Kara E. Wolff
Professor of Psychology
on faculty since 2012
What creates, motivates, and ultimately spurs for us a new way of operating in the world?
“As a person shaped by the Reformed tradition, I use the framework of God’s sovereignty to explore this question of ‘why and how’ change happens,” said Dr. Kara Wolff, professor of psychology. “My faith encourages me to seek answers but also allows me to accept the unknown, as God is in all things and above all things and may often work in ways I do not understand.”
Wolff’s approach to psychology and the unknown has developed over the course of her experience as an educator. In addition to teaching, she has seven years of clinical psychology experience, during which she has provided counseling to children, adolescents, and adults, served as a school counselor, provided psychological assessments, and more.
“My belief and hope for change in people’s lives is grounded in my faith in God. I believe the process of connecting with someone and hearing their deepest concerns is facilitated by a God who made us for relationship and connection,” said Wolff. “I have found that my Reformed perspective on learning as part of God’s call on our lives has been relevant in both the classroom and clinical setting.”
Growing up in a primarily African American neighborhood, Wolff gained an early sense of her racial identity, a realization that fed not only her graduate research and career but also her goal to emphasize multiculturalism and advocate for social justice. “Throughout my life this has taken the form of cross-race friendships and a commitment to seeking social justice within systems and institutions,” said Wolff. “I especially enjoyed seeing the journey of students throughout a semester, when in the beginning of the semester they believe contemporary stereotypes and by the end are open to discuss difficult issues.”
Wolff lives with her husband and daughters in the Lawndale neighborhood of the city of Chicago and attends Lawndale Christian Reformed Church.
Ph.D., Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 2009
M.A., Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 2006
B.A., Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, Illinois, 2003
Courses and Publications/Research
- Cross-Cultural Psychology
- Maladaptive Behavior and Psychopathology
- Male/Female Psychological Perspectives
- Psychological Tests and Measurements
- Social and Cultural Diversity
- Theories of Psychotherapy
Papers Published and/or Presented
Wolff, K.E. & Munley, P.H. (2012). “Exploring the relationships between White racial consciousness, feminist identity development and family environment for White undergraduate women.” College Student Journal.
Wolff, K.E. & Munley, P.H. (2009). “White undergraduate Women: White racial consciousness, feminist identity development and family environment.” Paper presented at the Division 35 poster session of the 117th Annual Convention of the APA in Toronto, Canada.
Huber, D., Sauer, E., VanderWal, B. & Wolff, K. (2008). “Training clinics: A model setting for assessment batteries.” Poster presented at the Great Lakes Regional Conference, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Bradshaw, E.S., McGrady, M.L. & Wolff, K.E. (2006). “What future college counseling center practitioners need to become more racially aware: Implications for self and clients.” Experiential Workshop at The Dennis H. May Conference on Diversity Issues & The Role of Counseling Centers, Champaign, Illinois.
Awards and Memberships
Professional Society Membership
- American Psychological Association
- Illinois Psychological Association