There is conflicting information about the origins of this expression, but it is generally agreed to be a curse. We are watching history be made as each day goes by, and frankly, I wish I lived during a more boring chapter of future history books. At the same time, though, it is through the difficult times that we grow.
As a psychologist, I’m used to walking with people through the difficult times. I usually can’t offer a quick or simple fix, but I can be there with tools, hope, and connection.
My goal in creating this site is to offer resources to a wide audience during these trying times. I want to reach those who share my drive to help children and provide them with the tools to do this effectively: teachers, social workers, counselors, and fellow psychologists. If there are specific resources that you would like to see, please let me know, and if I have the appropriate skills and knowledge, I will do my best to make it happen.
Thank you for joining me during these interesting times. Follow my site to stay up-to-date with resources.
Jaynay Johnson, LMFT, is a therapist who specializes in teen mental health and practices in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. She does amazing work with teens struggling with self-harm, suicidal ideation, depression, and anxiety. She is also the author of three books: Dear Teen Self, a book to help adolescent girls through the difficulties of being a teenager, My Dear Teen Self, a guided journal to help teenagers develop insight into their emotions, and Dear Mom, Dear Daughter, a guided journal for adolescent girls and their mothers to complete together to promote healthy communication skills. Jaynay took the time to chat with me over Zoom about her important work.
Jaynay shared with me that the word “teenager” was not coined until the 1940s. It was not until recently that we recognized and focused on adolescents’ unique needs and stage of development. “We didn’t really give teenagers their space” until recently, and she is excited to be part of this movement. “These people aren’t adults … but we’ve never really carved space for them this way.” She focuses on helping teens through “guiding” rather than punitive approaches. “I just want people, when we think about mental health, to not neglect teen mental health. … The stereotype with teens is, they think they know it all, and yeah, of course they do, but they also haven’t lived a lot. … But can we also provide some grace, they might know it all based on their life experience.”
Jaynay wrote Dear Teen Self and self-published it in 2015. This book uses cognitive behavioral techniques and addresses issues including friendship, sex, mental health, and school. She wrote this book to expand her reach to teens beyond her clinical practice.
Dear Mom, Dear Daughter came out of Jaynay’s clinical work: “Being a teen therapist, a lot of the chief complaints that I hear from teen girls often is the relationship with their mother. I think mothers tend to negate their role in their teen’s lives and how important it is to them.” She noticed that adolescent girls might have something they want to share with their mother but are not sure how to say it to their face. “I just wanted to create a tool in between that could assist with the communication.” The book includes a mood tracker to help with communicating feelings. She is currently working on a follow-up journal to foster communication between mothers and sons.
Because Jaynay works with teens experiencing suicidal ideation, she has to navigate maintaining relationship with her clients and informing parents for safety reasons. She described how she creates a plan with the teen and parent to ensure safety. Teens often want to share these concerns with the parent but are unsure about how to bring it up, so Jaynay facilitates this discussion. She shared that being “extremely transparent” about what has to be shared and why. “I really try to frame it as, you’re unsafe, that’s okay. That’s what adults are here to do, we’re here to protect you and make sure that you’re safe, and when you are feeling safe again … I also want you to be emotionally safe to process what happens next.”
In addition to her clinical practice and writing, Jaynay speaks, consults, and is a “parent educator.” Information about these services is available on her website, linked above. She is also working on developing a “therapist academy” to help other therapist who work with teenagers access important resources and skills.
Friends, I have wonderful news! Armani has decided to take time out of his very busy schedule to start a weekly mewsletter to share with all of you!
Every week, I will share with you what shenanigans he has been up to this week along with an update about his health. As many of you already know, Armani was diagnosed with diabetes last year, and today the vet gave him a Libre device to help us track his sugar levels, which hopefully will reduce the number of blood draws he has to do. He enjoys being Bionic Kitty but does not enjoy blood draws.
If he’s feeling chatty, we will also share His Own Words about how he’s been doing lately.
