5 Questions with Ilyana Romanovsky

choosing therapy

Last week I posted a review of Ilyana Romanovsky’s book Choosing Therapy.  Today Ms. Romanovsky is here answering 5 questions. Welcome!

Dr. S: You obviously spent a lot of time researching this book as it provides the most thorough description of seeking and participating in therapy that I have ever read. Was there a certain instance or situation that led to you writing this book?

I.R.: The book actually began with patients scheduling appointments, coming in and telling their stories.  Many had no idea about the process of therapy or what to expect from a therapist.  Many also had negative experiences with therapy, having devoted a lot of time and money to no tangible results.  Naturally, some stories were probably among the most emotionally grueling experiences I had heard, with people investing a fortune into psychotherapy and coming out of the experience having gained very little, feeling demoralized and believing that they were beyond help.  It was humbling and horrifying to realize that the stories some patients recounted left them questioning the efficacy behind psychotherapy.  Some even walked away sure of their own personal failures at being unable to achieve results they wanted.

So why did I set out to write Choosing Therapy? In part, because after one particular intake, my patient suggested that someone should write a book to educate the consumer about the process of psychotherapy, so that everyone is in a position to make an informed decision about therapy and the type of treatment that they are seeking.  But the other reason I wanted to write the book is because I know what it is like, as a consumer, to want to dip my toe into something new without understanding the process, and feeling the need for a book, a class or advice that could guide me through the maze of a new venture.

Dr. S: What got you interested in the mental health profession in the first place?

I.R.: The road to a mental health career was a lengthy one for me.  Originally, I had started out as a biologist at the University of Chicago, aspiring to become an M.D.  As I spent months and years in hospitals and labs conducting clinical research and interacting with patients, I realized that what I wanted to do most was help people figure out how they could manage better the parts of their lives that were not working well, and move them towards a more satisfying place.  On a more selfish note, I also enjoy working for myself, and knew early on that I wanted autonomy and ability to see clinical treatment through from beginning to end in an outpatient, private practice setting.

Dr. S: There is a lot of information in your book, if there is one thing – the most important tip – you would like your readers to take away from it, what would that be?

I.R.: One thing? No way. I would recommend the reader approach the process of psychotherapy the same way one would approach looking for a job.  It is a personal journey that requires research, interviews and a well thought out treatment plan with your therapist as to how you will accomplish your objectives.  Let me put it this way, plopping on the couch and hoping that the first therapist you meet will facilitate the process of treatment in such a manner that you can relate to, is almost unrealistic.  Psychotherapy in my mind is the most inner-personal journey one can take with another, and requires a meticulous, well-informed approach.
Dr. S: I often write about stress and creative ways to manage it. We all know about yoga, taking walks, etc…but what are some of the more creative ways you manage your stress?

I.R.: Amazingly, through writing.  There are only a few things that I enjoy more than writing.  At times, I need it the same way I need food for energy.  It can even be a preventative for managing my own sadness or stressors with life.  Interestingly enough, I began writing Choosing Therapy after a difficult life transition, and can say without a doubt that writing helped me stay energized, be creative and play around with ideas in my head that I then got to share with others.  Ideas are not always flowing and that can be frustrating, which is why I also enjoy hiking, mountain biking and running.  Some form of physical exercise is important to me as a tension release when by world of ideas is on pause.

Dr. S: What are you working on now? Any new books in the works?

I.R.: I am tossing a few things over in my head and will probably write again fairly soon.   When I juggle the next project in my  mind, I have to push forward and rewind a number of times before I have a good story or an idea.  I figure out what I need to know research wise, and gear up for the next adventure.  I will start writing when I have a great book cover design or a catchy first line.  In the meantime, I am busy working through the licensure process and delineating my interests to obtain a research PhD in the field.

To learn more about Choosing Therapy, check it out here.


