Loyola University Chicago

School of Social Work

Faculty & Staff Directory

Katherine Tyson McCrea, PhD

Title/s: Full Professor; PI, Empowering Counseling Program

Specialty Area: Mental health and social services for severely disadvantaged children and youth; global social work; participatory action research; practitioner-relevant approaches to research

Office #: Maguire Hall 566

Phone: 312.915.7028

E-mail: ktyson@luc.edu

CV Link: Tyson Resume 2016

Mission in Action

Social workers for the future need to be prepared for contexts that are increasingly global, meaning enriched with cross-cultural communication, interacting with people crossing borders, and facing obstacles and opportunities that are global in scope. Unfortunately, the exciting aspects of globalization are accompanied by increasing inequality, meaning social workers’ roles as partners and advocates become ever more important. Social work education can be transformative as we enable students to move past obstacles of ethnocentrism and other ‘isms’ and form partnerships globally and locally to advance social justice. It is a great pleasure to help this to happen through the international courses I teach and through direct practice and research about practice. We partner with clients in a participatory research process that advances their human capital and enables them to develop scientific knowledge about themselves and their social services. We also enable students to tackle the complexities of working with people facing profound poverty and, through their compassion and skill, to offer hope grounded in advancing clients’ choices and self-determination.


Recognized as a Master Teacher by the Council on Social Work Education since 1994, Professor Tyson McCrea developed social work curriculum about child treatment, philosophy of research, and global social work practice. A Fulbright Senior Specialist, she taught seminars for social workers from the U.S. and abroad (Korea, Lithuania, Italy, Greece, Finland, and Thailand), in-person and through video-conference methods. The founding Editor-in-Chief of Illinois Child Welfare, she developed the journal so that it has become international and multidisciplinary, with a practice-oriented emphasis (see www.illinoischildwelfare.org). Since 2006 she has been the Principal Investigator for the participatory-action–based Empowering Counseling Program (ECP), which provides clinical social work and after-school services (see http://www.standuphelpout.org and more recently, Saving Lives Inspiring Youth) for disadvantaged children and youth in Chicago's high-poverty, high-crime communities. The Empowering Counseling Program has received over $500,000 in funding from After School Matters, the Illinois Violence Prevention Program, the McCormick Tribune Foundation, and the Gabe W. Miller Memorial Foundation. The ECP has educated 43 masters and doctoral level social workers, and served over 500 disadvantaged children and youth. ECP research has yielded two dissertations, numerous journal articles, and local, national, and international presentations. As Empowering Counseling Program PI, Prof. McCrea is a Co-Principal Investigator, in partnership with Prof. and PI Maryse Richard's Risk and Resilience Lab, in a $1 million Department of Justice award, studying the development of resilience via cross-age mentoring for youth living in high-poverty, high-crime Chicago communities.


B.A. (magna cum laude with Honors) and M.Div. degrees from Yale University

M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration


Program Areas

Courses Currently Teaching/Teaching Areas:

Global Social Work: Practice to Advance Peace and Social Justice
Participatory Action and Qualitative Research to Advance Social Justice
Clinical Social Work Practice with Children
Social Work Practice with Individuals and Families
The Nature of Clinical Knowledge (Doctoral Program)

Research Interests

1) Improving clinical social work models for traumatized, disadvantaged children and youth,

2) The development of compassion in disadvantaged youth through processes such as cross-age mentoring,

3) Global social work with a focus on child welfare, and

4) Participatory action research.

Professional & Community Affiliations

  1. Partnership with Professor Maryse Richards’ Risk and Resilience Lab, Loyola University of Chicago
  2. Global Partnership for Transformative Social Work, Board of Directors
  3. Partnership with Vytautas Magnus University School of Social Work, Kaunas, Lithuania

Courses Taught

Participatory Action and Qualitative Research

Global Social Work

Clinical Social Work with Children

The Nature of Clinical Knowledge


Doctorate, Honoris causa, from Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas, Lithuania, June, 2015.

Certificate of recognition, Klaipeda University School of Social Work, Klaipeda, Lithuania.

Rector’s Prize, University of Lodz, Lodz, Poland, for book chapter, “’I’m a leader of all of them to tell the truth’: Participatory action principles for uplifting research partners’ identities.” In Anita Gulczyńska and Mariusz Granosik (Eds.).  Empowerment: Diagnosis - Reflection – Activity Orientations in Social Work. University of Lodz, Poland. WYG International Publications.


