Kara E. Wolff

Director of the Graduate Program in Counseling Psychology; Associate Professor of Psychology

Education

Ph.D., Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 2009
M.A., Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 2006
B.A., Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, Illinois, 2003

“Human beings are rich, complex creatures who are created in God’s image. Seeking to understand humanity is a way of seeking out God’s design and work in the world.”

Dr. Kara Wolff believes good psychologists are genuinely curious about the world. “I hope that my students develop a life-long pursuit of satisfying that curious spirit. People are incredibly interesting, and there is so much more to know about why we do the things that we do.” Our world can be highly divisive, and understanding the experiences of those who are different is critical to developing empathy. “We all live in the world together and learning how to put aside your own self-interest is essential to developing true compassion for others.”

Growing up in the Chicago community of North Lawndale profoundly impacted Wolff’s vocational interests. “As a white child in a predominately African American community, I learned early that race and racism are significant forces in the United States. This inspired me to think more deeply about identity and how it shapes us throughout our development. It also awoke in me a long-standing curiosity about how people experience the world and a desire to better understand that.”

What drew her to Trinity:

Relationships drew her to Trinity. “The time that I spend with my students has allowed me to develop longstanding relationships with them. Our conversations may begin around class requirements, but they develop into discussions about life.”

Research interests:

Wolff’s research interests include race and racism, issues of gender and sexuality, clinical supervision, colorblind ideology, and identity. “The work that I do is in exploring how particular aspects of our identities (things like race, gender, sexuality, class, etc.) affect our development and sense of self. Understanding these phenomena from a psychological perspective can help us to acknowledge and honor differences while also pursuing the radical inclusivity of God’s kingdom.”

When she’s not teaching:

Wolff tries to travel the world with her family. “I have three daughters, Rowan, Everly, and Juniper, and a wonderful spouse. We love to spend time exploring the city of Chicago and beyond.”

Courses

Multicultural Counselling and Psychotherapy
Maladaptive Behavior and Psychopathology
Psychology of Gender
Psychological Tests and Measurements

Human Sexuality
Social and Cultural Diversity
Theories of Psychotherapy

Papers Published and/or Presented

Wolff, K.E. & Clevering, J.B. (2019). System justification theory and multicultural training in counselor education. Journal of Counseling in Illinois, 5(1), 19-27.

Jones, S. & Wolff, K. (2018). Building therapeutic strength through vulnerability. Presentation at the Illinois Association of Multicultural Counseling Conference in University Park, Illinois

Wolff, K., Clevering, J., Fazekas, A., Otte, O., & Van Der Pol, J. (2018). The relationships among rejection of racism, colorblindness, guilt, and empathy. Paper presented at the Midwestern Psychological Association Conference, Chicago, Illinois

Clevering, J., Wolff, K., Rosario, R., & Lemkuil, E. (2018). Emotional reactions to racism: Definitions and social dominance orientation matter. Paper presented at the Midwestern Psychological Association Conference, Chicago, Illinois

Clevering, J.C. & Wolff, K.E. (2017). Speaking of racism: Differing reactions to differing terms. Research presented at the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Wolff, K.E. & Clevering, J.C. (2017). How to belong when you don’t fit in: Exploring paths to a sense of belonging among racially diverse students at a predominately White, Christian College. Research presented at the Christian Association for Psychological Studies International Conference, Lombard, Illinois

Clevering, J., Wolff, K.E., Coffey, C. & Roberts, A. (2015). Where do I fit? The relationship between achievement goals and student identity. Paper presented at the Midwestern Psychological Association Conference, Chicago, Illinois

Wolff, K.E. (2014). Understanding Race: Focusing on Culturally Competent Practice in Mental Health. Continuing education workshop for social workers and counselors at the Evangelical Child and Family Agency, Wheaton, Illinois

Wolff, K.E. (2013). Considering mindfulness in trauma recovery. Paper presented at the Psychology Renewed Conference, of Trinity Christian College, Palos Heights, Illinois

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, 46(2), 283-307.

