<iframe src="//www.googletagmanager.com/ns.html?id=GTM-NP2ZK8" height="0" width="0" style="display:none;visibility:hidden"></iframe> Deb Piranian

Deb Piranian

piranian@naropa.edu | 303-245-4838

Associate Professor, Transpersonal Wilderness Therapy Concentration Coordinator
Core Faculty


MA Clinical Mental Health Counseling: Transpersonal Wilderness Therapy - Core Faculty


PhD, University of Washington
MA, Naropa University
BA, University of Michigan

Deb is a professor and the Wilderness Therapy Concentration Coordinator in the Transpersonal Counseling Psychology Program since 2002.  Her experience as a counselor includes private practice with adults, a psych hospital and wilderness therapy settings.  Her work in wilderness therapy focused on adults dealing with addictions and / or survivors of sexual and domestic violence.  She also has experience in leadership and team development both with for-profit and non-profit organizations and with multinational young-adult groups.  Her teaching and research interests include the intersections of culture, race, and relationships with the more-than human natural world and how these intersections inform counseling in outdoor settings.  She is also interested in the interplay between contemplative practice, the body, and being in nature.

From the heart

Teaching at Naropa is gratifying because students are often some combination of curious, playful, thoughtful, and eager to grow.  I have learned so much from and been inspired by co-workers, both staff and faculty; my life is enriched by being part of Naropa. 

Recent talks

  • Keynote Speaker, Wilderness Therapy Symposium, 2013
  • Panelist, The Invisible Psychological & Spiritual Impacts of Racism, Interface, 2015

Research summary

How the intersection of culture, history, social structures, and identity shape our relationships with the natural world, with specific focus on race / ethnicity.

Contemplative practice and the natural world.

Courses taught

  • Wilderness Therapy Intensive: Introduction to Wilderness Therapy
  • Helping Relationships I and II
  • Ecopsychology: Transpersonal Persepctives
  • Contemplative Perspectives and Practice
  • Professional Orientation and Ethics I and II

What book do you find yourself regularly pressing into the hands of students?

The Colors of Nature: Culture, Identity, and the Natural World edited by Alison Hawthorne Deming and Lauret E. Savoy (2011)

Have you ever helped a student reach an “ah ha” or transformational moment?

After a conversation in my office with a student about her inner self-critic, I simply reflected back to her the self-criticism implied in the statement she made as she walked out the door.  She had an "ah ha" about just how hard she was on herself.  It was an important step in increasing her self-compassion.  By the next time I saw her, her demeanor had changed and her self-compassion was evident.

What's next?

Excellent question.