Teal Maedel, M.A. ’97, applies Alfred Adler’s teachings and Adler University’s social justice mission to her work in criminal justice. She received the 2019 Vancouver Campus Distinguished Alumni Award in April for her work to empower marginalized communities throughout her career.
Before attending Adler University, Maedel received degrees in criminology and psychology. She also was a case manager and a parole officer, helping federal offenders safely transition back to the community.
Maedel, an alumna of the Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology program, said this work centers on “separating the doer and the deed. This means staying optimistic and believing that change is possible.”
After graduating from Adler University, Maedel joined Vancouver Community Corrections, where she taught parole officers Adlerian strategies and trained police agencies on motivational interviewing, high-risk offenders, sexual deviancy, psychopathy, and mental health. She has also been a parole officer, community development officer, and victim liaison officer for the Correctional Service of Canada. In those capacities, she developed community programs and has authored numerous risk assessments for the National Parole Board.
Maedel said Adlerian psychology tenets she learned at Adler University were particularly impactful when working with men and women exiting the prison system.
“It helped with understanding the purpose of someone’s behavior—that they’re striving for a sense of belonging,” Maedel said.
Reducing recidivism, she said, is a matter of directing that striving toward social interest and not toward finding superiority over others. Part of that process is to help people develop insight into their own behaviors and personalities.
“The whole idea of building rapport when working with people that is so important in the counselling field, is also very important in the policing field,” Maedel said. She added that in many cases, “nobody had ever actually spent the time with criminal offenders to figure out how they formulated their private logic about what path they were going on, and how it might be getting in their way of having a productive and socially interested life.”
While working at Vancouver Community Corrections, Maedel wanted to help Adler University students gain more experience in the corrections field, so she developed new neuropsychology and art therapy internships, and Social Justice Practicum opportunities for students.
Maedel has served the Adlerian community at large as the former president of the North American Society for Adlerian Psychology. She has also been an adjunct faculty member at Adler University in Vancouver, where she currently teaches Advanced Adlerian Psychology and Introduction to Adlerian Psychology classes.
“The different cultures and life experiences that students are bringing to the school is amazing,” Maedel said.
Maedel is a criminal investigative psychologist in the behavioral analysis unit at Canada’s policing agency, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). As one of two criminal investigative psychologists with the RCMP across Canada, Maedel is involved as a consultant to Serious Crime Sections and conducts psychological-risk and threat assessments on suspects to help police know how to best handle a situation.
Maedel has also worked extensively with incarcerated First Nations peoples, combining traditional counselling with support provided by local community Elders to help address the intergenerational trauma impacting the First Nations communities.
“I think that we’ve all got to do our part in terms of providing community support, being socially interested, and walking our talk,” Maedel said of advancing the call to empower communities and create change.