Book Review: Depression and Your Child

Depression and Your Child

Dr. Deborah Serani is one of my favorite psychologists. Not only does she maintain a fun, hip social media presence, she also writes an informative and popular blog.  Oh, and that’s in addition to working as a clinical psychologist and professor. Earlier this year I reviewed her book, Living with Depression – which I absolutely loved.  Here’s a bit of that review:

There have been other psychologists who have written about their own struggles with mental illness, but I found Dr. Serani’s candid admissions and forthcoming attitude about her mental health history to be not only refreshing but intriguing. I found myself wishing she had written more about herself and her family (full disclosure: While Dr. Serani and I have never met in “real” life, we have had several conversations via social media in the last few years).  And while it’s been done before, integrating personal and professional knowledge about depression made the whole book a quick and informative read.

Check out the whole review here.

Because of my feelings about her first book, I was thrilled to learn that she was working on a new book.  I was even more thrilled when a brand new copy of Depression and Your Child arrived in my mailbox!

As with her first book, Dr. Serani includes personal experiences in this book, recounting her own childhood memories of struggling with depression.  It was equally fascinating and heartbreaking to read about her lack of energy and interest in the world as a result of her low mood.  More importantly, it helped me understand how depression feels as a small kid in a big world – and how it varies from depression in adults.

But this isn’t just an autobiography – at its heart it is a handbook for parents (and really anyone who loves, works with or is around kids).   Teachers, health care providers, grandparents and babysitters will all find this book useful as it explains, in readable language, why depression occurs, and how it can feel once it has set in (hint: it isn’t just about sadness and crying).  The book also outlines (in a non-judgmental way) options for treatment, including psychotherapy, medication, and lifestyle changes (food, exercise, etc).  And Dr. Serani goes even further to describe not just the treatments available but also how and why they work.

None of us want to consider that there are children among us who struggle with feelings of hopelessness, sadness or a desire to end their lives.  Unfortunately some do.  And Dr. Serani’s book will serve as a manual for those helping kids through these most difficult times.

To learn more about Depression and Your Child, or to order a copy, click here


A Psychologist’s Take on Leaning In

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I’m going to do it: I’m going to join the throng and add my two cents about the much-talked-about the book Lean In.  First a little back story:

Sheryl Sandberg is the COO of Facebook.  She is extraordinarily successful on many fronts: financially, professionally, socially, and it seems from her book that she also has a happy, loving family (she is married and has two youngish kids).  Ms. Sandberg decided to write this book after giving a series of talks  about why women haven’t achieved more in the highest levels of business and government.  Take a look at her TED talk.

It seems like she was hoping this book would allow her a platform to flush out her ideas about “women, work, and the will to lead” more thoroughly.  Some are calling this book a new “feminist manifesto,” a modern day Vindication of the Rights of Women (I love that book!) or the Feminine Mystique (I like that one, too).

Here’s the thing: a beautifully written call to arms to American women this book is not.  It’s not a highly-intellectualized, academic work about the role of women either.  In fact, it is a super-readable, totally understandable book that outlines, chapter by chapter, the things that women (and men) do to keep true equality in the workplace from being realized.  More specifically, why women aren’t “sitting at the table” in more board rooms and places of real power.

There were a few things I loved about this book:

  • I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  For the few days I was reading this book I found myself thinking about it while I was reading it, in the morning when I woke up, and while I was eating my sandwich at lunch.  It wasn’t that I was eager to get back to reading it, it’s just that it really made me think.  Unfortunately I was never really able to articulate what it was making me think about, or what I really thought about her message.  It is a rare thing for me to be tongue-tied, but this book left me just that.  What does that mean exactly? I’m not sure, but I do know that if people are talking/thinking about your work you must be doing something right.
  • Her passion.  Ms. Sandberg clearly has a passion for women and leadership.  Her energy and dedication to her own professional achievement, and now the achievement of other women is impressive.  While I’m not convinced that her book will spark another wave of feminism, I think hers is an important voice in our culture right now.  I am hopeful that young women will read her book and consider her ideas.
  • Her sound bites.  Ms. Sandberg offers up a few motivational passages that reportedly hang on the office walls of Facebook.  My favorite: Done is better than perfect.  So many of us get hung up on perfection (which of course is elusive) that we don’t get much done.  Ms. Sandberg is clearly someone who gets LOTS done, and it’s nice to know that she doesn’t expect perfection.
  • Her honesty.  While reading the first two-thirds of the book, I kept wondering when she was going to talk about dealing with other women.  Meaning: the moms in the school drop-off line who think she is a b*$#ch and a terrible mom.  I can hear the parking lot posse now: “She’s never home!” “She’s so full of herself” and “Why did she even bother to have kids if she’s not going to be the one to raise them?”  Finally, on page 167 she writes about this issue:

