Dr. Carolyn Daitch is a Ph.D. psychologist with over 30 years of experience, during which she has received many honors, including multiple Presidential awards from the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis and a lifetime achievement award from the Michigan Society of Clinical Hypnosis, of which she was former President. Currently she directs the Center for the Treatment of Anxiety Disorders in Farmington Hills, MI. Needless to say we were thrilled to have her as a guest author at the Self Esteem Shop and greatly respect her work, and for taking the time to be a part of Meet the Authors!
1.) How did you become interested in treating people who have anxiety and difficulty managing their emotions?
It’s true that necessity is the mother of invention. At the clinic where I first worked as a psychologist, I was referred a number of patients who had the unrelenting and overwhelming anxiety reactions typical of panic attacks. I still remember how many of my clients had their first panic attack at Sears, right down the road from my office. Why Sears? It actually makes sense: the store exit was hard to find and when people with panic don’t have a way to escape quickly, full panic attacks are more easily triggered.
The intensity of my clients’ symptoms severely limited their day-to-day functioning. At that time, there was a dearth of effective medication, and the primary treatment modality among psychotherapists was psychodynamic. I really wanted to help these people, so I began to develop approaches to treat their symptoms that worked more quickly than talk therapy. My interventions were informed by cognitive behavior strategies combined with hypnosis and mindfulness.
My fellow therapists were, and still are, tirelessly looking for new strategies and the best treatment approaches out there to help their clients, including those suffering from anxiety. Many of them, seeing the success my clients experienced in reducing their anxiety asked me about my treatment approach or referred their clients with anxiety disorders to me. Finally, I assembled the most effective of these in my first book, The Affect Regulation Toolbox.
2.) How are your approaches different and more effective than others for treating anxiety and affect dysregulation?
I have a wide variety of interventions that are effective with anxiety, which allows me to design a treatment plan that reflects each patient’s individual needs and temperament. Also, having that range of options, I often combine several approaches, such as cognitive behavioral treatment, mindfulness, EMDR, and hypnosis. Also, I have created several guided imagery CDs targeting specific anxiety issues, which my clients use at home. This enables them to make progress more quickly and confidently.
3.) Isn’t it difficult to use hypnosis with people who are anxious?
Actually, not at all. Clients often tell me that they are too nervous to be hypnotized, and I reassure them that the research indicates that anxious individuals have high hypnotic susceptibility. Good hypnotic subjects have three qualities: a good imagination, the ability to focus attention, and sensitivity to bodily stimuli. Anxious people usually have great imaginations. Indeed, they often can imagine every possibility that can go wrong. They also focus very well, having lots of practice, unfortunately, focusing on their worries. And they tend to be hyper-alert to physical sensations and stimuli, worrying that something is wrong with them.
4.) Aren’t clients afraid of losing control in hypnosis?
If a client is uneasy about hypnosis, I explain common misconceptions about it, reassuring them that they are in control at all times and can change any of my suggestions to ones they prefer. For instance, I might suggest a client imagine walking down stairs, and she might change that to taking a slow elevator to a lower level. I tell them that they can open their eyes at anytime if they are uncomfortable. I also explain that we all have an observing part of ourselves, I call the Watchman, always in the wings during the trance experience, on alert if any thing in the protocol doesn’t fit for them. Although it rarely happens, if a client still does not want to use hypnosis, I can draw on many other effective interventions for treatment.
5.) You have written three books before The Road to Calm Workbook, which was recently published. What was your purpose in writing this one?
It is a follow up to my first book, The Affect Regulation Toolbox, which was published in 2007 and won an award for the best hypnosis book from the Society of Clinical Hypnosis.
Because so many clinicians had asked me about my treatment approach, I wrote that book for professionals who worked with clients suffering from anxiety. The Road to Calm Workbook, co-written with Lissah Lorberbaum, is aimed at helping a wider audience that includes laypeople with anxiety problems. Further, this workbook offers tools for a broader range of emotional challenges than I covered in the Toolbox. For example, in addition to the applications to anxiety issues, the workbook offers strategies for common struggles we all face from time to time, such as loneliness, feeling depressed, hopeless, frustrated, angry, misunderstood, abandoned, among other emotional triggers. So it helpful to any of us humans who deal with the ever-changing onslaught of emotions elicited by stress and interpersonal triggers. The workbook provides explicit toolsets in written form, on audio recording, and on an app. Yes, there is an app for that!
