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Karla McLaren, M.Ed (c) is an award-winning author, social science researcher, and pioneering educator whose empathic approach to emotions revalues even the most “negative” emotions and opens startling new pathways into the depths of the soul.

Karla’s lifelong work has focused on the creation of a grand unified theory of emotions, which she has developed through her work with survivors of dissociative trauma, through her own experience as a hyper-empath, and through extensive research into the social and biological sciences.

Karla has also developed a unified Six Essential Aspects of Empathy model that highlights all of the processes in empathy and makes them accessible and easily understandable. This new model explicitly and intentionally welcomes people who have been exiled from earlier models of empathy (such as men, boys, and autistic people).

Karla is the author of The Art of Empathy: A Complete Guide to Life’s Most Essential Skill (2013), The Language of Emotions: What Your Feelings are Trying to Tell You (2010), and the multi-media online course Emotional Flow: Becoming Fluent in the Language of Emotions (2012).

Karla has taught at such venues as the University of San Francisco, Omega Institute, Naropa University, Kripalu Center, Hollyhock Learning Centre, and the Association for Humanistic Psychology. Additionally, as a prison arts educator with the William James Foundation, she has utilized singing, drumming, and drama to help men in maximum security prisons explore and heal long-held emotional traumas.

For more information, please see below.

Extended Biography

Karla McLaren, M.Ed. (c) is an award-winning author, social science researcher, and pioneering educator whose empathic approach to emotions revalues even the most “negative” emotions, and opens startling new pathways into the depths of the soul.

She is the author of The Art of Empathy: A Complete Guide to Life’s Most Essential Skill (2013), The Language of Emotions: What Your Feelings are Trying to Tell You (2010), and the multi-media online course Emotional Flow: Becoming Fluent in the Language of Emotions (2012).

Her honors and awards include the 2010 Gold Medal from the Independent Publisher Book Awards, and the 2010 Silver Medal from the Nautilus Book Awards for The Language of Emotions, and the 1998 Book of the Year from the Coalition of Visionary Retailers. She is also a summa cum laude and Phi Kappa Phi honors scholar.

Karla has taught at such venues as the University of San Francisco, Hollyhock Learning Centre, Omega Institute, Naropa University, Kripalu Center, and the Association for Humanistic Psychology. Additionally, as a prison arts educator with the William James Foundation, she has utilized singing, drumming, and drama to help men in maximum security prisons explore and heal long-held emotional traumas.

Karla is a Certified Human Resource Administrator and a Certified Career Development Facilitator who helps people identify the emotion work they are expected to perform (or expect others to perform, perhaps without realizing it). When emotion work is brought out into the open and managed skillfully, individuals and businesses can avoid unnecessary conflict, burnout, and loss of productivity.

Karla served as a researcher and editor on the books When Killing is a Crime by Tony Waters, Ph.D, and Take Back Your Life: Recovering from Cults and Abusive Relationships by Janja Lalich, Ph.D.

With Dr. Lalich, Karla also co-authored a research study on the multiple stigmatizations that GLBTQ people experience in fundamentalist religions (Inside and Outcast: Multifaceted Stigma and Redemption in the Lives of Gay and Lesbian Jehovah’s Witnesses). She and Dr. Lalich are co-authoring a book titled Escaping Utopia: Growing Up in a Cult, Getting Out, and Starting Over, based on Dr. Lalich’s groundbreaking study of seventy people who were born in or grew up in forty different cults spanning twelve countries.

Karla is currently completing her master’s thesis in education and developing new forms of social interaction and empathy curricula for autistic people and other neurologically diverse populations. She lives in Sonoma County, California with her husband, Tino Plank, RN, MSN, a nurse educator working in hospice and end-of-life care.