Stay-at-home mothers can make me feel guilty and, at times, intimidate me.  There are moments when I feel like they are judging me, and I imagine there are moments when they feel like I am judging them.  But when I push past my own feelings of guilt and insecurity, I feel grateful.  These parents – mostly mothers – constitute a large amount of the talent that helps sustain our schools, nonprofits, and communities.

There was something I didn’t love about this book, too:

  • It made me tired.  This just about sums up my feeling about the book as a whole.  The entire time I was reading it I felt tired and like a huge slacker.  Ms. Sandberg has clearly accomplished a lot professionally, and has done so through hard work and long hours.  She wants to see other women do this too.  She wants us “sitting at the table” and participating more equally at the highest levels of business and government.  I whole-heartedly agree.  The only problem was that I was so worn out just by reading her book, I was left with zero energy to change the world into a better place.  I am pretty sure that Ms. Sandberg wouldn’t accept tiredness as an excuse for not “leaning in” to my career, or not helping other women do so; unfortunately it’s all I’ve got.

When I asked a colleague whether she had read “Lean In,” she replied no, that she needed to do more “leaning out” in her life.  I didn’t ask her what she meant because I think I already know.  So many of us women (and men, to be fair) are so busy working, caring for children and parents, volunteering, exercising, paying bills, and squeezing in a few hours sleep that changing the gender dynamics around us just falls off the to-do list.

As I was really starting to feel lousy about how little I do in comparison to Ms. Sandberg in the fight for gender equality, I received this email from her “team” in response to an interview request I sent:

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Looks like Ms. Sandberg does a little leaning out, too.



To read more about Lean In, Ms. Sandberg’s non-profit dedicated to supporting women click here.







5 Questions with Lori Gottlieb

I am thrilled to have the author of Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough here today to answer some questions! I recently reviewed Lori Gottlieb’s book, and am thrilled she agreed to share more about the creation of the book with us.  Welcome, Ms. Gottlieb!

Dr. S.: “Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough” is a catchy title, but I didn’t think the title was truly reflective of the book’s message. What were some alternate titles? Something else you wish it were called?Screen shot 2013-03-26 at 3.19.07 PM

L.G.: Unfortunately, I didn’t get to choose the title, and I so wish that it accurately reflected the hopeful message of the book, which is about how to find lasting, passionate love.  The book has absolutely nothing to do with lowering one’s standards or “settling.”  In fact, the book is about having very high standards — extremely high standards — but having high standards about the things that matter for long-term, happy marriages, and letting go of the trivial things that don’t.  In Marry Him, I talk to experts who study relationships and marriage from different perspectives — psychologists, behavioral economists, sociologists, neurobiologists, matchmakers, historians, couples counselors, dating coaches, you name it — then I write about their findings and try them out myself, like a dating guinea pig.  What matters for lasting love?  What doesn’t?  Why do we often pick partners who seem fantastic when we first meet them only to discover that they aren’t right for us — and how might we have seen this more clearly from the beginning?  How can we be more conscious about choosing great partners, especially when we’re young enough to have the most available options?  How do our cultural messages about expectations for love sometimes lead us to make decisions that won’t necessarily make us happy?  What does “true love” really mean?  What keeps people in love?

Dr. S.: Your book doesn’t have a traditional happy ending.  Was it tough (in either your mind, or the mind of your publisher) to end the book without a big wedding?

L.G.: I think it has a very happy ending, and a real happy ending.  I talk about this in Marry Him, but the “traditional” happy endings we often see in movies involve that final wedding scene, and then we just assume that this couple that has been bickering for the past 90 minutes will go on to be compatible and happy for the rest of their lives.  Look at Hollywood marriages — they don’t tend to end up that way.

