Karen Prager

Professor - Interdisciplinary Studies

Professional Preparation

Ph.D. - Counseling Psychology
The University of Texas at Austin - 1977
M.A. - Educational Psychology
The University of Texas at Austin - 1975
B.A.
The University of Texas at Austin - 1973

Research Areas

Research Interests

The Couples Daily Lives Lab studies couple relationships.  We are currently exploring the factors that help couples recover emotionally from conflict and return to their normal moods and restore their intimate connection.  We began this research with the discovery that couples are more likely than not to experience negative mood and reduced intimacy into the day following a conflict (i.e., hours after the conflict).  We also discovered that many conflicts were not recognized by both partners as such, and are exploring factors that might contribute to this difference in perception, such as partners that hide their feelings or fail to persist with communicating their concerns.  We are exploring potentially moderating influences on the impact that conflict exerts on the couple partners.  We discovered that feeling anxious and insecure about a partner's devotion or emotional availability intensified some partners' difficulties with recovering from their conflicts.  We also discovered that a partner's behavior during the conflict, particularly if the partner withdrew, communicated contempt, or allowed the conflict to expand beyond the original problem, affected the speed and completeness of an individual's post-conflict recovery.  Further, a partner's dysfunctional conflict behavior could override any ameliorating effects exerted by a secure attachment to the partner.  When people withdrew or communicated contemptuously during conflict, their partners experienced more drastic changes in mood and more psychological distance from the other, especially if they felt secure in the relationship, perhaps because they were not accustomed to such behavior from their partners.  

We are currently collecting data in anticipation of studying further the couple behaviors and communication processes that predict rapid or complete recovery from conflicts.  We are examining the couple partners' ability to calm themselves during frustrating interactions and the extent to which they interfere with (or not) each other's autonomous decision-making and activities.  Finally, we are exploring person-relationship interactions to identify aspects of individual personalities that might affect couple partners' satisfaction with their relationships and ability to recover from conflict, such as self-worth, narcissism, interpersonal sensitivity, and individual well-being.

Publications

Recovery from conflict and revival of intimacy in couples.  Karen J. Prager, Forouz Shirvani, Jesse Poucher, Gustavo Cavallin, Michael Truong, and Jennifer J. Garcia 2015 - Publication
Karen J. Prager, The Dilemmas of Intimacy:  Conceptualization, Assessment, and Intervention.  New York:  Routledge. 2013 - Publication
Prager, K.J., Shirvani, F., Garcia, J.J., & Coles, M. (in press). Intimacy and positive psychology. In Hojjat, M. & Cramer, D.C. (Eds.). The Positive Psychology of Love. 2013 - Publication
Prager, K.J. (November, 2010).  Introduction to Intimacy-Oriented Therapy.  Workshop presented at the Annual Meeting, Texas Psychological Association, Dallas, Texas. 2010 - Publication
Prager, K.J. & Shirvani, F. (July, 2010).  An attachment theory perspective on couples’ emotional recovery from conflict.  Paper presented at the Annual Meeting, International Association for Relationship Research, Herzliya, Israel. 2010 - Publication
Prager, K.J. (2009).  Intimacy.  In Reis, H. & Sprecher, S. (Eds.) Encyclopedia of Human Relationships.  Thousand Oaks, CA:  Sage. 2009 - Publication
Prager, K.J. & Roberts, L.J. (2004). Deep intimate connection: Self and intimacy in couple relationships. In. Mashek, D. & Aron, A. (Ed.s)., The Handbook of Closeness and Intimacy. Lawrence Ehrlbaum. 2004 - Publication
Prager, K.J. (2002). Intimacy. Encyclopedia of Marriage and the Family. New York: MacMillon. 2002 - Publication
Lippert, T. & Prager, K.J. (2001). Daily experiences of intimacy: A study of couples. Personal Relationships, 8, 283-298. 2001 - Publication
Prager, K.J. (1999). The intimacy dilemma: A guide for couples therapists. In J. Carlson & L. Sperry, (Eds.), The Intimate Couple. (pp. 109-157). New York: Brunner/Mazel. 1999 - Publication