Curriculum Vitae

EDUCATION

M.Ed. in Education (Empathy and Social Interaction Curriculum Development with a focus in Linguistic Anthropology) – Sonoma State University, CA, in progress (2014)

B.A. with Honors in Social Science (Sociology, Criminology, Cultic Studies), summa cum laude – California State University, Chico, CA, 2006

Career Development Facilitator Certification – California State University, Chico, CA, 2006

Human Resource Administration Certification – Santa Rosa Junior College, CA 2009

A.A. in General Studies (Mathematics, Biology), Valedictorian – Monterey Peninsula College, CA, 1989

RECENT PUBLICATIONS

McLaren, K. (2014, in press). Whose Normal Counts as Normal? An International Online Survey of Autistic Adults’ Experiences of Social Skills Education.

McLaren, K. (2013). The Art of Empathy: A Complete Guide to Life’s Most Essential Skill. Boulder, CO: Sounds True.

McLaren, K. (2012). Emotional Flow: Becoming Fluent in the Language of Emotions. Boulder, CO: Sounds True.

McLaren, K. & Lalich, J. (2010). Inside and Outcast: Multifaceted Stigma and Redemption in the Lives of Gay and Lesbian Jehovah’s Witnesses. Journal of Homosexuality 57(10).

McLaren, K. (2010). The Language of Emotions: What Your Feelings Are Trying to Tell You. Boulder, CO: Sounds True.

Waters, T. (2007). When Killing is a Crime. Reinner Publishing. Researcher, content and technical editor on this criminology textbook.

McLaren, K. (2006). Ideology versus Reality in the Lunchroom: A Comparative Study of Three School Nutrition Programs. California Journal of Health Promotion 4(1).

Lalich, J. (2006) Take Back Your Life: Recovering from Cults and Abusive Relationships. Bay Tree Publishing. Content and technical editor on the revision and republishing of this sociological resource on cult abuse.

McLaren, K. (2005). The Social Context of Cults (Review). Skeptical Inquirer 29(4).

McLaren, K. (2004). Bridging the Chasm between Two Cultures. Skeptical Inquirer 28(3).

Research

CURRENT RESEARCH

Nothing About Us Without Us: An original international research study of people on the Autism Spectrum, focusing on their responses to existing forms of social skills training (Sonoma State University, thesis in progress, 2014).

Ongoing study organizing autism-positive and diversity-respecting approaches to autism from the research, drawing from linguistic anthropology, neurology, child development, and psychology (Sonoma State University, thesis in progress, 2014).

Book project entitled Escaping Utopia, co-authored with internationally recognized expert on cults, indoctrination, extremism, and terrorism, Dr. Janja Lalich. This project focuses on the first-person accounts of seventy people who grew up in cults or other high control groups and escaped.

RESEARCH INTERESTS

Empathy, emotions, emotion work, workplace research, microsociology, linguistic anthropology, social constructionism, neurology, stigma, disability studies, autism, neurodiversity, microethnographic research, somatic psychology, cultic studies, queer theory, crip theory.

PAST RESEARCH

Ethnographic sociological study of seventy cult survivors (For the upcoming book Escaping Utopia, in progress, 2014).

Research into international, historical, and multidisciplinary data on empathy for the creation of an original, unified model of empathy for the book The Art of Empathy: A Complete Guide to Life’s Most Essential Skill (2013).

Microethnographic study (2010) for Inside and Outcast: Multifaceted Stigma and Redemption in the Lives of Gay and Lesbian Jehovah’s Witnesses. (Researcher, coder, and theorist).

Criminological and sociological research for the the book When Killing is a Crime (2007) by Tony Waters, Ph.D.

Original microethnographic study (2006) for Ideology versus Reality in the Lunchroom: A Comparative Study of Three School Nutrition Programs.

Teaching, Seminars, and Workshops

Karla McLaren focuses on emotions, empathy, and emotion work, and she teaches workshops and retreats suitable for professional and lay participants.

Karla is also developing a certification process for her work, Dynamic Emotional Integration™, a nonclinical approach to emotions that can be used by individuals, couples, and families, in schools and in the workplace, and in therapeutic settings. The Dynamic Emotional Integration™ certification curriculum is being designed now, and will be available in early 2015.

