Dr. James Norris has over 20 years experience working with at-risk populations. He was born into a single-parent household in the Los Angeles area, where gangs, violence, drugs, and adversity loomed large. Despite the adversities and challenges, where many young males became products of the system, he went on to work as a Corrections Officer in the King County Jail in Seattle, Washington, and is now a licensed Doctor and healthcare provider.

"Education is the equalizer," his mother's words stayed his mind as he navigated the challenges of his youth. Dr. Norris held on to that notion like a lifeline, using it to fuel his aspirations both on and off the field. A student-athlete, he excelled not only academically but also as a standout high school football player, ranking among the Top 10 in California.

His skills on the field earned him a full athletic football scholarship to Western Illinois University, where he pursued a BA in Liberal Arts. He had dreams of playing in the NFL, and while an undrafted prospect, he signed a professional contract with the Arena Football League. After spending time in the Arena Football League, Dr. Norris decided if couldn’t obtain his dream of playing in the NFL, he would use his energy to give back to the community like he intended when his football career was over. 

Dr. Norris didn’t have a clear picture of what his service to the community would be, but he knew he wanted to give to others in the way others gave to him. His pursuit of service to others led him to a role as a Corrections Officer at the King County Jail in Seattle, Washington, where he spent 11 years bearing witness to the struggles of incarcerated minorities facing severe mental and emotional challenges without access to professional help. It was here that the seeds of change were sown, and Dr. Norris decided to pursue a master's degree in clinical psychology from Seattle University.
In his work as a practitioner, he discovered that most of the traditional counseling approaches lacked the cultural nuance and relevance to connect with communities of color. This inspired his decision to pursue a Doctoral degree in Counselor Education and Supervision, in order to educate students, counselors, and administrators using a framework specifically designed for effectively working with marginalized groups.

Today, Dr. James Norris is a  licensed mental health counselor and Assistant Professor at the University of the Cumberlands, and the founder of "ithemba”, which provides the tools to help people become better equipped to face life's challenges and shift from a state of hopelessness to hopefulness.


PhD Counselor Education and Supervision, University of the Cumberlands, 2022 
MA Clinical Psychology, Seattle University, 2009
BA Liberal Studies, Western Illinois University, 2005

Under Peer Review:
Norris, J., Levy, I., & Baggs, A.S. (Accepted). Preparing Future Counselors to Work with BIPOC Identified Males: The Integration of Hip Hop in Counselor Education. Journal of Counselor Preparation and Supervision.
Levy, I., Jefferson, L., & Norris, J. (Under Review). Evaluation of a Hip Hop and School Counselor Education Course. For the special issue “Ensuring a Combined Educator-Counselor Identity: A Critical Examination of School Counselor Training” for Teaching and Supervision in Counseling (TSC).
Norris, J., White, K.C. & Phillips, J. (Under Review). The use of Gestalt Approach and Creativity in Counseling Practice.

In Progress:
Norris, J., Jefferson, L. & Levy, I. Preparing Future Counselors to Work with BIPOC Identified Males: The Integration of Hip Hop in Counselor Practice.

Ford, D., Brown, N., & Norris, J. (2021). Introduction to 21st Century Counseling. In K. Butler & A. Flores-Locke (Eds.), Introduction to 21st Century Counseling: A multicultural & social justice approach.

Littlebear, S. & Norris, J. (2023). Advocacy in Professional Orientation Courses Through Classroom Culture Experiences. Association for Counselor Education and Supervision National Conference.
Newman, J., Norris, J. & Flanagan, D. (2023). Microaggression: The Lived Experience. Bigger Dreams, Better Tomorrow Webinar Series.
Flanagan, D. & Norris, J. (2022). The Importance of Peer Support Groups during Nurse Anesthesia Residency. American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology Annual Congress.
Norris, J. (2022). Applying the C.A.R.E. Model to Effectively Reach Underserved and Marginalized Communities. Rainier Springs Continuing Education Series.
Norris, J. (2021). Understanding the Re-traumatization of Students of Color in the Educational Space. City of Seattle Professional Development Series.