G. E. Kawika Allen

New professor joins the counseling psychology program in the McKay School

Kawika Allen

There was a brief time early in Dr. G. E. Kawika Allen’s undergraduate education when he was somewhat disinterested in his studies. Allen wanted to heal people but found the anatomy and biology classes of traditional medicine did not interest him as much. Searching for a new academic niche, he discovered counseling psychology and decided to become a doctor who assists individuals with psychological difficulties.

Years after that pivotal decision, Allen now brings his expertise to the McKay School of Education as an assistant professor in the Counseling Psychology and Special Education Department. He is conducting research and teaching courses in the counseling psychology PhD program.

Allen received his bachelor’s degree in organizational communication and master’s degree in counseling from the University of Utah. He then received his doctorate degree in counseling psychology at the University of Missouri (a top-ranked university in his field) and in conjunction with his PhD degree continued on to Duke University and completed a pre-doctoral clinical internship. Before coming to BYU, Allen taught for two years in the psychology program at Southern Utah University.

Allen’s main research interest is multicultural psychology, emphasizing Polynesian psychological processes, which he has been studying for the last ten years. He shares how rewarding and humbling it is to contribute to underrepresented and deserving communities in academic and multicultural literature. “I think there is a great need for multicultural research,” Allen remarked. “I think it’s important for students to expand their interests into these areas where racial/ethnic diverse groups are sometimes marginalized, underserved, and may not have a voice in our literature.”

Having never experienced the BYU environment as a student, Allen was impressed by some of the benefits BYU provides. While working in his office, he was startled yet pleasantly surprised to hear Love At Home sung by a class across the hall. “What a beautiful environment to work in.” But beyond the atmosphere of campus, Allen says BYU enhances research possibilities. “One of the main things BYU offers is the academic freedom to express yourself religiously,” Allen said, “not only in classes and among your colleagues but in your research. The type of research that I do often intersects multiculturalism, religion, spirituality, and psychotherapy.”

In his free time, Allen enjoys reading, watching movies with his family, training for triathlons, and playing a variety of sports. He jests that one of his greatest accomplishments is unrelated to his career. “Of all the accolades, awards, and degrees I’ve received up to this point, nothing compares to my head coach position for my fifth grade son’s football team.”

He and his wife met at the University of Utah, and they have five children, most of whom were born while he was receiving his advanced degrees. Allen says the family is grateful for the sacrifices they made and he is especially grateful to his wife who supported him throughout his academic pursuits. “It was difficult, but we are glad we did it because now we are able to experience the benefits from that hard work together.”