THE ART OF EMPATHY
Naropa University, Colorado 2013
Kripalu Center, Massachusetts 2014
Hollyhock Retreat Center, British Columbia 2014

EMBODYING EMPATHY with Nick Walker
Studio 12, Berkeley, CA, 2012 and 2013

EMOTION THEATRE™
Holistic Teaching & Learning Conference, Ashland 2014
East West Bookshop, Seattle 2014
Naropa University, Colorado 2013
People for People, Edmonton, Alberta 2012
The CG Jung Society, Florida 2012
University of San Francisco, 2011 through 2013

EMOTIONAL GENIUS
The Wake Up Festival, Colorado 2013
Integral Leadership in Action, California 2013
The CG Jung Society, Florida 2012
People for People, Edmonton, Alberta 2012
Kripalu Center, Massachusetts 2010-2012

EMBRACING YOUR SHADOW
Monte Rio Arts Center, California 2013
Kripalu Center, Massachusetts 2010-2012

ADDITIONAL TEACHING EXPERIENCE
The Association for Humanistic Psychology, the Institute for Noetic Sciences, Omega Institute, and the William James Foundation (Prison Arts Educator).

Podcasts, Interviews, and Excerpts

PODCASTS & AUDIO INTERVIEWS

Insights at the Edge Podcast with Tami Simon on The Art of Empathy (listen to Insights, part 1) (1 hour, 2 minutes)

Insights at the Edge Podcast with Tami Simon on The Art of Empathy (listen to Insights, part 2) (1 hour, 6 minutes)

On Bread for the Journey with Marianna Cacciatore (listen to Bread for the Journey) (58 minutes)

On How She Really Does It with Koren Motekaitis (listen to How She Really Does It) (56 minutes)

On Conversations with Michael Stone (listen to Conversations) (51 minutes)

On The Opening Door (listen to The Opening Door) (27 minutes)

On Conscious Talk Radio (listen to Conscious Talk) (56 minutes)

ARTICLES, INTERVIEWS & EXCERPTS

A Talk with Empath Karla McLaren on Rewire Me

Why Feeling (Even Feeling Bad) Is Good on Rewire Me

Shelter (a 4-part essay) on Untold Animal Stories

Excerpt from The Art of Empathy on Spirituality and Practice

The Difference between Empathy and Enmeshment

The Difference between Healthy Empathy and Martyrdom

Empaths on the Autism Spectrum, part 1 on Autism and Empathy

Empaths on the Autism Spectrum, part 2 on Autism and Empathy

The Addiction Show with Shira Goldberg (Video, 41 minutes)

Videos

VIDEOS ON EMPATHY AND EMOTIONS

The Art of Empathy introduction (2 minutes)

The Fabulous Wonder Weasels and Lesser Weasels! (7 minutes)

Are You Positive about Emotions? (4 minutes)

Embracing Your Emotions (1 minute)

Emotional Flow introduction (3 minutes)

An Invitation to Emotion Theatre™ (2 minutes)

Emotion Theatre™ series

Emotion Theatre™ part 1 (8 minutes)
Emotion Theatre™ part 2 (7 minutes)
Emotion Theatre™ part 3 (8 minutes)
Emotion Theatre™ part 4 (6 minutes)
Emotion Theatre™ part 5 (10 minutes)

INTERVIEWS ON EMPATHY

Empathy meets Aikido with Nick Walker and Edwin Rutsch (33 minutes)

Karla McLaren on Empathy with Edwin Rutsch (1 hour 14 minutes)

The Benefits of Empathy series with Edwin Rutsch

Empathy can help you understand emotions (19 minutes)
Empathy can help you understand emotion work in yourself and others (8 minutes)
Empathy helps you support others (12 minutes)
Empathy helps protect you from emotional manipulation (10 minutes)
Empathy can help you understand art, music and literature very deeply (It’s Einfühlung!) (9 minutes)