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Karen Neal , Ph.D.

  • Assistant Professor , Psychology Department
  • College of Arts and Sciences

When your husband is an Army Officer, how do you make sense of a career that involves 11 moves in 20 years? Sometimes, it just all comes together.

Dr. Karen Neal earned her bachelors degree from Carson-Newman College in Child and Family Services in 1982. An undergraduate internship in a temporary foster care facility strengthened her belief that she should pursue a career helping families. In 1983 she earned a M.S. in Child and Family Studies and Counseling Psychology from the University of Tennessee. While there, she was involved in research and teaching in REACH, a program that integrated autistic preschoolers into a class of typically functioning children.

Dr. Neal has been a family therapist in private practice, directed a child development center, assessed hundreds of childcare providers in five states through a national non-profit program, worked as a therapist in child abuse and spouse abuse, and served as an in-home therapist for county mental health. Along the way, she developed a passion for teaching college students, and she has taught in a total of eight colleges and universities.

Dr. Neal earned her Ph.D. in 2005 in Applied Developmental Psychology from George Mason University. She understands the wonderful stress of balancing graduate studies, a family and work. Her major area of expertise and research has been the social.  emotional and moral development of young children. Her dissertation explored parental influences on children’s propensity to forgive.

Child development, therapy, teaching—it DID all come together when Dr. Neal began leading workshops for MD’s, psychologists, and other care providers who work with young orphans in Ukraine. She has led workshops on Developmental Milestones and Assessment Techniques, Autism, Early Intervention Strategies and Behavioral Interventions with Young Children. Having led child care providers, she not only understands the importance of theory and knowledge of the lasted applied research, but also of factors such as employee scheduling, which is so crucial to the development of children in institutionalized care.

Dr. Neal believes that her education and varied experiences have been a tremendous benefit to her primary passion—teaching Psychology and Human & Community Services at Queens! Dr. Neal has taught has taught Introduction to Human and Community Services, Introduction to Psychology, The Psychology of Forgiveness, Developmental Psychology, Parenting in Contemporary Society, Ethical Issues in Human Services, Infant & Child Psychology, Adolescent Psychology, Advanced Human Services Studies, Senior Seminar in Human & Community Services, CORE, and lead John Belk International Tours to Alpine Europe, Poland, and Ukraine.


  • B.S.  - Family Studies; Carson Newman College
  • M.S.  - Child and Family Studies and Counseling Psychology; University of Tennessee Knoxville
  • Ph.D.  - Applied Developmental Psychology; George Mason University


  • National President's Award 2009 National Organization of Human Services
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