6.) Do you have any suggestions for therapists to help them work with anxious clients?
You need to individualize treatment for each client. The strength of many of the treatments for the disorders lies not in one modality’s approach but in the combination of interventions from an array of therapies. I encourage you to plan ahead before sessions and afterward to make brief notes about what you’ve learned about your client that you can incorporate into subsequent interventions.
As you proceed it is crucial that you attend to the moment to moment, and often unexpected, responses of the client and redirect the interventions accordingly. This immediate response to the client’s verbal or non-verbal reactions assures the client you are listening and that his or her responses are understandable, valid and respected. Challenge yourself to change course from one direction to another as you apply the tools during a session. A skilled therapist traverses through a session like a river: when water meets resistance, it changes course and continues in one fluid motion toward its goal.
7.) You also write about becoming flooded with emotion in relationships. How can the Road to Calm Workbook help relationships?
All committed relationships grapple with conflict. In my experience, conflict itself is rarely the problem; it is the knee-jerk, unrestrained escalation of discord that tends to undermine trust and intimacy. Although challenges are inevitable in relationships, emotional flooding is not. The workbook helps you gain awareness of your own emotional triggers in your relationships such as perceived criticism, judgment or misunderstanding. And it teaches you can catch your reactions before they cause emotional flooding. The strategies help you self-soothe and gain perspective so you can be more in control when you attempt to repair ruptures in your relationships.
8.) We always like to hear about what is in the works from our authors. Do you have any future projects & workshops that you would like to mention here? What is the best way for our readers to contact you for additional information?
Podcast with Dr. Charles Parker: AD/HD and Anxiety January, 2017 |
In Office Training/ Master Classes Farmington Hills, MI: January 8, 2017: Structuring Anxiety Groups Sunday, January 8th, 2017 |
February 12: Hypnosis and Habit Disorders | March 5: Anxiety and the Family
March 10: Imago Relationship Therapists of Michigan: Power Tools for Relationships , Livonia, MI
March 18: American Society of Clinical Hypnosis: Diminishing Pre-surgical Anxiety
April 8-9 Imago Relationship Therapists of Souther California, W. Los Angelos, California
May 8-9 Anxiety Treatment, Portland and Eugene Oregon
Dr. Daitch can be contacted at email@example.com or via phone at 248 626-8151
Meet play therapist and author Terry Kottman
Terry Kottman has been a huge influence on my life since I met her, while attending her ACA workshop back in the 80s. Professionally, she helped me understand the Adlerian influence on my life, while personally, she has been a dear friend who is always there with a willing ear and a positive outlook.
Terry is a prolific author and editor, and her work in play therapy led her to the development of The Encouragement Zone through which she provides play therapy training, counseling, life coaching, and fun. In recognition of her achievements, Terry was awarded the Association for Play Therapy’s Lifetime Achievement Award, one of only eight recipients of this prestigious award.
For the last 30 years, Terry has been a friend and role model to me, and I’m excited to share our interview in this edition of Meet the Author.
1.) Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background. How did you initially become interested in the counseling field?
If I start really early, I would say my first clients were my mother, who had chronic mental illness, and my father, who was an alcoholic. My family was full of dysfunction, and I think I kind of served as the family counselor. So I always had an interest in the counseling field to try to keep myself and my younger brothers and sister safe.
I was a special education teacher—taught in a self-contained classroom for children who were severely emotionally disturbed who had behavior disorders. I was frustrated by the lack of counseling services the students in my classroom received. (Remember, I am old, so this was a long time ago before most school districts had elementary school counselors.) I was young, and I liked to go to school, so I started “shopping” for a PhD program where I could learn to do a better job meeting the mental health needs of my students. I went to classes in 7 different programs at 6 different schools in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. I actually hadn’t ever heard of Counselor Education, so the first batch of classes I took were in social work and psychology. Then I kind of stumbled onto the Counselor Education program at the University of North Texas and decided that program offered classes that contained information that would help my students.