Armani is happy to share his mewsletter with all of you FREE of charge. He will accept donations to help pay for his prescription diabetes food, insulin, Libre devices, vet visits, and other expenses. Donations are optional, and any amount makes him smile. Half of all mewsletter donations will go to organizations that help homeless or needy pets or directly to pets in need.
Do you not get enough emails? Do you want Armani to come right to your inbox? Subscribe to my blog!
Make a one-time donation
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Proceeds from Armani’s mewsletter help pay for his insulin and vet costs. He also shares 50% of each donation with organizations that help pets.
Welcome to another blog post about an awesome professional with resources to share! Dr. Danielle Keenan-Miller works for UCLA as the director of the Psychology Clinic. She is also the author of The Binge Eating Workbook, a fantastic resource for professionals working with clients with eating disorders. Keep an eye out for her upcoming course with Simple Practice for treating binge eating behaviors. Check out her interview below!
1. Tell me about your clinical work and professional background?
I entered graduate school at UCLA with an interest in researching mood disorders, particularly the biological and psychosocial mechanisms that cause depression and bipolar disorder to run in families. Along the way, I fell in love with doing clinical work and realized that I wanted to have a career that helped me use my background in research to bring science into treatment. I was also fortunate to have an opportunity to get experience doing supervision during my graduate training and internship year and began to see clinical supervision as a way of broadening my impact beyond the number of clients I could see myself in practice. After a postdoctoral position at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior studying an intervention for youth at high risk of developing bipolar disorder, I took a job focused primarily on teaching and supervision at the University of Southern California. A few years later, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to return to UCLA to become the director of the UCLA Psychology Clinic. In that role, I oversee a busy community clinic, conduct research on psychotherapy and supervision, teach graduate coursework, and supervise some of the most wonderful graduate students in the world. I also have a small private practice focused on evidence-based psychotherapy for adults.
2. I can tell from your CV that you have a huge variety of clinical interests! How do you keep up with all of it? How do you decide what to focus on next?
One of the great things about working in an academic setting is that I am surrounded by colleagues and students who represent a variety of areas of expertise. It provides a wonderful opportunity to stay aware of important developments in the field that might otherwise not be on my radar, and to access information and trainings in cutting edge approaches. I love being able to bring that information back into my practice, whether that’s my individual work with clients or my supervision of graduate trainees.
3. Your book focuses on preventing binge eating – how did you come to this project?
I first developed an interest in treating eating disorders as I was entering my clinical internship in my sixth year of my doctoral program. I did my internship year at a student counseling center, and I was thrilled to be supervised by the director of the center’s eating disorders program. It was there that I fell in love with doing eating disorders treatment. The clients I was working with were smart, ambitious, and vibrant young people who dedicated far too much of their precious mental energy to thoughts about calories, exercise, weight, and shape. I found that once we could loosen the grip that the eating disorder had on their minds and behaviors, they were able to flourish in ways that improved not only their own lives, but those of the communities around them. I was very moved by their resilience and the tremendous internal power that they redirected into other aspects of their lives. My supervisor from internship and I remained colleagues and friends, and she approached me a few years ago about the idea of writing a book together. From our own clinical experiences, we knew that there was a lack of resources that we felt comfortable recommending for binge eating; most books were either too dry or too far afield from the established science. From there, it was a natural and happy decision to collaborate to create The Binge Eating Prevention Plan workbook.
4. What is your approach to treating disordered eating? This is an important specialty that a lot of clinicians (myself included) don’t really get training in.
My approach to this work is that we need to address both the parts of the disordered eating that are about food and the parts that are not about food. That means helping people to regularize and broaden their diets so that they’re eating in a way that feels nourishing, satisfying, and joyful. It also means identifying the internal and external triggers for unhelpful eating behaviors, including problematic thoughts about themselves or about food, challenging interpersonal relationships, difficulties with emotion regulation or distress tolerance, unhelpful habits, and distorted emphasis on weight and shape in defining their lives.