Selected Publications

Stokar H., Davis, L., Sinha, B., Jamison, A., Lamarca, L., and McCrea, K. Tyson. (in press). “’Love your Love Life’: Disadvantaged African-American youth co-create services for their sexual and romantic health.”  Social Work: The Journal of the National Association of Social Workers.

McCrea, K. Tyson, Guthrie, Deanna, and Bulanda, J. (2016). “When traumas are not past, but now: Psychosocial treatment to develop resilience with children and youth enduring complex, concurrent trauma.” Journal of Child and Adolescent Trauma, 9, 1, 5-18. DOI 10.1007/s40653-015-0060-1.  Part of a special issue entitled, Resilience-based Interventions for Children & Adolescents Exposed to Trauma. Maryse Richards, Ph.D., Becky Sanderson, Ph.D., Greg Lewis, Ph.D. (Eds.).


McCrea, K. Tyson. (2014).  “’I’m a leader of all of them to tell the truth’: Participatory action principles for uplifting research partners’ identities.” In Anita Gulczyńska and Mariusz Granosik (Eds.).  Empowerment: Diagnosis - Reflection – Activity Orientations in Social Work. University of Lodz, Poland. WYG International Publications.


Guthrie, D., Ellison, V., Sami, K., and McCrea, K. Tyson.  (2014). “Clients’ hope arises from social workers’ compassion:  Young clients’ perspectives on surmounting the obstacles of disadvantage.” Families in Society 95 (2). Doi: 10.1606/1044-3894.2014.95.14.


McCrea, K. Tyson.  (2014). “‘How does that itsy bitsy spider do it?’: Severely traumatized children’s development of resilience in psychotherapy.” Journal of Infant, Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy, 13 (2).  89-109. ID: 905319 DOI:10.1080/15289168.2014.905319.


McCrea, Katherine Tyson (2014). “’Where’s beebee?’  The orphan crisis in global child welfare from an autoethnographic perspective.”  In S. Witkin (Ed.). Narrating Social Work Through Autoethnography. New York: Columbia University Press.


Bulanda, J., Szarzynski, K., Silar, D., and McCrea, K. Tyson. (2013). “’Keeping it Real’: An evaluation audit of five years of youth-led program evaluation.”  Smith College Studies in Social Work, 83: 2-3: 279-302.  Doi: 10.1080/00377317.2013.802936.


Bulanda, J. and McCrea, K. Tyson. (2012 online, in print, 2013).  “The promise of an accumulation of care: Disadvantaged African-American youths’ perspectives about what makes an after school program meaningful.” Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 30, 95-118.  Doi: 10.1007/s10560-012-0281-1.


Recent Presentations:

Presentation. Moore, A., Davis, L., Tyson McCrea, K., and Richards, M.. “Nowhere to Turn to be Safe”: Deepening the understanding of community violence based on disadvantaged youths’ perspectives. Society for Social Work Research. January 16, 2016. Washington, DC.

Lecture, “To Dare to Learn Together Over the Seas: Insights from a 9-year International Partnership in Videoconference Teaching of a Peace-Building Global Social Work,” with Jonas Ruskus, Violeta Ivanauskiene, and Daiva Kuzmickaite. Social Work Distance Education Conference, University of Indiana at Indianapolis, April 13, 2015.

“Optimizing Service Responsiveness to Children and Youth Suffering Multiple Adverse Events.” Invited Presentation for Secretaries Innovation Group, a group of Republican Secretaries of Health and Human Services in the Governors’ cabinets representing 14 states. June 24, 2015.

“Attachment Disorders and Trauma Treatment Models for Serving Social Work Clients.” Presentation for 60 social workers in diverse practice contexts in Lithuania. Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas, Lithuania. June 17, 2015.

 Lecture, “Love your Love Life:  Co-creating a Best Practices Program Empowering Black Youths’ Healthy Romantic and Sexual Decision-Making.” American Family Therapy Association Conference: “Coupling Today: Love, Parenting, Community.” Chicago, June 7, 2013.

 “Choosing Compassion:  How Severely Disadvantaged African-American Youth Prefer the Good.”  Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas, Lithuania, June 18, 2012.  Invited University-wide lecture. Available at: http://www.vdu.lt/lt/naujienos/socialinio-darbo-prof-k-tyson-mccrea-jav-paskaita.

‘“The Flow that Pushes You’:  Compassion (myötätunto) as Defined by Courageous, Disadvantaged Youth.” Invited Lecture, International Summer School, co-sponsored by University of Vermont and University of Lapland (Finland), Department of Social Services, May 25, 2011.