Barbara Alane Kerr

School of Education - Educational Psychology
Williamson Family Distinguished Professor of Counseling Psychology
Primary office:
Joseph R. Pearson Hall
Room 130 Q
University of Kansas
1122 West Campus Rd
Lawrence, KS 66045-3101

Barbara Kerr, Ph.D. holds an endowed chair as Distinguished Professor of Counseling Psychology at the University of Kansas and is an American Psychological Association Fellow. Her M.A. from the Ohio State University and her Ph.D. from the University of Missouri are both in counseling psychology. Her research has focused on the development of talent, creativity, and optimal states, while training psychologists and counselors to be talent scouts who provide positive, strengths-based services. She founded the Guidance Laboratory for Gifted and Talented at the University of Nebraska; was Associate Director of the Belin-Blank National Center for Gifted and Talented at the University of Iowa; and co-director of the National Science Foundation projects for talented at risk girls at Arizona State University. She is editor of the recent Encyclopedia of Giftedness, Creativity, and Talent Development, and author of Smart Girls: A New Psychology of Girls, Women, and Giftedness; A Handbook for Counseling Gifted and Talented; co-author of Smart Boys: Talent, Masculinity, and the Search for Meaning, Counseling Girls and Women and over one hundred articles, chapters, and papers in the area of giftedness, talent, and creativity. She currently directs the Counseling Laboratory for the Exploration of Optimal States (CLEOS) at the University of Kansas, a research through service program that identifies and guides creative adolescents. With Karen Multon, she has co-directed the NSF Project, Milestones and Danger Zones for STEM Women.


I teach both undergraduate, masters, and doctoral level courses. At the undergraduate level, I teach Positive Psychology. At the masters level I teach Advanced Counseling Skills and Practicum. At the Ph.D. level, I teach Advanced Counseling Theories and History and Systems of Psychology. In addition, I teach seminars in creativity and optimal development at KU and as a visiting scholar to Monash University in Australia. My teaching is always a combination of lecture and experiential activities that allow students to apply their learning of theory, to engage in original research, and to produce new ideas.

Teaching Interests

  • Counseling
  • Positive psychology
  • Theories


My research concerns the academic and career development of exceptionally creative people. I have a special interest in the intersection of gender, creative talent, and privilege. I study creativity at the individual, group, and organizational level.

Research Interests

  • Gender, Creativity, Career Development


I provide leadership at the national and international level to professional organizations related to giftedness and creativity, including service as Editor of Gifted and Talented International. Nationally, I provide both service and consultation to psychology organizations, universities, and schools. I create research through service laboratories to serve bright young people while learning their special needs. Finally, I have co-founded one of the nation's leading "makerspaces," a creative community of 100 members and 1500 online members who engage in invention, design, and art in a collaborative organization.

Selected Publications

Kerr, B. Alane, & Multon, K. D (2015). The Development of Gender Identity, Gender Roles, and Gender Relations in Gifted Students. Journal of Counseling and Development, 93(2), 183-191.

Kerr, B. A (2014). Counseling High Ability Adolescents in School. In F. Dixon & S. MoonThe handbook of secondary gifted education. Sourcebooks, Inc.

Kerr, B. A, & McKay, R. (2014). Smart Girls in the Twenty-First Century.

Kerr, B. A (2013). Career development for creatively gifted students -- What parents, teachers, and counselors need to know. In .In K. H. Kim, J. C. Kaufman, J.Baer, and B. Sriramen .(Eds.) Creatively Gifted Students Are Not Like Other Gifted Students: Research, Theory, and Practice. Rotterdam, Netherlands: SensePublishers, (171-186).

Kerr, B. A, Vuyk, M. A, & Rea, C. (2012). Gendered practices in the education of gifted girls and boys. Psychology in the Schools, 49(7), 647-655.

Kerr, B. A, Multon, K., Syme, M., Fry, N., Kurpius, S., & Hammond, M. (2012). Development of the Distance From Privilege Measures A Tool for Understanding the Persistence of Talented Women in STEM. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 30(1), 88-102.

Selected Grants

Kerr, Barbara A, (Principal), Ginther, Donna K, (Co-Principal), Friis, Elizabeth, (Co-Principal), From Imagination to Invention: Female Talent Development in Scientific Innovation, National Science Foundation, $972,854, Submitted 02/02/2015 (08/15/2015 - 08/14/2018). Federal. Status: Proposal Submitted.


Optimal human development and positive psychology, counseling of gifted and creative people, gender issues in counseling, spirituality.


Dept Number Course Name Syllabus
EPSY 580 Positive Psychology Syllabus
EPSY 740 Counseling and Interviewing Skills Syllabus
EPSY 842 Counseling Practicum Syllabus
EPSY 875 Multi-Cultural Counseling Syllabus
EPSY 948 Advanced Practicum I Syllabus
EPSY 998 Seminar In: _____ Syllabus


RT @KUSOEAdvising : Register today for the Dr. Bob Run on Sept.19 & get a ticket to the Baylor game!#KUHSES  #KUSOE ht…

The specialist program in school psychology is approved by the National Association of School Psychologists
School of Education is 10th among public universities for its master’s and doctoral programs
—U.S. News & World Report
Doctoral programs in school psychology and counseling psychology are accredited by the American Psychological Association
Involved in $22 million project to create new testing system for special education students
Robert Harrington is creating a certification program in bullying prevention for educators