Appointments

Clinical Professor
The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center [1996–Present]
Program in Clinical Psychology
Professor
The University of Texas at Dallas [1996–Present]
Part-time Instructor
Lesley College, Cambridge, MA [1986–1989]
Assistant/Associate Professor and Special Counselor
The University of Texas at Dallas [1981–1996]
Licensed Psychologist
Part-time Private Practice [1980–Present]
Visiting Assistant Professor and Special Counselor
The University of Texas at Dallas [1979–1981]
Senior Clinician and Coordinator of Internship Program
Mental Health Center, Denville, New Jersey [1978–1979]
Counselor
Community College of Philadelphia [1977–1978]
Part-time Instructor
Rutgers: The State University of New Jersey at Camden, Camden, NJ [1977–1977]
Psychotherapist
Thomas Jefferson Medical College Community Mental Health Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania [1977–1978]

Projects

Intimacy-Oriented Couple Therapy.
1997–1997 Prager, K.J. (November, 1997). Workshop presented at the Annual Meeting, Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy, Miami, FL.
The Self-Other Inventory: A Couple-Focused Measure of Differentiation of Self.
2018–2018 Poucher, J., Prager, K.J., and Allam, Z. (October, 2014).  The Self-Other Inventory: A Couple-Focused Measure of Differentiation of Self.  Paper presented at the Annual Meeting, American Association for Marital and Family Therapy, Milwaukee, WI.
Contemptuous behavior during couples conflicts and attachment insecurity.
2013–2018 Truong, M. & Prager, K.J. (August, 2013). Contemptuous behavior during couples conflicts and attachment insecurity. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting, American Psychological Association, Honolulu, HA.
Attributions, attachment style, and conflict in couple relationships.
2012–2018 Cavallin, G.L. & Prager, K.J. (July, 2012).  Attributions, attachment style, and conflict in couple relationships.  Paper presented at the Annual Meeting, International Association for Relationship Research, Chicago, Ill.
Depressive Symptoms After Couple Conflict: Attachment Security and Contemptuous Conflict Behavior.
2018–2018  Patell, Juhi & Prager, K.J. (November, 2014).  Depressive Symptoms After Couple Conflict:  Attachment Security and Contemptuous Conflict Behavior.  Paper presented at the Annual Meeting, Texas Psychological Association. Dallas, Texas.

Additional Information

Professional and Community Service
Editorial Board Personal Relationships (1998-2000)
Official journal of the International Society for the Study of Personal Relationships

Ad Hoc Reviewer:
Journal of Family Psychology
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships
Motivation and Emotion
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Personal Relationships
Psychological Science
Psychology of Women Quarterly
Sex Roles: A Journal of Research

Various Committees: Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy; International Network for Personal Relationships; International Society for the Study of Personal Relationships

Proposal Reviewer: Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy
International Network on Personal Relationships
International Society for the Study of Personal Relationships

Oral Examiner: Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists

Bi-weekly Newspaper Column: On Relationships: Everyones An Expert, Dallas Morning News November 11, 1999 - August, 2000.

Pamphlet: With Gail A. Rekers, wrote and designed, "Faculty-student interactions: When does a good thing go too far?", published by the Dallas Psychological Association.

Television Appearance: Featured Speaker, "Sex Roles" episode in PBS' series "Focus on Society"

Speaker: Speaker's Bureaus: Dallas & Collin County Mental Health Associations, Dallas Psychological Association; numerous community lectures, discussion groups, and classes on successful relationships and other interpersonal and mental health topics

Current Board Memberships: American Board of Family Psychology, Beyt Midrash of North Texas  (new institute for adult Jewish learning), Temple Emanu-El of Dallas Board of Directors

Former Board Memberships:
 Citizens Development Center (rehabilitation and structured work center), NEXUS (substance abuse treatment center for women), Mental Health Association of Collin County (Advisory Board), Stretch for Greatness (fund-raising for Richardson School District).

Radio and Newspaper Interviews: Appeared on KERAs The Glenn Mitchell show in June, 2003, with Mary Howe to discuss her book A Baptist Among the Jews. In addition, I have given multiple interviews with local and state-wide news media, including the Dallas Morning News, Dallas Times Herald, KERA, KHYI Radio, etc. Book review for the Dallas Morning News, More about the Manson Family, August 24, 1980.

