the next 3 years I wrote a book, gave personal development workshops, created online courses, wrote blogs, taught yoga, and did a bit of research on the side.
In 2013 an opportunity arose for me to do research on yoga in school settings for Harvard Medical School and the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, so I spent the next 2.5 years as a postdoctoral research fellow. During this time I realized that traditional academia, with its hierarchical structure, competitive nature, and ‘publish or perish’ mentality was not the right environment for me. In fact, I ended up completely burnt out. I also developed serious questions and concerns about the way that research is conducted in the current university system. So I left my position at Harvard and spent 2 months living in a cabin in the woods. After that, I sold almost everything I owned and moved to Prague, where I currently live as a Canadian expat in love with the history and beauty of Europe.
On the surface, it might sound like I’ve quit a lot of jobs as a way to escape when I can’t handle stress. I prefer to see my non-linear career trajectory as reflecting my inability to settle for a life / lifestyle that doesn’t deeply resonate with me. Over the years I’ve come to realize that I value my health and well-being above any job. Part of keeping myself healthy involves living in a way that values my authentic self.
These days I’m what you might call an “independent professor.” I don’t work full-time at a university, but I do research as a private consultant and I teach an undergraduate positive psychology course at an English-speaking university in Prague. I’ve become very interested in changing what I believe is an outdated model of the ways we “do science” in universities. I haven’t figured out exactly how to do this yet, but you can read some of my opinions about academia here. In a nutshell, I’m interested in bringing a sense of soul back into science by doing research that is not only rigorous, but also feels supportive, collaborative, and inclusive of multiple ways of knowing. At the moment I’m reading a lot about transpersonal psychology and transpersonal research methods, and I’m becoming increasingly interested in studying topics related to the evolution of human consciousness, self-transcendence, and peak experiences / mystical states.
The past 2 years have involved a huge period of transition for me both personally and professionally - a transition that hasn’t fully completed yet (you can read more about my journey here and here). This makes it very difficult for me to answer questions like, “What do you do?” and “What types of products/services do you offer on your website?” Throw in the Czech language barrier and I can pretty much guarantee that no one around me understands what I do for a living (including me).
Life is about more than just work, and I believe that the things I do outside of work are equally (if not more) important than my professional life. I do a lot of different things when I’m not working, like going for walks, reading, gardening, cooking, yoga, meditation, and hanging out with my husband David and my cat Yuki.
One of my favorite things to do is to put in my headphones and dance around my apartment when no one is watching (except for the cat, who sometimes looks fearful of my moves). I have an endless capacity for deep conversations and I’ve been known to put people to sleep with my musings. I enjoy travel as a form of self-growth - I've traveled to over 20 countries (so far) and I’ve lived in 3 different countries over the past few years. I’m a very sensitive person and a semi-introvert - loud noises, scratchy fabrics, and too much social interaction aren’t good for me. Sometimes I feel like I’m more fairy than human - in this world but not quite of it. I wear a fairy ring on my right hand to remind me of my connection with this part of my soul, and I’ve always been obsessed with mystical creatures like unicorns (one of my favorite movies is Legend). I’m probably one of the tiniest adults you’ll ever meet and I (gratefully) look younger than I am. I seem to have a knack for helping people share deep truths about themselves, and my favorite connections are those that involve soulful honesty. I’m happiest when I’m in nature and I’ve never met a dark chocolate that I didn’t like.
At the moment my personal work mirrors what I would like to see more of in academia. I’m doing a lot of inner work around relaxing the logical, analytical side of my mind and tuning into the intuitive, emotional space of my heart and body. My hope is that I’ll eventually be able to combine these masculine and feminine ways of knowing into a more balanced state of being and working in the world.
My intention for this website is to offer you as much authenticity as I can manage to publish online. This isn’t always easy, and it takes a lot of courage. I use my writing to describe inner states and life circumstances that are often difficult for people to articulate. My hope is that by transparently sharing my journey, I will inspire others to present themselves more authentically in the world. I hold a deep belief that embodying our authentic selves at home and at work is key not only for our personal well-being but also for the well-being of the planet.
I do most of my sharing over at my blog, as well as on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I used to send out an e-newsletter, but I’ve put it on hold for now because it was starting to feel forced. You can still sign up to receive updates in case I start sending them again in the future.
My favorite quote is Gandhi’s, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” and I’m doing my best to be the change in my own unique way. I hope that my authenticity helps you be authentic in your own unique way, too. If nothing else, may my journey help you feel less alone in yours.