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Photo of Karla McLaren

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Karla McLaren 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 (2010), and the multi-media online course Emotional Flow (2012).

Karla has taught at such venues as the University of San Francisco, 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 also 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.

In her academic career, 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 currently 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 sixty-five people who were born in or grew up in forty different cults spanning twelve countries.

A national Phi Kappa Phi honors scholar, Karla is now pursuing her masters in education and focusing her thesis on developing new forms of social interaction and empathy curricula for neurologically diverse people. She lives in Sonoma County, California with her husband, Tino, a Master’s level nurse educator working in hospice and end-of-life care.