About Dr. King
Pamela Ebstyne King, Ph.D. joined Fuller Theological Seminary as assistant professor of Marital and Family Studies in 2008, after serving in the School of Psychology for eight years as an adjunct and research professor. She was installed in 2014 with a professorship named for her mentor, Peter L. Benson. In 2021 she was promoted to the position of Peter L. Benson Professor of Applied Developmental Science. Dr. King is also executive director of the Thrive Center for Human Development.
Dr. King’s academic and applied efforts aim to promote a movement of human thriving that contributes to flourishing societies. Her primary academic interests lie at the intersection of thriving and spiritual development. She is passionate about understanding what individual strengths and environments enable humans to thrive and become all God created them to be. She holds particular interest in understanding the role of faith, spirituality, religion, and virtues in this process. To this end she has led in building an empirical field of study of religious and spiritual development within developmental psychology that provides a psychological scientific perspective of spiritual formation.
She has extensively studied and written on conceptualizations of thriving and positive youth development. Her work on telos is noted to provide an interdisciplinary framework for human thriving and flourishing from different philosophical, theological, and cultural perspectives and to provide a structure for understanding practical concepts like purpose, vocation, and joy. Her work combines theology, empirical research, and community engagement to further understand what contexts and settings enable people to thrive. She has conducted research funded by Biologos Foundation, the John Templeton Foundation, the Fetzer Institute, Compassion International, and Tyndale House, among others. In addition to her scholarship, she finds deep joy in teaching and mentoring students at Fuller.
Dr. King is coauthor of The Reciprocating Self: Human Development in Theological Perspective and Thriving with Stone Age Minds: Evolutionary Psychology, Christian Theology & Human Flourishing, coeditor of The Handbook of Spiritual Development in Childhood and Adolescence, and coauthor of the inaugural chapter on research on religious and spiritual development in the seventh edition of the Handbook of Child Psychology and Developmental Science. She has served on the editorial boards of Developmental Psychology, Journal of Positive Psychology, Applied Developmental Science, the Encyclopedia of Applied Developmental Science, and the Encyclopedia of Spiritual Development in Childhood and Adolescence. She has also published articles in the Journal on Adolescent Research, Journal of Early Adolescence, New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, and Journal of Psychology and Christianity. King is a member of the Society for Research on Adolescents, Society for Research on Child Development, and Division 36 of the American Psychological Association.
In addition to her studies at Fuller, Dr. King completed her undergraduate studies at Stanford University and a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford’s Center on Adolescence; she was a visiting scholar under the divinity faculty at Cambridge University. Ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA), she has led high school and college ministries, and regularly speaks, preaches, and consults for various community organizations and churches. She lives in Pasadena with her husband and three children.
+ View a list of her current publications and speaking engagements.
Read Posts by Dr. King
Cleaning Up Your Relationships
“Unmitigated technology use is currently impacting our relational capacities by replacing time with actual humans and inhibiting the development of social skills. Such use spreads us too thin—beyond our relational capacity—among our many digital “friends,” develops a false sense of emotional intimacy without the accountability of actual relationships, and promotes unchecked individualism that is compromising…+ Read More
The Search for Meaning during Holy Week
Easter is time of great hope and joy as we celebrate the miraculous. It is a time to reflect on the triumph of God’s love, light, and life in the world, and on the power of forgiveness. The story of Easter brings meaning to suffering and provides hope even in the most turbulent times. The…+ Read More
What do YOU need to thrive?
“Thriving requires or presumes that the individual is growing as a person and also is making a contribution beyond the self.” King & Mangan, 2023 I wish I could offer each of you a specific thriving program with a guarantee that it would work for you. Add a little A to a smidge of B,…+ Read More
What’s Love got to do with it?
I I am often asked about strategies for thriving. “How do I thrive?” “What practices help with thriving?” Thriving is complicated, and individuals thrive differently. However, I have a simple answer to the question of how to thrive. Offer more love. Love provides heart and motivation for the growth and contribution so essential for thriving – the love of…+ Read More
What is Thriving and Why is it Important?
