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Barbara-Jean B. Sullivan, PhD, APRN-BC, NP

Clinical Assistant Professor Emerita
Undergraduate Studies Program
Room 2152 NURS1
University of Michigan School of Nursing
400 North Ingalls Building
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-5482
Telephone: (734) 615-2997
Fax: (734) 936-5525


  • Mental, physical health
  • Geriatric heart failure
  • Personality problems and education
  • Early trauma and resilience in personality disorders
  • Self regulation, prevention, and managing depression

Dr. Sullivan’s scholarly endeavors in psychiatric nursing and clinical psychology emerge from her roots as a neurosurgical intensive care nurse who helped people cope with life altering brain tumors, spinal cord injuries, and chronic neurophysiological and psychological disorders. The theme of “life adjustment” to illness, trauma, and loss have been central to her research on self-esteem and depression in adolescents with diabetes, couples coping with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and understanding intrapsychic phenomena that may facilitate adaptive coping.  More recent work is focused on caregivers of heart failure patients, cognitive health in the elderly, self management  and prevention of depression , adjustment to college life, and mental and physical health in single parent families, with a particular focus on resilience and adaptation. Her scholarship emerges from and is continually informed by many years of clinical practice working with children, adolescents, adults, and families doing psychological testing, learning and cognitive assessments, and individual and family therapy.

Current Research Grants and Programs

  • Prevention and Self Management of Depression sponsored by Karin Foundation and Dr. Melvin McInnis of the Depression Center (PI is Dr. Bonnie Hagerty)


Dr. Sullivan has taught psychiatric mental health nursing  in the undergraduate, second career, and graduate programs at U-M School of Nursing. As a fully licensed clinical psychologist, certified CNS in child and adolescent psychiatry, and licensed psychiatric NP, she brings a wealth of clinical experience and academic knowledge about brain function and cognition to her teaching. Her knowledge of child development and the importance of early relationship patterns in shaping later behavior guide her teaching, helping undergraduates better understand the experience of their medical patients.  In teaching graduate Psychiatric NP/CNS students, Dr. Sullivan encourages  the knowledgeable use of psychotropic medications for treating psychiatric disorders, but insists on the importance of fully knowing the patient and alternative treatment modalities. Accordingly, Dr. Sullivan shares her rich psychodynamic background blended with a relationship focused nursing perspective in her teaching of psychiatric assessment and therapy to her graduate students. This leaves her graduates better informed  clinical decision makers regarding  when and how to use medications, CBT, DBT, ITP, and family therapy with their patients.

Affiliations / Service

  • Member, National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculty, 2007 (Special Interest Group for Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners 2009-present)
  • Member, Sigma Xi, Scientific Research Society, 1987-present
  • Member, American Psychological Association, 1985-present
  • Member, American Psychiatric Nurses Association, 2008-present
  • Member, Sigma Theta Tau, 1976-present
  • Chair, Faculty Practice Plan Advisory Committee, University of Michigan School of Nursing, 2009-2010


  • School Psychology Specialist Degree, University of Detroit Mercy, Detroit, MI, 2000
  • PhD - Clinical Psychology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, 1987
  • MA - Clinical Psychology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 1983
  • MSN - Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing, Yale University, New Haven, CT, 1976
  • BSN, Fitchburg State College, Fitchburg, MA, 1973

Publication Highlights

  • Sullivan, B.J. (1978). Self-esteem and depression in adolescent diabetic girls Diabetes Care, Vol (1), (Inaugural Issue).

  • Sullivan, B.J. (1979). Adjustment in Diabetic Adolescent Girls: Part I – Development of the Diabetic Adjustment Scale, Psychosomatic Medicine, 41:119-126

  • Sullivan, B.J.,(1979). Adjustment in Diabetic Adolescent Girls: Part II – Adjustment, Self Esteem, and Depression, Psychosomatic Medicine, (41), 127-13.

  • Sullivan, B.J. and Selvaggio, E.(1979). Negative parental evaluations: how they affect the child. The Australian Nurses Journal (reprinted in the Maternal Child Nursing Journal, Fall, 1979).