As I say in the book, I’ve never dreamed about my wedding. I would dream about being happily married:  Who’s the guy?  What is our daily life like?  What is it like to grow old with this person, to share life’s great adventures with this person, to create a memorable history together, to raise children together, to run a household together, to bring out the best in each other while accepting the worst in each other, to witness each other’s great pleasures in life and be there for each other’s difficult failures or disappointments, to make each other laugh and continue to surprise each other even as time goes on, to know somebody that well over decades and be known that well in turn?  Marriage is a very rich, complex, challenging experience; it’s not about the big wedding day and who do you want to go to Tahiti with for the week.

Anyone can have a wedding.  Marry Him is about finding the right person to go through life with.  One expert in the book says, “There’s no perfect partner; there’s the perfect partner for you.”  So the happy endings in the book are all the stories of the women who used the tools in Marry Him to find to find their perfect partner.  And for me, the happy ending was that while I learned these lessons much later than I would have liked to — my point in the book is that young women will save themselves a lot of heartache and have a much easier time finding love if they learn these lessons early on — I did, finally, learn them.  At the end of the book, I acknowledged that it would be far more challenging to date in my forties than it had been to date in my twenties and thirties (a reality that women need to be aware of), but I also felt that I had a much better chance of meeting the right person now that I’d gained this insight.  I suppose if I were to write a post-script to the book, I’d let readers know that, eventually, I did meet somebody great.  And if I’d dated the way I had before researching and writing Marry Him, I might have missed out on the opportunity to be with this person whom I’m so lucky to have in my life on a daily basis.  But in the book, I follow several women on their dating journeys, and for the ones who take the advice and really examine their old patterns, their endings are very happy, too.

Dr. S.: If you were to give relationship/marriage/commitment advice to a young woman just entering the dating pool, what would be your #1 piece of advice?

I wish it were that easy, that I could give the magic answer and poof — that’s how you find love!  I think that all of the advice in Marry Him needs to be taken together to really help people get clear and to realize that they have far more control over how their dating lives are going than they think.  That said, if I had to pick one general idea, it would be that many people treat dating like ordering a  meal at a restaurant. They want to order up a person a la carte: I’ll take a little of this, more of that, less of the other, and please leave the annoying habit or less-than-ideal physical feature on the side.  But a person comes as he or she comes.  There are “no substitutions” at this restaurant.  It’s not your partner’s job to be everything you want at all times.  That’s impossible.  One expert in the book said to me, “Lori, instead of making a list of all the things you want in a guy, I want you make a list of everything a guy would have to put up with, in order to spend his life with you.”  Our girlfriends are always telling us how fabulous we are, and while we all have many appealing qualities, we’re also as flawed as the next person.  That exercise — writing down what a guy would have to compromise on if he wanted to spend his life with me — really made me see things differently!

Dr. S.: What are you working on these days? Any new books we can look forward to?

I’m working on a piece for The Atlantic about sex in marriage!  I also have a private practice and do relationship consulting at www.lorigottliebtherapy.com.
Dr. S.:  One of the things I often write about in my blog is stress management. We all know that yoga and meditation are great, but I am more interested in unique and creative methods of stress management.  What do you do to relieve stress?

This might sound corny, but I do in life what I suggest people do in Marry Him.  I focus on the important things that I’m grateful for and I let the small things go.  I don’t mean that I’m a Pollyanna.  It’s more that when life’s challenges present themselves — and they always will — I remember that I have all kinds of choices. I can choose to be stressed over minor things or I can choose to put my energy elsewhere.   It’s completely up to me how I react to a particular situation, big or small.  It’s really about having perspective — am I running from the bears and about to be devoured, or is this just disappointing (and the disappointment will pass) or a nuisance that I’ll have to deal with temporarily?  It doesn’t take the stress away completely, but it does make things feel far less overwhelming than they would be if I didn’t slow myself down, access my more objective self, and see the situation for what it is.  I find that having that kind of perspective makes daily life so much more relaxing.

To learn more about Lori Gottlieb, check out her website. To order Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough, or read some of her other work, click here. Thanks again!