Professional Society Memberships

Illinois Counseling Association
Illinois Mental Health Counselors Association
Illinois Psychological Association
Midwestern Psychological Association

+ Expertise

Dr. Kara Wolff believes good psychologists are genuinely curious about the world. “I hope that my students develop a life-long pursuit of satisfying that curious spirit. People are incredibly interesting, and there is so much more to know about why we do the things that we do.” Our world can be highly divisive, and understanding the experiences of those who are different is critical to developing empathy. “We all live in the world together and learning how to put aside your own self-interest is essential to developing true compassion for others.”

Growing up in the Chicago community of North Lawndale profoundly impacted Wolff’s vocational interests. “As a white child in a predominately African American community, I learned early that race and racism are significant forces in the United States. This inspired me to think more deeply about identity and how it shapes us throughout our development. It also awoke in me a long-standing curiosity about how people experience the world and a desire to better understand that.”

What drew her to Trinity:

Relationships drew her to Trinity. “The time that I spend with my students has allowed me to develop longstanding relationships with them. Our conversations may begin around class requirements, but they develop into discussions about life.”

Research interests:

Wolff’s research interests include race and racism, issues of gender and sexuality, clinical supervision, colorblind ideology, and identity. “The work that I do is in exploring how particular aspects of our identities (things like race, gender, sexuality, class, etc.) affect our development and sense of self. Understanding these phenomena from a psychological perspective can help us to acknowledge and honor differences while also pursuing the radical inclusivity of God’s kingdom.”

When she’s not teaching:

Wolff tries to travel the world with her family. “I have three daughters, Rowan, Everly, and Juniper, and a wonderful spouse. We love to spend time exploring the city of Chicago and beyond.”

+ Courses, Publications & Research

Courses

Multicultural Counselling and Psychotherapy
Maladaptive Behavior and Psychopathology
Psychology of Gender
Psychological Tests and Measurements

Human Sexuality
Social and Cultural Diversity
Theories of Psychotherapy

Papers Published and/or Presented

Wolff, K.E. & Clevering, J.B. (2019). System justification theory and multicultural training in counselor education. Journal of Counseling in Illinois, 5(1), 19-27.

Jones, S. & Wolff, K. (2018). Building therapeutic strength through vulnerability. Presentation at the Illinois Association of Multicultural Counseling Conference in University Park, Illinois

Wolff, K., Clevering, J., Fazekas, A., Otte, O., & Van Der Pol, J. (2018). The relationships among rejection of racism, colorblindness, guilt, and empathy. Paper presented at the Midwestern Psychological Association Conference, Chicago, Illinois

Clevering, J., Wolff, K., Rosario, R., & Lemkuil, E. (2018). Emotional reactions to racism: Definitions and social dominance orientation matter. Paper presented at the Midwestern Psychological Association Conference, Chicago, Illinois

Clevering, J.C. & Wolff, K.E. (2017). Speaking of racism: Differing reactions to differing terms. Research presented at the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Wolff, K.E. & Clevering, J.C. (2017). How to belong when you don’t fit in: Exploring paths to a sense of belonging among racially diverse students at a predominately White, Christian College. Research presented at the Christian Association for Psychological Studies International Conference, Lombard, Illinois

Clevering, J., Wolff, K.E., Coffey, C. & Roberts, A. (2015). Where do I fit? The relationship between achievement goals and student identity. Paper presented at the Midwestern Psychological Association Conference, Chicago, Illinois

Wolff, K.E. (2014). Understanding Race: Focusing on Culturally Competent Practice in Mental Health. Continuing education workshop for social workers and counselors at the Evangelical Child and Family Agency, Wheaton, Illinois

Wolff, K.E. (2013). Considering mindfulness in trauma recovery. Paper presented at the Psychology Renewed Conference, of Trinity Christian College, Palos Heights, Illinois

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, 46(2), 283-307.

+ Awards & Memberships

Professional Society Memberships

Illinois Counseling Association
Illinois Mental Health Counselors Association
Illinois Psychological Association
Midwestern Psychological Association