5. What advice would you have for clinicians who want to be competent in treating disordered eating?
My first piece of advice is that every clinician should have some background in at least the assessment of disordered eating. We know that eating disorders often go undetected, both by clients themselves and by clinicians and medical providers. For example, only about a quarter of individuals with binge eating disorder who are attending therapy bring up their binge eating to their mental health provider. It’s incumbent on mental health providers to take the lead in inquiring about client difficulties with eating or body dissatisfaction, and to create a therapeutic environment free from weight stigma so that clients feel comfortable disclosing their concerns in these domains.
The second key piece of advice is that all clinicians should educate themselves about the Health At Every Size Approach. It’s essential that clinicians not fall into the trap of equating weight and health (see the excellent work of Jeff Hunger and Janet Tomiyama if this area is new to you!) and that we work towards social justice by helping clients in all types of bodies meaningfully pursue a flexible, sustainable path towards mental and physical health. If clients are stuck in a cycle of talking about weight loss as a goal, help them understand the reasons for that goal and work directly towards the outcomes they are seeking through weight loss rather than focusing on weight.
Beyond that, I’d say that getting some basic education in the treatment of binge eating disorder is useful for all clinicians. Binge eating is more prevalent than bulimia and anorexia combined, and most people with BED are presenting to general mental health services rather than specialty eating disorder treatment programs. Being able to effectively intervene in the cycle of binge eating will have a huge impact on most people’s practice. Christopher Fairburn has done excellent work adapting CBT for eating disorders and has written some clinician-friendly materials. Of course, I think clinicians can also get a lot of valuable tools by reading our book, and even working through it alongside clients. We draw from multiple theoretical orientations including CBT, ACT, IPT, and DBT, so most clinicians will find some tools that feel familiar and some that may be new or presented in a new way.
6. What would be a main takeaway you want readers to get from your book?
The most important takeaway is that there are highly effective treatments for binge eating; it does not have to be a lifelong sentence. Outcomes from both clinician-delivered treatments and self-help books are good, so people should seek support in whatever way makes sense to them. The other main takeaway would be that the solution isn’t more willpower, more restriction, or more self-punishment. Most people with binge eating have already tried those strategies to no avail, and both the research and my clinical experience show that they tend to make the problem worse instead of better.
7. Do you have any other upcoming projects you’d like to talk about?
Yes! I’m planning on recording a CE course with Simple Practice Learning this summer for any psychologists or social workers who are interested in learning more about how to help clients who struggle with binge eating.
If you have been following my blog, you know I have been interviewing therapist authors to bring you more perspectives on mental health and more resources. Today I am sharing an interview with someone who is not a therapist. Jade Miller does peer support and shares her journey living with Dissociative Identity Disorder, and she has written books about her experience.
Peer support is different than therapy but can be an essential part of treatment and healing. It’s impossible for everyone to find a therapist who shares their lived experience, and although that lived experience is not essential for a therapist to be effective (and some therapists with lived experience do not choose to disclose this information to clients), connecting with someone who understands because they have been there themselves can be a huge piece of their healing journey.
1. To start off, can you tell me what goes into peer support and how it’s different from “traditional” therapy?
Yes! Peer support is more popular in Europe at the moment but a close parallel that is more widely known/understood in the USA is the idea of a “sponsor” for people in AA. It’s someone who is further along the road of recovery, who has had a lot of success in their recovery, offering to help others who are on that same road. (And just like many other professions, there are good peer supporters and not so good ones.) There is more room for personal disclosure since the help being offered is informed by the lived experience of the one offering peer support. It also tends to involve a lot more self-education on the part of the peer supporter, which they have to decide how and when to apply with their clients based on their experience with being the one needing help. I am personally careful not to misrepresent myself as a therapist because I am not a therapist and what I offer is not therapy. I encourage my clients to seek therapy in addition to the support I offer, if they feel it to be needful.