Book Review: Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough

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How funny to be reviewing Lori Gottlieb’s book: Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough the day after posting this article on avoiding affairs.  I’m sure there is some deep-seated psychological meaning behind that.  Instead of focusing on my psyche, however, I will turn my attention to Ms. Gottlieb’s book.  Here goes:

I want to start by saying that I consider Ms. Gottlieb a colleague after working with her on this article in the New York Times about therapists and marketing.  In addition to being a fine author and journalist, she is also a therapist herself.  She recently told me that she particularly enjoys working with couples.  Check out her site here.

As for the book, apparently it made a splash when it was released a couple of years ago.  And it isn’t hard to tell why: the title is quite an attention grabber.  Unfortunately, I’m not sure the title is consistent with the book, as it isn’t actually about “settling” – as in marrying someone you don’t like, find irritating, or aren’t attracted to.  Instead, it’s a fun-to-read description on Ms. Gottlieb’s own journey in the dating world.

In the book, Ms. Gottlieb is candid about what it’s like to date in all ages and stages of life (with kids and without, never married and divorced, as a 20-something, and as a 40-something).  As someone who married young, it was a real eye-opener for me to read about the realities of the dating pool past college.  I particularly enjoyed the commentary made by some of the older women she interviewed.  Reading their perspectives on what women experience, put up with, and expect now – versus when they were dating – is one of the highlights of the book.

I did find myself feeling frustrated by the entitled attitude of some of the younger women included in the book.  These are women who expect perfection, devotion, loyalty, and passion from the men they are interested in – yet seem to have no appreciation for what they should, do, or can bring to the relationship.  Fairness, equality and compromise don’t seem to be concepts these women understand.  No wonder their relationships don’t ever seem to work out.

For added perspective, I had my mom read the book.  Here are some of her comments:

In regards to having an attitude of entitlement in romantic partners:

I devoured the book even though I didn’t personally relate to it at all.  I am always shocked at how entitled some people think they are – it must be a difficult way to live life because it seems it would be challenging to maintain friendships, jobs, and relationships when all you can focus on is “what’s in it for me”.

In regards to making a list of desirable qualities in a mate (something Ms. Gottlieb does in the beginning of the book):

I can’t imagine making a list of “wants” in a husband and actually sticking to it.  It’s a good idea to list life goals, vacations you want to go on, clothes you need, etc. – putting those constraints on a human being is beyond my comprehension.  Besides, when you meet a person as a potential husband – that person will likely be quite different after several years of marriage.  The book was fascinating reading.

After finishing the book, I was left with a desire to make a list of my own.  Not of the qualities I would want in a mate, but the qualities that might make me a good mate myself.  I wonder which would be longer?

Thanks, Lori Gottlieb, for introducing me to your book! Click here to buy Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough.


5 Questions with Dr. Deborah Serani

A couple of weeks ago I reviewed the book Living with Depression by Dr. Deborah Serani. I thought the book was spot-on in terms of offering a comprehensive look at depression, its causes, its treatments, and what it might be like to live with the disorder in the long term.  The author, Dr. Deborah Serani (who is not only the book’s author, but also a clinical psychologist in private practice, a professor, and a popular blogger – whew!) agreed to answer a few questions for me.  Welcome, Dr. Serani!

Dr. Deborah Serani - psychologist extraordinaire

Dr. Deborah Serani – psychologist extraordinaire

Dr. S:  You include a lot of personal information in this book. Can you talk a little about your decision-making process in terms of including so much detail about yourself? What have been the positive and negative effects of such disclosure?

Dr. D: Society gives permission to high profile people to talk about mental illness, but the waters are still rough for ordinary people to talk about depression. It’s important to be wise and thoughtful about disclosure – and I thought long and hard about sharing my experiences with depression for a few years before actually doing it.  Essentially, it was easier for me to be outspoken about living with depression because I’m my own boss. I have my own practice. I don’t have to worry about some social fallout or losing my job. But there are many people that need to keep certain issues private because stigma still makes living with mental illness a difficult subject to talk about. When making the decision to talk about my life, I knew I had to really lay it all out. I didn’t want to gloss over the despair and the scariness of my depression – or that it was a super easy journey for me to get well. For me, the disclosure has brought very positive experiences. I like seeing how my story inspires others not to be ashamed of their illness, to get help and to have hope. I like teaching misinformed person about the real facts about depression. And nothing makes me feel more proud than when I exceed someone’s expectations of what a person with mental illness should be like.
Dr. S: How does your struggle with depression make you a better psychologist?