2.) Was there a particular catalyst that influenced your interest in creating Adlerian play therapy?
I was in the doctoral program at North Texas, applying Individual Psychology with my adult clients in my doctoral practicum class, and loving how it was working for me. Adlerian theory explained so many of the things about people that had confused me when I was a child and a teenager, and I was loving being Adlerian. At North Texas, the expectation was that if you were working with a child, however, you would be doing child-centered play therapy, so I was trying to be a non-directive play therapist. My very first play therapy client gave me some extremely pointed feedback that suggested I was not really being myself in my sessions with her and that catalyzed my developing Adlerian play therapy.
She was a child who lived in a children’s home and as an intern part of my job was to go to the children’s home to pick her up and take her back to the clinic where we had her play therapy sessions. After about 8 weeks of me sitting very still in my chair, tracking her behavior, restating what she was saying, and reflecting her feelings, she told me she had a question for me: “How come you are fun and funny and lively in the car and in the hallway on our way to that room with the toys, but once we get in there, all you do is tell what I am doing (and I already know that), and tell me what I am saying (and I already know that too), and tell me how you think I am feeling (and you know I don’t like that)?” This created kind of an existential crisis in which I recognized that I was leaving my primary therapeutic tool (my self—my personality—my beliefs about people) outside the playroom. So, I set out to figure out how to create an approach to therapy that would allow me to express all of me and be based on how I saw people and how they change.
3.) Tell us about a typical day in the life of Terry Kottman outside of the therapeutic field.
Because I have a rather non-traditional job (running a play therapy training center and maintaining a private practice), I have weird hours and a strange schedule. So…I work a lot most days—writing, planning workshops, developing new techniques, doing the registration for workshops, seeing a client, corresponding with people about workshops, conferring with one of my supervisees, etc. I also volunteer one day a week at an elementary school, doing play therapy.
The perfect day for me currently is a day in which I don’t have to work at all…on days like that, I might go for a walk in a local nature preserve with my husband, read a science fiction or fantasy book, work on making a mosaic or a piece of stained glass, cook something wonderful for my husband and son, watch my son play a video game, go on a date at our favorite coffee shop with my husband, or go out to lunch with a friend. Quite frequently, I might also be in a play at the local community theater’s children’s playhouse. Even though I say that I would choose to have some days “off,” I would still work with my play therapy kids at the elementary school—going to the school is the most fun I have every week.
4.) How does Adlerian Play Therapy differ from other play therapy modalities?
I think Adlerian play therapy is different than other approaches to play therapy in a couple of significant ways. (1) In Adlerian play therapy, there is a great deal of emphasis on conceptualizing individual clients and custom-designing the play therapy intervention process for specific clients. It is extremely important to be adaptive to the needs of the particular client, so we do different things with different clients—depending on the client’s interests, the most comfortable way he/she expresses himself/herself, etc. (2) There is a strong emphasis in Adlerian play therapy on consulting with parents and/or teachers and including various family members in the play therapy process. (3) There is a unique combination of directive and non-directive strategies in Adlerian play therapy, depending on the phase of therapy, the personality of the therapist, and the needs of the client. (4) Metacommunication is a uniquely Adlerian way of interpreting what is going on “underneath” the obvious. Metacommunication is kind of an umbrella skill that incorporates a number of different techniques. It can involve reflection of feelings, questions, speculation about underlying messages, interpretation of the meaning of reactions or behaviors, and so forth.
By metacommunicating, the counselor can help children begin to notice and understand their own patterns of communication. Often children are not aware that they are reacting or communicating in a certain way. Even those who are cognizant of their communication patterns usually lack the abstract verbal reasoning ability to conceptualize what these patterns mean about them and their interactions. By commenting about what is going on (and frequently, what it means), the counselor can help children think more clearly about how and what they are communicating.
5.) What ages of children benefit the most from Adlerian Play Therapy? When might Adlerian Play Therapy be contraindicated?
