Merl Edwin Bonney (1902 - 2001) | University of North Texas Special Collections

Name: Merl Edwin Bonney (1902 - 2001)

Historical Note: Merl Edwin Bonney (1902-2001) served on the UNT faculty as a psychology professor from 1935 until 1979.  Bonney received his bachelor’s degree from Willamette University, his master’s degree from Stanford University and his Ph.D. from Columbia University.  When he was hired, Merl Bonney was the only faculty member teaching psychology.  He was instrumental in building the department and establishing courses in child psychology and statistics and abnormal psychology.  He created a master’s program in 1948.  He was among the first researchers to hypothesize that children play not just to imitate adults but to express their feelings.  In the 1970s, such theories led to the creation of play therapy, in which children use play to express their feelings about traumatic experiences. Bonney published five psychology books and more than 60 journal articles.  He served as president of the Texas Psychological Association in 1951-1952 and was also a member of the American Psychological Association, the Southwestern Psychological Association and the Society of Psychological Study of Social Issues.  An endowed lectureship in psychology was established in his name in 1986. It was elevated to a visiting professorship in 1995.  [Source: North Texan, Fall 2001]

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