Francis J Kaklauskas

Assistant Professor
Core Faculty


MA Clinical Mental Health Counseling: Mindfulness-Based Transpersonal Counseling - Core Faculty



Francis Kaklauskas first experienced Naropa through the Summer Writing program in 1985 and returned to graduated from the Master of Arts in Contemplative Psychotherapy program in 1992. Since that time, he has provided psychotherapy and other psychological services.  He regularly presents at national conferences on topics including the integration of group psychotherapy theory and research, human development, family dynamics, and cross cultural psychology.  He is a Fellow and Board Member of the American Group Psychotherapy, as well as serving on a variety of national tasks forces and committees focusing of the topics of research and diversity.   He lectured by invitation at The Psychology of Religion Conference in Beijing, and presented his cross-cultural teaching experiences in Asia at the American Psychological Associations national conference. Dr. Kaklauskas’ other publications include being the primary psychological consultant and on-screen presenter for the best selling three part video series, Hooked: The Addiction Trap, and co-authoring the Group Psychotherapy chapter in The Handbook of Clinical Psychology. He has also co-edited two critically acclaimed psychotherapy textbooks, Brilliant Sanity: Buddhist Approaches to Psychotherapy andExistential Psychology East-West. In addition, he co-facilitates the Group Training Program at the University of Colorado, Boulder, Wardenberg Psychological Health and Psychiatry with his wife Dr. Elizabeth Olson.

From the heart

Naropa is a unlike any other university or learning environment by engaging the whole person—mind, body, heart, and spirit. The environment provides a hightened awareness that allows for deep intimate connectedness and also deep self reflection. Here we learn to listen to ourselves and each other with precision.

Your education

My heart of education comes from a lifetime of work with others from my father's tile business as a child to twenty-five years in various clincial settings throughout my adult life.  I have an undergraduate degree in English, a master's degree is in Contemplative Psychotherapy, and a doctorate in Clinicial Psychology. Other important educational pursuits include particpation in varied mindfulness practices, twenty-five years of psychoanalytic training, and continuous clincial supervision. 


  • Fellow - Lifetime Contribution Award - American Group Psychotherapy Association
  • Serving on the Science to Pratice Task Froce for Group Psychotherapy.
  • Elected Board Member of the AGPA
  • Being hired by Naropa Unviersity 

Recent publications

  • Articles
    Evidenced Based Group Psychotherapy (2015)
    Expanding Empathy in our Clinical Work (2015)
  • Chapters
    Boundreis in Group Psychotherapy (2014)
    Process Groups (2015)
  • Audio Talk
    Mapping Theory to Technique: Where Model Meets Method (2015)
  • BookThe Buddha, the Bicycle, The Couch, and The Circle (2015)

Creative activity summary

My primary academic interest has been in clinicial work and the process variables or subtle ingredients that lead to helpful psychotherapy experiences. I serve on a variety of national and local committees and enjoy the challanges and rewards of collaboration. Since studying with Mark Miller and Bill Douglass in the Naropa Music Program in the early 90s, I have continued to perfom improvisational music with bands along the Front Range.

Courses taught

  • Group Psychotherapy
  • Ethics
  • Assessment and Apprasial in Counseling
  • Diagnostic Psychopathlogy
  • Research Methods

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

The works of Derald Sue and Nancy McWilliams are excellent as they combine  reserach, theory, real life examples, and passion.  But I also encourage students to go beyond psycholgy and to try new things.  When pressed for specifics I suggest they listen to Sun Ra or go see music live and dance, if possible go visit the MoMA and local art galliries, do a yoga challange or try martial arts, and of course check out the poetry of my sister, Kathleen Graber.

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

The best therapists stay open-minded, humble, and painfully aware of their own subjectivity and limitedness. I love the moments in group classes for embodying this truth. I can think of several times when students and I may be passionately debating our views about what dynamics are occuring in the classroom. Then another student precisely captures something important we all had missed. In those moments we realize we have been deluded by our own histories and locations. We take a deep breath of humility and spaciousness, and then we continue on in our relationship towards further learning and fuller connection. 

What does it mean to you when somebody says, “That’s so Naropa?”

It depends on the person and the situation. It can mean many things from being corny or sweet to passionate and interpersonally uncomfortable. For me, it means a deep discipline of sticking with things, our process, our relationships.

What's next?

I have a few more academic projects in the works, but eventually I want to write more simply and directly about the journey of being a therapist and joys and challenges of this work. I have always wanted to paint, although I have no talent for it. In my wildest fantasy, I want to be a concepetual artist.  Also I am also always looking at how I can be a good citizen — in the world and in my communities, and a great friend with my family and to myself. I have been at Naropa 25 years moving from a work-study janitor to core faculty, and would love for this to be my base for the next 25 years.  But along the way, I plan to try to stay open enough to hopefully end up in some unexpected places. 

  		Francis J