Whos Who of American Women: Biography appeared in 16th Edition.

Speaker/Instructor: Jewish

Community: Founder and Discussion Leader: On Women and By Women, a monthly reading and discussion group sponsored by the Commission on Women's Equality, American Jewish Congress and awarded the American Jewish Congress Torch of Conscience Award in February, 2001, for this service
Community lectures, on gender issues in Judaism and other religions, and related topics: Lectures in lecture series: for the UTD-United Nations Conference on the Rights of Women, 1997-1999; the Bridwell Library Lecture Series on Judaica, Southern Methodist University, 1999; the Speakers Corner of the annual Jewish Art Fest of Dallas (1997-1999); the American Jewish Committees Summer Flagship Series, 1999; UTD Gender Lecture series, 1997;1998; Temple Emanu-El Adult Education series, 1999; 2000, among others;
Individual lectures for synagogues, churches, and Jewish organizations, including: The Union of American Hebrew Congregations Regional Bienniel Conference, November, 2000; and Temple Emanu-El, Congregation Anshei Torah, St. Thomas Episcopal Church, St. Elizabeths Church, Congregation Beth Torah, Temple Shalom, the National Association of Jewish Women, the American Jewish Congress, the American Reform Zionists Association, Wilshire Baptist Church, 1st Methodist Church of Richardson.
Consultation, Training, and Administration
  • Program Head, Gender Studies Program, The University of Texas at Dallas
  • Supervise ongoing curriculum development, course offerings, selection of instructional faculty, periodic program reviews, and Gender Studies Lecture Series.
  • Designed and wrote program proposal, web-page, and brochure for new Gender Studies Program
  • Interim Director, Carolyn Lipshy Galerstein Women's Center, The University of Texas at Dallas
  • Interim College Master (Undergraduate Advisor), School of General Studies, The University of Texas at Dallas
  • Provided training seminars for mental health professionals in counseling skills, team-building, communication skills, crisis intervention.
  • Conducted organizational assessments, and provided team-building and training experiences for Dallas area businesses.
  • Designed, implemented, and administered Psychology Internship Program at comprehensive, hospital based community mental health center.
University Service

Program Head:

  • Gender Studies Program
  • School of General Studies


Selected Associations and Committees:

  • University of Texas System-wide committees
  • The University of Texas Chancellor's Committee on Periodic Review of Tenured Faculty
  • The University of Texas Chancellor's Committee on the Advancement of Women


University of Texas at Dallas committees:

  • Academic (Faculty) Council and Senate
  • Advisory Board, Carolyn Galerstein Women's Center
  • Association of Professional Women at UTD (President, 3 years)
  • Core Committee on the Advancement of Women and Minorities
  • Council on Teacher Education
  • Committee on Qualifications of Academic Personnel (faculty review and promotion)
  • Chair, Ad Hoc Committee on Institutional Standards
  • Faculty Handbook Committee (Chairperson, 2 years)
  • Chair, Gender Studies Curriculum Development Committee
  • Health Professions Advisory Committee
  • Internal Review Board (Human Subjects) (Chairperson, 3 years)
  • Senate Committee on Parking and Security
  • Senate Committee on University Computing Facilities and Policies
  • Undergraduate Requirements Committee
  • University Accreditation Committee
  • University Committee on Undergraduate Curriculum
  • Various Ad Hoc Faculty Hiring, Review, and Promotion Committees
  • Phi Theta Kappa Faculty Advisor
  • Women Students' Association, Faculty Advisor
     

Funding

"The Interaction of Depression and Relationship Discord
- National Institute of Mental Health [1989–2018]
Intimacy development and conflict resolution in couples
- National Institute of Mental Health [1985–1986]
Intimacy Status and Self-Disclosure in Couples
- Organized Research Grant, The University of Texas at 1984-1985 Dallas [1984–1985]
Intimacy Status and Self-Disclosure to Strangers and Friends
- Organized Research Grant, The University of Texas at Dallas [1982–1983]
"The Development of the Capacity for Intimacy: A Retrospective Study
- Biomedical Research Support Grant Award, The 1981,1982 University of Texas at Dallas [1981–1982]