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Welcome

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Hello

Hi and welcome to my practice Wolff Clinical Group. Finding the right therapist is a difficult task and I hope this gives you a sense of who I am as a psychologist and whether I would be a good fit for your concerns and goals. I approach the work of counseling with a curious spirit about the human experience. 

Primarily, I am a relational therapist who aims to create a space where clients can be genuinely heard on their path towards healing. I consider the practice of counseling within a social justice lens, attending to the ways that systems and structures of oppression shape our lives.

I am licensed in both Illinois and Michigan. I am in network with BCBS of Illinois and Medicare insurances. I also accept self-pay clients. 

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My Story

When I was in elementary school, I really wanted to jump Double Dutch.

 

I wanted to be the coordinated fast moving jumper turning circles within the two spinning ropes. In my city neighborhood, that’s what girls did for fun. I watched my friends on the block whip their clothesline ropes in circles. If you've ever watched Double Dutch you know that the twirl of the ropes is mesmerizing in its synchronicity. When the ropes hit the ground there’s a kind of dance rhythm beat that is created.

 

Then the girls turning the ropes and the jumper herself begin a chant that keeps time. And the girl who’s going to jump watches the turn of the ropes, motioning with her hand whether the turners should speed up or slow down just a bit as she times her entrance into this twisting fray. Usually there is a pause and then the girl jumps in, that entrance alone is an act of extreme talent, to get in between two ropes twirling opposite each other without getting tangled in them? A work of art when it happens just right. Sometimes the timing isn't right and the clothesline hits you- it stings something fierce! And then there’s the actual jumping, some of my friends could turn circles, alternate their feet and even invite another person into the ropes to jump tandem. You needed to have an acute sense of rhythm and even more the coordination to pull it off.

 

A thing of beauty, really.

 

I however, did not have that. At all.

 

Every time I tried to jump Double Dutch I tangled the ropes. I couldn’t do it from a stopped position in the middle of the ropes (supposedly easier!) or through running into the already turning ropes. I could not do it no matter what I tried. It was embarrassing. And discouraging. My neighborhood friends and school classmates did teach me how to turn the ropes which I was marginally better at. I still wasn’t the best, unable to sense the needed speed changes or identify the sensitivity the jumper needed by feel. Mostly I was a spectator, watching, wishing I could get it just right.

 

When I was a child, I started to think I couldn’t jump double dutch because I’m white. You see, all the girls in my neighborhood and class at school were Black. The Black girls had this skill down, and I, often the sole white girl, was a disaster.

 

Later I realized that my inability to jump Double Dutch had to do with a lot of things, most notably my lack of rhythm and generally poor athletic skills. But as a child race seemed like the plausible explanation.

 

Why?

 

Likely because we live in a society that has strong messaging about racial difference and that ultimately incorrectly ties this to biology. One of my favorite documentary series, Race the Power of an Illusion, explains clearly how race was created in our society and then used to justify racial discrimination. 

 

Growing up in a primarily Black community I saw the ways in which systemic racial and economic injustice impacted the lives of people I loved. Those early experiences have shaped my desire to live a life oriented towards justice both personally and professionally. 

I bring who I am into my work as a psychologist. I am relationally oriented and eager to hear about the richness and complexity of your life narrative. Based on my work as a professor and my experience as a therapist I know that issues of identity can dramatically impact our lives both in positive and negative ways. In counseling, my clients and I explore the ways that their various identities (i.e. race, gender, sexuality, religious, disability, culture, etc) interface with their concerns. I am conscious of how systems and structures can both oppress and privilege us as humans.

 

In my work I seek to integrate that awareness as we focus on your growth and desire for the future. 

Since graduating from Western Michigan University in 2009 with a PhD in Counseling Psychology I have been working with individuals, couples, and families in clinical practice. I cultivate a warm therapeutic relationship focused on helping my clients live into their values and find meaning in their lives. I am also a tenured professor at a local college where I teach and supervise counselors-in-training as they pursue their masters degrees in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.

 

I have training in a variety of counseling perspectives (i.e. interpersonal, psychodynamic, feminist, dialectical behavior therapy) and lean into processes that emphasize client strengths as a pathway towards healing. I'm particularly interested in ways that the practice of counseling can be anti-oppressive and have pursued training in anti-racism work, social justice therapy approaches and ways of decolonizing therapy.

Kara E. Wolff, PhD
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