2. How did you get started offering this service, and how do people get signed up for peer support?
I started off as a blogger writing about my recovery from trauma and an attachment disorder from 2014-2018 on my blog, Thoughts From J8. During that time I also published 5 books and helped run various trauma support groups online, wherein I got to know a lot of people in recovery and fielded a lot of private questions and conversations. I came to a resting point in 2018 where I felt I had gotten to a place in my recovery where I wanted to just step back from the internet and enjoy life. No one ever fully “arrives” in healing from trauma, but I had gotten to a level of health and functionality that I had worked hard to attain, and I wanted to celebrate it and take some time off. About a year later, I knew I wanted to continue helping trauma survivors but I felt like I would be better at it in a one-on-one setting. There’s only so much generic info you can offer from behind a computer screen in a 5-min conversation. Since DID and ritual abuse are very misunderstood and underserved populations, I started offering my lived experience and education (sought out and obtained on my own over the course of 15 years) to help others with whatever their goals were for their recovery. People who might be interested in learning more about me or what I offer to people can visit my business site which is Peer Support For Multiples.
3. It looks like you do a lot of work specifically with people with DID – does your support network work with other diagnoses as well?
I primarily work with DID because that is where the majority of my experience and education lies. Other diagnoses tend to have more resources/options available to them so it would be unusual for someone with a completely different diagnosis to seek me out specifically. I would most likely approach that on a case by case basis. (If I suspect or know that a person needs support that is beyond my experience and ability, I do my best to find other resources for them but ultimately I do not take them on as a client.)
4. In my experience, it is particularly difficult to find professionals who have experience, expertise, and competence in DID specifically – what can we do as professionals to provide competent and appropriate services?
I love to work with professionals (in fact many of my clients hire me alongside their therapist) to help them understand DID better from the point of view of someone with lived experience. I would say seeking feedback and input from people with DID and dissociative disorders whenever possible is one thing that can really help professionals understand their clients better and learn what helps and what doesn’t. I also offer my time to professionals who have clients with DID to help answer any questions they may have about topics that they have a hard time understanding regarding their clients. Consultations about specific cases are also available if the client gives their permission for details to be shared with me.
5. If you’re comfortable, can you tell me a bit about your experience with DID?
I first began realizing I had an internal system of different parts/people in 2005. I started having flashbacks and uncovering repressed memories at about the same time. Back then it was really scary and confusing because there wasn’t much information available on what was happening to me nor were there any professionals in my area (or even within a few hours’ drive) who could or would help. Later even when I found one or two who claimed to understand DID, their approach was re-traumatizing to myself and my internal system and I decided we were not a good therapeutic match. After 15 years of internal work, with the help of various people and varying backgrounds/credentials, I would consider myself a “healthy functioning multiple” who would technically be DDNOS (Dissociative Disorder Not Otherwise Specified) since most of the amnesia is no longer present. I live life as a group of people who definitely have opposing thoughts at times but who mostly let me handle the external world. Functionally I would not appear to have a dissociative disorder unless I was going through tremendous amounts of stress/trauma. A couple of my closest friends have been able to get to know a couple of my other inside people, but only over a matter of years. Most people who are not close to me would not know they exist.
6. Again if you’re comfortable, what has your experience been like with the mental health system?
I find a lot of interactions in the mental health system to have the potential to easily re-traumatize people simply due to the power dynamics at play. I have experienced professionals who believe they know me and know what I need, without even talking to me extensively, over and above what I think and believe, and when we begin a “helping” relationship already at odds, it doesn’t tend to get much better from there. This is one reason I like the alliance I can create with my clients since I’m not a therapist. We are on the same level, rather than there being a hierarchy with me above them and them below me. I’m not afraid to say I don’t know the answer to something, and to invite them to be curious together.
7. What should mental health professionals know about DID? What should the general public know about DID?
Dissociative disorders are not as rare as people are trained or told to think it is. Part of the problem is that the tools for diagnosis are outdated and inadequate. If you look at the ACE (Adverse Childhood Experience) statistics it is estimated that 1 in 6 adults experience 4 or more ACEs. Dissociation is one way that people cope with ongoing trauma, but dissociation by nature is covert and by design does not bring attention to itself since such attention could potentially be life threatening in abusive environments.
DID itself has also been stigmatized by stories like Sybil, Fight Club, and Split to the point that people would not want to know or admit if they thought it was a possibility. In some cases their reputation and even career would be jeopardized.