I work primarily with elementary aged school children and adolescents, though Adlerian play therapy can also be used with adults. However, many of my students also work with younger children, even three and four year olds. I don’t think Adlerian play therapy works particularly well with children with developmental delays, simply because they may not gain insight from metacommunication or metaphors. I am not sure that Adlerian play therapy is the best intervention with children who do not value connection—this might be autistic children and children with RAD.
6.)Connecting with the parents of children must present challenges in the school setting. How does the Adlerian therapist work around this crucial piece, since understanding the parents’ lifestyle & connection is an essential part of the Adlerian model?
There is a two-fold answer to this. School counselors and other people who work with children in schools can do parent consultation in formats other than the standard parent consultation, which usually happens every single week. They can do phone consultation, they can ask that parents participate in parenting classes, they can do once a month consultations, etc. The other path is to focus on consultation with teachers—especially with children who are struggling in school, it is essential to work with teachers on new ways to perceive and interact with the children with more understanding of what is going on with the children and the interaction between the teachers’ lifestyles and the children’s lifestyles.
7.) When do you integrate Adlerian Play Therapy with adventure-based counseling? Please describe this modality and when it’s most useful.
I use adventure-based games and activities with older elementary children and adolescents because I believe that children learn better from doing than they do from having someone talk to them. It is way to use play and metaphors to communicate with children who are too old to have a normal play therapy setting work with them.
8.) The books you’ve authored as well as the chapters you’ve contributed to others are so reader-friendly. The third edition of Partners in Play was just released. What are some of the changes from the previous edition?
I co-wrote the new edition with Dr. Kristin Meany-Walen, who added a user-friendly chapter on research. We added many new case studies to illustrate the various processes of Adlerian play therapy. We added many more descriptions of techniques that can be used in Adlerian play therapy, including sand tray, dance and movement, art techniques, and adventure therapy strategies. We also expanded the chapters on working with parents and teachers. The tone of the book is more casual than the previous two versions of the book—it is just more fun.
9.) What books were your childhood favorites? Favorites you read as a teen? How about now?
I read all the time as a child and teen. In elementary school, I read books like The Door in the Wall; The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; The Black Cauldron; Charlottes’ Web; and My Father’s Dragon. In my early teens, I loved The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings—fantasy books. I actually still read mostly fantasy books now.
10.) You have said that the book Love 2.0 was life changing for you. How so?
I have always thought connection to people was the most important thing in my life—connecting to friends, to family, to students, and to total strangers. The book, Love 2.0, explains the physiology and benefits of making connections—to truly seeing others and allowing them to truly see us. I also love the way the author writes—using a combination of research and anecdotes to illustrate her points. And I practice Loving Kindness meditation, which she advocates as a vehicle for creating positivity resonance with others.
11.) Finally, we always like to hear about what is in the works from our authors. Please share your upcoming speaking engagements and workshops. Are there future plans or projects you’d like to mention here?
Kristin Meany-Walen and I are working on a new book about play therapy techniques that links treatment goals and session goals to specific techniques as a way to encourage play therapists to be intentional in their interventions.
I am very excited about doing workshops on play therapy and video games with my son, Jacob. I believe that play therapists need to know about the vocabulary, concepts, and metaphors of video games because so many of our clients spend so much time playing video games. It is a blast combining my expertise on play therapy with Jacob’s expertise on video games. We are presenting a workshop together at the North American Society of Adlerian Psychology conference in Minneapolis in May. We currently do a two day class several times a year here in Cedar Falls, Iowa at The Encouragement Zone and we are seriously thinking about taking our show on the road. We are looking for folks who would be willing to help us organize workshops (by finding inexpensive venues and helping make contacts with local play therapists) in exchange for getting to participate in a workshop for free.
I am presenting at the Arkansas play therapy conference and the Tennessee play therapy conference in June—on Adlerian play therapy.
Terry Kottman can best be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to know more about classes offered at The Zone, you can find her website at the www.encouragementzone.com. Her work number is (319)266-0887.