Thriving is living life on purpose. I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10b) Psychology and theology come together to provide a vision for the good life What is the fuss about thriving? From Kaiser Permanente to Petco, everyone uses the word. It’s an appealing idea, the…+ Read More
Pause and say thanks this holiday season
Gratitude affect happiness and wellbeing primarily through positive relationships. We finding that beliefs matters toward experiences and practices of gratitude.+ Read More
Practicing the 5 A’s to Slow down and Offer Thanks
Practicing gratitude has the power to transform and involves our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Pay attention to this powerful positive emotion using these simple steps to guide you. Attune Become aware of the emotions you experience when you consider gifts you have received. Perhaps you feel the emotions of delight and joy; let them point you…+ Read More
The Power of Transcendence and Spirituality in a Modern World
Pamela King reflects on the church of her youth and considers lessons from her current research findings about spirituality for the future.+ Read More
Rethinking Traditional Church for a Modern Age
Pamela King reflects on the church of her youth and how it deeply formed her identity, sense of purpose, and belonging.+ Read More
The 5 A’s of Agility: Adapting through Life Changes
Finding joy requires practice. Learn how you can be agile and experience more joy through our 5-step process.+ Read More
Unmasking Mental Health: Building Resilience and Thriving “Muscles”
As mental health awareness grows, Pamela King reflects on the tools we need to live coherent, purposeful lives.+ Read More
The Promise of Easter: Thriving in a Difficult World
Dr. Pamela King discusses how tapping into our faith and contributing to a flourishing world can help us thrive through difficulty.+ Read More
Next Wave Spirituality: Thriving for the Greater Good
As the world continues to languish, Dr. Pamela King emphasizes the need for spirituality as a source of personal and societal transformation.+ Read More
Cultivating Spiritual Practices for the New Year
As we enter a new year, Dr. Pamela King invites us to find daily spiritual practices that will draw us closer to ourselves, others and God.+ Read More
Slowing Down and Thriving This Advent
Dr. Pamela King highlights the importance of pacing during the holidays, offering self-awareness practices to refocus on what matters most.+ Read More
An Invitation to Thrive
Dr. Pamela King invites leaders to reimagine and lead in new ways in order to enable all people and communities to thrive.+ Read More
The Wows and Woes of Graduation: Traversing Transition with Hope
Dr. Pamela King reflects on her hopes for her son as he graduates high school and her new role as a partner in this next phase of their lives.+ Read More
Breaking Open: The Joys and Laments of Vaccinated Living
As our country slowly begins to re-open, Pamela King calls us to re-orient our lives towards what matters most and brings us joy.+ Read More
Bouncing Back or Bouncing Beyond? Shifting from Structures to Systems
Dr. Pam King discusses the importance of creating transformative systems that will enable human thriving.+ Read More
Finding Agility through the 5 A’s
Part of our journey towards thriving involves agility. Pamela King explains how we can be agile through this 5-step process.+ Read More
All Bets are Off: Rethinking the Basics Amid COVID-19
How can we carry out our basic needs and still thrive during COVID-19? Dr. Pam King shares 8 ways we can do this.+ Read More
Thriving over the Long Haul this Fall
Dr. Pamela King reviews the elements of a thriving mindset, providing tips on how we can pursue each as we approach the fall of 2020.+ Read More
6 Tips for Managing Emotions in Times of Uncertainty
A key to thriving is learning how to respond to our emotions in the face of loss, grief, and pain. Here are 6 ways you can start doing this.+ Read More
A Quarantine Mother’s Day: Finding Purpose in the Middle of Crisis
In an unprecedented Mother’s Day, Dr. Pamela King invites all mothers to focus on their purpose in order to live more fulfilling lives.+ Read More
Staying Grounded, Connected, and Directed through Disruption
Dr. Pam King discusses how spirituality can help us stay grounded, connected, and directed throughout challenges.+ Read More
Light in Darkness: Not a Wholly Unprecedented Holy Week
Dr. Pam King explores how our beliefs can bring hope and light to our lives during dark times like COVID-19.+ Read More
Changing Our Focus from Surviving to Thriving During COVID-19
Dr. Pamela King reflects on the importance of contemplative practices as the key to thriving during the unprecedented times.+ Read More
Thriving on the Road to Joy
How can caring adults equip youth for a journey of long-lasting joy? Pamela King highlights the 3 essentials needed.+ Read More
Orienting Ourselves Through the Holi-daze
Dr. Pamela King reminds us about the significance of the holidays and orienting our lives to what matters through the holiday craze.+ Read More
Conversing on Thriving
Pamela King discusses how community and purpose contribute to human development and flourishing.+ Read More
The 3 Religious and Spiritual Assets of Youth Thriving
Pamela King shares the 3 dimensions of religion and spirituality that promote positive youth development.+ Read More
Helping Youth with Failure
Pamela King talks purpose, spirituality, and social connection as assets for helping youth overcome failure.+ Read More
Installation Address: An Invitation to Thrive
In her installation address, Pamela King speaks on thriving as an invitation to embrace our purpose in God’s ongoing story.+ Read More
Asset Building in Youth: Do You Treat Them as Half Full or Half Empty?
Explore how youth programs can help teens strengthen the developmental assets that contribute to their thriving.+ Read More
The Hopeful Lens of Positive Youth Development
Learn how ministries can serve and empower youth facing trauma through a developmental systems approach.+ Read More