Most people can relate to the idea of having more than one ego state, even ego states that can sometimes oppose each other, as well as having an “inner child;” the popularity of IFS (Internal Family Systems Therapy) has brought this to light more recently. The primary (but not only) distinguishing factor between having a variety of ego states of varying ages and opinions, and DID, is the lack of amnesic barriers between the ego states. There are related dissociative disorders where the person has multiple distinct ego states but without the amnesic barriers. DID is the diagnosis that gets all the attention, but DID and dissociative disorders are much more common than people typically believe because they’ve been socialized to believe that it will look a certain way when in reality it doesn’t. It’s also worth pointing out that parts (as in, ego states) are not the problem – unresolved trauma is the problem.
8. Tell me a bit about your books, blog, etc – the resources you have put out there?
On the writing front, I wrote a book for people’s inner child/children in 2015 called Dear Little Ones. This book has traveled around the world and been loved by many abuse survivors, therapists, and loved ones. In 2016 I made it a series and wrote Dear Little Ones: Book 2 – About Parents, which discusses the complex relationships we all have with our caregivers. In 2018 I wrote the final book in the series, Dear Little Ones: Book 3 – About Being Whole in which I talk about what it means to find healing as a ‘we,’ rather than an ‘I.’ The books have been well received in the trauma community, although the original Dear Little Ones remains a bestseller out of the three.
I also wrote Attachment and Dissociation: A Survivor’s Analysis in 2016 as a short ebook that dives into the dynamics between trauma, attachment theory, and dissociation – all of which I’m fascinated by. My blog, Thoughts From J8, remains live as well, as a resource.
Last year (2020) I also released a more detailed video about my life story called Edelweiss, which is free to view on YouTube. I made Edelweiss with the hope of presenting a view of someone with DID, who had survived childhood trauma and trafficking in a non-sensationalized way. I also wanted to tell a story of someone who had overcome extreme circumstances and found a peaceful and fulfilling life, so that others might be encouraged that it was possible for them as well.
9. Do you have any other projects coming up that you would like to talk about?
Right now I’m currently in process of creating new editions of the Dear Little Ones books with the help of a professional book designer which I hope to launch in late May or early June with the goal of reaching more people who need their message. I have also been plugging away at my first novel – tentatively called The Farm – for a couple of years, and have the outline written for my first memoir as well. I stay busy!
Between affordability, accessibility, and fit, finding a therapist who can meet your needs feels impossible. Most people aren’t even sure where to start when it comes to choosing a therapist. While there are many different factors to consider, one that comes up frequently when I receive referrals is the therapist’s credentials, and this is a consideration I will be exploring today.
When choosing a provider, you absolutely want to make sure you are going to someone with the credentials and training to treat your presenting problems. Ask potential therapists about their license to practice and which licensing board oversees their practice. Unfortunately, “therapist” is not a protected term in a lot of places, so untrained and unlicensed individuals will use the term inappropriately, and this is harmful.
That being said, I frequently get calls from people who want to see a psychologist specifically. I work at an office with social workers and masters-level counselors and therapists, but these individuals want to see a “doctor” because they assume my higher degree makes me the best option.
This is just not the case in practice. According to multiple meta-analyses by the American Psychological Association, it is a strong therapeutic relationship, NOT a specific degree or credential, that makes therapy “work.” As long as the provider is a qualified therapist, which type of qualification they received does not impact treatment outcomes. Basically, I could have the best training in the world, and if we do not have good therapeutic fit and a strong relationship, I am not the right therapist for you. Furthermore, there is debate within the field as to what “expertise” looks like in a field where outcomes can be so subjective. Is a doctoral-level therapist with one year in practice more of an “expert” than a masters-level clinician who has been seeing clients for a decade? Science says no.
While writing this post, I took to Twitter (because of course I did) and got a flood of sources about this. You can check out all the other articles shared here, but the basic consensus is 1) no, psychologists aren’t inherently better therapists; and 2) “therapy outcomes” is such an ambiguous term that anyone claiming they are a “better” therapist has a pretty big burden of proof to show that they could even measure this.