Dr. D: You don’t have to live through something to be a good therapist, but living with depression has taught me about how hard it is to endure pain, despair and helplessness. I also know how a good treatment plan and hard work with a therapist can lead to recovery and remission of depression. From knowing both sides of the coin, my experiences have led me to be a more compassionate person, and a more compassionate psychologist.

Dr. S: You have a popular blog, in addition to this award-winning book. Who is your main audience? How do you hope to impact people by your writings?

Dr. D: I started my blog back in early 2004 when blogging first launched, and slowly found it a great way to teach and reach others regarding psychology. I have always written my blog for a general audience, wanting to make sure it wasn’t too clinical or jargon-filled.  Blogging has become less in the forefront for me these days, what with faster social media tools out there like Twitter, Linked In and Facebook.  But as with all my social media, I hope that others take the articles, research and observations I note and use them personally to better their life.

Dr. S: In my blog I write a lot about creative stress management. Whether it’s baking cakes, watching Gossip Girl, or playing backgammon – I believe that there are many avenues to healthy (and effective!) stress management. What do you do to keep stress at bay?

Dr. D: I love how you join creativity with managing stress on your blog. The way that you present these strategies in your posts makes taking care of yourself fun and easy. I am a very creative person too, and I use many fun ways to help soften the hard edges of life. I’m a huge foodie, always trying out new recipes, and cooking and baking to de-stress. I like to play board games with family and friends, the sillier the better. Apples to Apples, Balderdash and Trivial Pursuit always bring the laughs.  I also do a lot of painting, drawing and writing and find those expressive arts a tremendous stress-buster. I love surfing through Pinterest and Indulgy to find motivational sayings, and find the visual aspect of those activities really soothes my soul.

Dr. S: Do you have any new projects in the works? Can we look forward to future books?

Dr. D: I am finishing my second book “How to Parent a Depressed Child,” which will be published in late 2013 by Rowman & Littlefield.  My hope is that it will be a go-to resource for parents who need guidance in raising a child with a mood disorder. Early diagnosis and intervention can make the depressive experience less intense for a child – and well, I’m all over that!

Thanks for your thoughtful answers, Dr. Serani! To order Living with Depression click here.  To read Dr. Serani’s blog, Dr. Deb, go here.

Book Review: Working Parents Thriving Families

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A few things before I start this review:

1. I typically don’t care for parenting books.  They tend to be preachy, too complicated, and make me feel like a lousy parent after reading them.  Read more about my thoughts on parenting books here.

2.  Dr. David Palmiter, the author of Working Parents, Thriving Families, is a colleague of mine so I’m not totally un-biased when it comes to this review.  With that said, one of the reasons he is a colleague is that I consider him an excellent psychologist and teacher.

3.  I have read this book a couple of times.  The first time was so I could write a quick review to go into the book.  The second time was for this blog – so I consider myself a real expert on this book! To read my review (along with a bunch of others), click here.

OK, with that stuff out of the way, here we go:

While I’m not sure if the “Working” in the title refers to parents who work outside the home, or a recognition of the fact that parenting is “work,” the title sets the tone for this down-to-earth, super accessible book that deals with a lot of real-life issues. Dr. Palmiter doesn’t focus on step-by-step techniques or discipline strategies that need a PhD to administer.  He simply talks about the basics of parenting and what needs to happen in order to raise a happy family – while acknowledging that none of us is perfect and we all get overwhelmed and frustrated with ourselves, our partners, and our kids from time to time.