Although I haven’t known him that long, the thing that stands out most about Dr. Eric Green is the depth of his knowledge of Jungian theory and his ability to implement it in his work with children. Eric is the author/editor of numerous DVDs and books including The Handbook of Jungian Play Therapy with Children and Adolescents, The Mandala Coloring Book, and most recently Counseling Families. Eric is gifted in his ability to understand and recognize the archetypes of children and adolescents. He helps young clients to process their emotions, work through issues and gain insight, by using the therapeutic power of the mandala, sandplay, miniatures, and other expressive tools. Read on to learn more about Eric Green and Jungian play therapy, as his thorough and comprehensive answers can speak for themselves.
1.) What got you initially interested in Jung’s psychology, one that seems removed from the mainstream or popular psychological thinking?
My uncle is a Jungian-oriented Catholic monsignor and introduced me to Jung’s writings, along with Joseph Campbell, Jean Houston, James Hillman, and Thomas Moore at a very young age. The spirituality and symbolism inherent within Jung’s archetypal psychology provided a new way to view for me to perceive the world around me make sense of suffering as well as meaning in my tumultuous adolescent developmental epoch. From a young age, I remember looking up to my uncle and wanting to like the same things he enjoyed. Later on, he would take me on many trips, infusing his Judeo-Christian, progressive beliefs with Jung’s psychology as part of our cultural experiences. I remember having a lengthy discussion with him, at about 13-years old, while playing Scrabble, about Jungian archetypes and the collective unconscious, alongside Buddhism. I was not quite sure at that time how to make sense of it all, but with consistent study and curiosity, I began to internalize parts of the psycho-spiritual aspects of Jung’s teachings. I took up interest in the enneagram and the Myers-Briggs and studies them extensively. And I attribute this early interest in Jung and his teachings solely to the influence of my uncle. This parlayed itself into my now life-long journey of studying, teaching, writing and incorporating Jung’s archetypal psychology into clinical practice with children. It was in my very early youth that my love affair with analytical psychology took shape and form. I am still attracted to Jung’s writings and the modern revisions from the post-Jungians due to the emphasis on the soul and the “soul making” that occurs through personality transformation described within Jungian psychoanalysis and the transference.
While I was completing my doctoral work in the mid 2000’s at the University of New Orleans, I was employed as an elementary school counselor. Having studied Jung in my graduate school curriculum, and attending educational workshops in archetypal psychology from various U.S. Jungian Institutes (they are typically found in many major cities), I created a “Color Your Mandala” self-awareness curriculum at the elementary school where I was employed. We conducted classroom guidance lessons and from within that developmentally-sensitive paradigm, asked children to create their mandalas (or “magic circles”). The following is a response from a 5 year-old female, “Doing the mandalas helped me understand my mother better, and now I don’t want to fight with her as much.” I also used sandplay when working with children in individual sessions at my elementary school, and they found it fun, relaxing, and helpful to clear their minds and work out different scenarios to difficult problems within their sand pictures.
2.) What differentiates Jungian Play Therapy from other theoretical play therapy approaches?
Children’s psyches have access to art, play, and expressive media made available to facilitate an inter-subjective process for symbol depiction within the transference (i.e., coloring mandalas, sandplay, dreamwork, creating fairy tales). Dreams are honored and children are encouraged by the analyst to bring their dreams to the consulting room where they may be depicted in a dream journal or through sand pictures. No resolutions are sought nor does the analyst attempt to change a child’s bad dream or nightmare. The symbols are produced and the analyst trusts the psyche will facilitate the curative path toward personality transformation by going inward. Children’s psyches will take them where they need to go for healing, even if it’s in the most remote and darkest of places in the recesses of their tormented or traumatized souls. We stand with children as temporary guides (or mythical fairies) on their soul work of ‘becoming,’ then ultimately “being.” We support children as they catalyze on the power of psychic healing from connecting the archetypal and transcultural to the profanely personal. Mythopoetic language and fairy tales may provide a psychological landscape for the self-healing archetype to emerge as we actively yet symbolically communicate to children through the myths of bliss out of which they are living. From the analytical psychology perspective, psychic healing following trauma derives primarily from the numinous, inter-subjective therapeutic alliance where the child internalizes resiliency and externalizes shadowy, disaffected parts of the Self. We, as wounded healers, don’t heal children. We merely provide the temenos (or free and sheltered space) for self-healing to activate.