“But don’t doctoral-level practitioners get more training than those with master’s degrees?” Yes, my doctorate required more credits and more variety of training than my colleagues with masters degrees. However, that additional training was not in providing therapy. Doctoral programs include training in psychological assessment (my series on what that means can be found here) and diagnostics. My training in psychotherapy services is comparable to that of someone with a masters in clinical social work or psychology.
So if you need a psychological evaluation, or you need clarity on what diagnosis best fits your symptoms, you might need a consultation with a psychologist. But for ongoing therapy services, a clinician with a masters degree is just as qualified as one with a doctorate.
Some of this attitude comes from within the field – some believe the fact that they have a doctorate makes them “better” than someone who “only” got their masters. We need to rid ourselves of this superiority complex because it impedes access to services when clients feel that they need to narrow down their options even more when there is already a provider shortage. And not to mention, the studies I linked above show that the idea that psychologists make better therapists is just false.
Look for a therapist whose approach and personality fit your specific needs, not one that has a specific degree. I wholeheartedly recommend every masters-level clinician at my organization, especially since I do not know when I will next have therapy openings.
Ludo is an English board game dating back to the 1800s. Although many people today have not heard of Ludo, most of us have played modern variations on this game like Sorry or Trouble. Basically, players take turns rolling a die to travel around the board into their home. If another player lands on your piece, it has to start over.
This website has Ludo available for free, and you can use this game in telehealth sessions! Instead of creating a unique link, you use screen share and take turns with screen control to make your moves. This game is for two to four players, so it can be done with individuals or small groups. You can opt to have the computer play with you if you want the experience of more players.
Ludo is a game based on both planning and luck – you can’t control what you or the other player will roll, so you inevitably have to practice frustration tolerance when things are not going your way. As with most telehealth games, you are not able to cheat to get ahead, so as a therapist I can stay focused on that positive relationship with my client while still using emotion regulation skills in real time. In the last year, I feel like having this option has actually benefitted many of my clients, and I would argue it could be seen as an improvement on in-person play therapy.
This is a simple game that can be an intervention on its own or can leave room for conversation during play. And as with all virtual board games, you will never lose any of your pieces!
When I was young, so many years ago, we had a CD of various flash games that passed the time before we got dial up internet. My favorite was this game where I was a battleship dropping bombs on submarines, but Hexxagon was a close second.
Hexxagon is a strategy game where you take turns, either with the computer or with another player, moving gems around the beehive-shaped board. When you move a gem to an adjacent space, the gem clones itself, and when you land next to an opponent’s gem, your gem converts their gem to one of yours. You want to have the highest number of gems when the board is full. It’s a fun game that requires focus and strategy, but it’s not so consuming that you are unable to have a conversation while playing.
There used to be a way to play Hexxagon over Skype, but they removed the game feature years ago. Since we can’t use Skype for HIPAA-compliant video sessions, this would not be an option anyway. But you can still use Hexxagon in your telehealth sessions! Simply go to this website, choose “Player vs Player,” and share your screen. Take turns with screen control with your client to play the game, and you’ve added another simple but fun strategy game to your telehealth toolbox.
You asked, and I delivered! Recently, I updated my professional will. Like with many things in my life, I celebrated the occasion by tweeting about it. This generated a lively discussion of professional wills, what they are, and why we as therapists need them.
I vaguely recall professional wills being mentioned during my graduate training, but it was not a topic that we covered in-depth. This is surprising, since we are ethically required to have provisions in place for if we die unexpectedly. Sure, it’s not fun to think about, but if something happened to me unexpectedly, I want my clients to be taken care of.
A few years ago, I set out to create my own professional will, and now I am passing that knowledge on to YOU! This webinar includes everything you need to know about professional wills for therapists, including what should be in the professional will, how to choose your executor, and how to talk to clients (both adults AND children) about this topic.