A few of the things I like best about Dr. Palmiter’s book:

  • “Special Time.”  Dr. Palmiter suggests we spend an hour each week with each of our children doing nothing but watching them engage in something they enjoy, and then commenting, praising, and encouraging them in that activity.  He suggests how awesome it might feel if we (as adults) heard things like: “You prepared that dinner beautifully” or “Wow, you really managed the kids like a pro today” on a regular basis – and the same goes for our kids.  I love tips like this because they are free, aren’t hard to master, don’t have side effects, and can make a huge impact on families in a relatively short period of time.  I know, I know, I’m not sure I can really do that for what would equal 3 hours per week either (and he comments on that complaint), but it is something to work toward for sure.
  • His humor and lighthearted tone.  Parenting is a funny endeavor – but you would never know it by looking at most of the books, blogs, and websites out there.  Dr. Palmiter did a great job making me laugh. A couple examples are when he offers some comebacks to common kid complaints:

Kid: But all of my friends are allowed to do it!

Parent: Do you think their parents would consider adopting you?

Kid: But, you let (name of sibling) do that!

Parent: I love her more than you.

  • I didn’t feel like crap at the end.  As I mentioned above, lots of parenting books make me feel like a bad parent.  Either because I never have the energy or motivation to do all the things they tell me I should, or because my kids never look like their examples.  The thing about this book is that my family DOES look like Dr. Palmiter’s examples, and he even shares his own quirky family and parenting blunders with us!  He also seems to get that modern family life is crazy, hectic (his website is even hecticparents.com), and frankly ugly at times.

To learn more about Dr. David Palmiter check out his website.  To buy the book, check it out here.



Psychology and Reading – Top Picks

I LOVE to read.  In fact, in the past few years it has eclipsed House Hunters as my go-to stress reliever.  I thought I would take this love of books and give you some of my faves.  I’ll start with psychology and mental health oriented picks (smart and professional, huh?) and then give you a couple fun picks.

Top Book for Couples:

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.  This is an oldie but goodie and I recommend it all the time.  I even recommend it for single folks because it can help us all learn more about ourselves.  It’s an easy read, totally relate-able, and so old that you can find it at the library or a used book store for super cheap.  Note: bypass the new versions and stick with the original.

Top Books for Parents:

The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness by Edward Hallowell.  I read this book for the first time before I even had kids of my own – I liked it then and now.  Dr. Hallowell’s writing style is honest and straightforward, but he doesn’t talk down to his readers as many parenting book authors do.

Parenting Your Out of Control Child by George Kapalka.  I recently read this book, and while the writing left a bit to be desired, the message was good.  In particular I loved the chapter describing how to set up a system of parenting based on rewards rather than punishments.  I like this strategy of parenting and Dr. Kapalka’s is the best description I’ve seen.

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua.  Ms. Chua has gotten a lot of flack for her parenting style, but I thought the book was superb.  Funny, down-to-earth, and completely unique – it is worth checking out.  Plus, after I reviewed her book on this blog, Ms. Chua wrote to me – how cool is that?!

Top Book for Kids:

Mind Over Basketball by Weierbach and Phillips-Hershey.  I use this book in my practice all the time. It is especially good for boys in elementary school.  Parents can work with their kids chapter by chapter, or it can be used by professionals.  The techniques for cooling down during periods of stress or anger are useful and understandable.

Top Book About Living with Mental Illness:

Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety by Daniel Smith.  This sort-of-funny-sort-of-disturbing book is certainly entertaining.  Author Smith also writes a blog about his life and anxiety at The Monkey Mind Chronicles if you don’t want to read the whole book.

Top Book You Won’t Be Embarrassed to Read (i.e., more literary):

The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger.  This was one of my favorite books this summer.  I love Ms. Freudenberger’s description of her characters (they’re all flawed, just like normal people) and the stories don’t necessarily end happily.  In fact you’re not even sure how (or if) they end at all, which is even better.  Her novel, The Dissident, from a few years ago is good, too.

Top Book You Might be Embarrassed to Read (i.e., more trashy):

Since I can’t recommend The Twilight Saga since Bella has fallen from grace, and since I am still 167th on the waiting list at the library for 50 Shades of Grey, I had to dig back in the archives for this one.  So here it is: The Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris.  Like Twilight for grown-ups this series is kind of silly, totally fantastical, sexy, and has lots of volumes (12 or 13?) – just like I like my trashy reads.  Better yet, TrueBlood is (sort of) based on these novels – but don’t even get me started on that guilty pleasure.

Happy Reading!