Jungian play’s micro-counseling skill sets are derived from the tenets of child-centered play therapy (CCPT) as espoused by Dr. Gary Landreth. We use variations of CCPT’s micro skills, such as facilitating self-esteem/setting limits/decision making/empathic responses. Where Jungian play and CCPT differ is the analytical attitude held by the therapist, which honors the symbolic and internal processes activated within the transference. The analytic attitude is the capacity of the analyst, and ultimately internalized by the child patient, to make sense of symbols through personal associations and development by working in the transference. This is what ultimately leads to the aim of Jungian play therapy- transformation by engagement with the symbols in the warm and non-judgmental therapeutic alliance. Also, we utilize interpretation, an advanced reflection of feeling with meaning, essentially. This initially appears jarring to some non-directive purists, but the interpretations are never provided to the child directly regarding their art or symbols productions. Rather, interpretations comprise the therapist giving a voice to the child’s connection between the external and internal within the transference that may not be available directly to the child’s conscious state. Interpretation, therefore, if done sparingly and only after trust and security are in place within the therapeutic dyad, serves as a catalytic tool to advance the child through their process of wounding or alchemical “nigredo” (soul blackening) before coming out on the other side, the numinosity afforded by self-healing.
Another distinctive element of Jungian play is Dora Kalff’s concept of the free and sheltered space: it’s absolutely seminal to understand the quiet and sacred holding environment that the therapist gently creates so that the child feels safe and steady in his or her journey into the dissent and eventual assent. Sandplay therapy is distinctive to the Jungian perspective. Sandplay therapy, in slight contrast to sand tray therapy used perhaps commonly by play therapists, is a qualitatively different process. Sandplay requires a lengthy period of personal analysis ascribed by Dora Kalff, and specific certification through the Sandplay Therapists of America to demonstrate proper training and experience through case studies and symbol education. Sandplay is not used to resolve problems or create new solutions, but is a purely non-directive intervention that involves little to no verbal processing at all between therapist and child. A final minor difference would be that Jungians view children’s play, and the metaphors and themes of their play, within archetypal and trans-cultural lens, not simply reductionistic or thematic. So play, per session and overtime, is viewed for themes akin to fairy tales, archetypes, and examples in literature of commonly occurring human experiences that can help make sense of where the child is in their own personal cosmology. From this standpoint, with an awareness, however unconscious, of the myth out of which they are living, children are then afforded opportunities to engage with the psychodrama, the underworld, and eventually ascend to transformation (alchemical or psychological gold).
3.) What about this model would appeal to play therapists and patrons of the Self Esteem-Shop?
There’s a lot of common-sense, practical implications from the depth psychology approach that can be applied to children, especially focusing on building the therapeutic relationship and the transference. This model provides clinicians with insights into engagement with children with the symbols of self-healing, including activities that are multi-cultural in nature due to the transpersonal process of symbol work, including coloring mandalas, facilitating fairy tales, creating sandplay pictures, drawing dreams, etc. I encourage Self Esteem Shop patrons who are interested in this approach to consider to make learning about depth psychology part of your life-long educational journey. You may want to (a) seek out professional conferences and workshops that focus on analytical designs and/or play therapy/sandplay with children, (b) locate the latest books and journal articles written on psychodynamic approaches and play therapy with children,(c) engage in personal counseling to work on awareness/integration of your shadow(s) and projections, (d) participate in a regular supervision group with other clinicians using play therapy and/or analytical approaches when working with children, and (e) eventually participate in more formalized, in-depth training from a Jungian framework, including becoming a credentialed sandplay therapist by the Sandplay Therapists of America (STA).
4.) What sets your most recent book Counseling Families apart from other books in the field?