***This webinar does not grant you Continuing Education Credits, but it does arm you with information that you need as a therapist.***
Because I wasn’t able to offer CEUs, I am presenting this webinar on a sliding scale – pay what you can or what you think is fair. I recommend $25 for licensed professionals and $1 for broke students.
Please note – this is my first time setting up this kind of webinar for purchase on WordPress. Please tell me if you have problems accessing it, making a payment, etc. I have someone putting a transcription together and will upload that as soon as I have it but wanted to make the information available as quickly as possible.
I hope you find this webinar helpful. Do you have questions or comments? Let me know!
Purchase the Webinar
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I connected with Dr. Deborah Serani on Twitter, and she was kind enough to answer some questions about her clinical work and her writing. She has some great books about depression as well as books for kids, and you can find her books on Amazon!
To start off, tell me a bit about your professional background and how you came to your current expertise?
I’m a psychologist and a trained psychoanalyst in practice over 30 years. I decided to pursue this career because I struggled with depression as a child and entered psychotherapy to help me recover. That experience saved my life and changed my life.
I love that you’ve written for children! Tell me about your upcoming book, Sometimes When I’m Mad?
I’m writing a series of children’s picture books for Free Spirit Publishing that highlights mental health issues in little ones. The first one published in 2020 is Sometimes When I’m Sad, about pediatric sadness. The second in the series arrives Fall 2021 and is titled Sometimes When I’m Mad, which helps children identify angry feelings and healthier ways to express them. Next up in 2022 is Sometimes When I’m Bored, which, you guessed it, helps children understand and navigate boredom.
You’ve written three books about depression. Tell me about your experience writing so in-depth on this topic?
I struggled with depression as a child, but didn’t realize it. As I recovered, I learned so much about mood disorders and wanted to share my experience. So, when I became a psychologist, I thought writing a book from the dual perspective of being a patient who lives with depression and a professional who treats it would be a most unique read. I always wanted to write a series of books that looked at the trajectory of depression from childhood to old age, so Living with Depression, Depression and Your Child, and Depression in Later Life does just that.
What would be the main message you hope people take away from your books?
That there is always hope. And to believe in that hope as you are healing.
I just downloaded The Ninth Session and am looking forward to reading it! (No spoilers please!) What made you decide to pursue fiction?
I’ve always been a writer, even as a kid. I remember writing my own Star Trek episodes in elementary school. Writing science fiction short stories and poems too. When I began working as a technical advisor for the television show Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Isaw what it took to write for television – and thought, I have a great idea for a story … but it’s gonna be written as a novel!
I see on your website that you have lived experience with depression – if you are comfortable, could you share a bit about that? What your experience has been, and how it informs your work as a mental health professional?
As mentioned above, I was very depressed as a kid. I was tearful, tired all the time, frequently socially isolating myself. I couldn’t concentrate in school, failed classes and couldn’t find things to be happy about. I thought that was just how life was – for everyone. As I got older, and the symptoms worsened, I came to discover I was living with a serious, chronic mood disorder. A suicidal crisis got me into therapy, and that’s where I learned how to manage depression. And while one doesn’t need to have a lived experience to be a good therapist, my depression certainly does influence how I work as a professional. I know what it’s like to be in therapy; how hard it can be to find medications that work; how to bargain with side effects or structure life so my chronic depression doesn’t derail me. In this way, I can appreciate when a patient hits a bump in the road to recovery or struggles in day to day issues to keep a balance.
Do you have any other upcoming projects you’d like to discuss?
Just more books in the works. I love to write. And read. In fact, I’m reading your 2020 I Don’t Want to Be Bad and am finding it such a great resource.
I am so excited! It is once again time to share my telehealth and kids training through PESI. Tomorrow and Thursday I will be teaching this course live, and there is still time to sign up for the live webinar! I will be detailing how to set up a telehealth practice specifically for work with children and adolescents, the ethical and legal considerations of telehealth, and demonstrating an array of kid-friendly, tested telehealth interventions. Upon passing the post-test, you will be certified in telemental health with kids.
Questions about this seminar can be submitted here, and I will email you back as quickly as I am able.