The book is focused on humanistic approaches to counseling families with very young children using either updated or brand new interventions that have an evidence-base. The book also includes, in many cases for the first time, the originators of some of the essential play therapy theories who’ve applied their work specifically with children in written form for this project- so we were absolutely thrilled and honored by this generous gesture. For example, Mary Anne Pare, the partner of Jungian analyst Dr. John Allan, contributed a chapter on integrating family systems work with Jungian play therapy. This is, to our knowledge, perhaps the first time this subject matter has been published in the 20+ years since she designed it. Finally, the book owes its soul to Eliana Gil, who created family play therapy and wrote about it in her seminal book many years back, as well as Charles Schaefer and Lois Carey. So while I’m not comparing our volume to these brilliant editions that paved the way for us all many years back, I would say that it’s been an honor to contribute this volume, however small or insignificant it’s ultimate impact may or may not be, as a research-informed guide, yet written clearly and practically for clinicians to incorporate interventions into their family treatment. Finally, our book is slightly tweaked to focus on family counseling and the role of counselors using play AND expressive art interventions ethically and competently as set forth by the American Counseling Association.
5.) Who or what are some of the greatest influences on your work? What impact have they had on your writing?
My Jungian psychoanalytic work with children, as well as research and scholarly contributions in play therapy, are significantly influenced by Anna Freud, Melanie Kline, Carl Jung, Michael Fordham, Thomas Moore, Joseph Campbell, James Hillman, Jean Houston, Donald Kalsched, Margaret Lowenfeld, Jean Houston, Dora Kalff, Edward Edinger, Louise Guerney, Charles Schaefer, Maria-Louise von Franz, Heinz Kohut, D. W. Winnicott, Gary Landreth, Eliana Gil, and especially, John Allan. They’ve impacted my writing by inspiring and guiding me, however indirectly and tacitly, to combine two of my favorites to help children and families in need: a Jungian approach with play. The original Jungian play therapy clinical model that I created, which was heavily inspired by John Allan’s seminal work in the 80’s with children in schools, reflects some of the classic-Jungian school of thought, as well as integrating post-Jungian thinking, such as archetypal psychology, as espoused through Michael Fordham and Maria Soldi and modernized by John Allan.
6.) You’ve been in several videos; you’ve written and edited several books. Do you have a favorite? Why/why not?
Though I spend an inordinate amount of time in my writing as it’s a distinct passion and pleasure, but I often find it painfully difficult to read my published work or see the movies I’ve been a part of. Like many of us who do this kind of work, I invariably find so many different ways I wished I had expressed points or items I could have included to bolster the project. So I typically don’t read my own work after it comes out, and I certainly don’t have a favorite. In fact, at this point I’ve published 100+ professional works. And I’ve only read 3. And I thought they were somewhat OK, so that means I didn’t cringe throughout. One of those is “The Handbook of Jungian Play Therapy.” John Allan’s Forward to that book was so touching and thorough that it brought tears of joy and disbelief upon my initial reading of it. What a generous and kind man he is. I was also honored that Louise Guerney, who is retired, graciously agreed to write the Forward to “Counseling Families,” something that she doesn’t typically do. And she knocked it out of the park. She’s one of the kindest and smartest women I have ever met in this field. But if I had to choose a favorite play therapy book, it would certainly not be one of mine, but either Eliana Gil’s “Helping Abused and Traumatized Children,” David Crenshaw’s “Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy,” or “Sandplay” by Harriet Friedman and Rie Rogers Mitchell. I also LOVE anything by John O’Donohue, the late Irish poet and spiritual author. “Eternal Echoes” is incredibly eloquent.
7.) In all of your years of working with children, what is the one lesson, Jungian-based or not, you’d like readers to take away?
Children don’t necessarily remember the interventions or elegant interpretations. They often do, however, remember the kindness we show them.
8.) Do you have anything coming up or future products that you would like to mention here?
I am working on my next single authored book, “Soulplay,” which comprises a new approach I’ve created and am excited to share. It will be written as a trade book, and not an academic text, for a wider audience and distribution. We’re excited about this project, and it should be out, and in bookstores, sometime in summer or fall 2017. I’ve also begun writing a new book on Jungian sandplay therapy with young children, which will include several chapters of case studies of my clinical work with sand pictures (!) and that should be coming out sometime in 2018. The tentative title is “Jungian Sandplay Therapy with Children: Analytic Perturbations and Alchemical Transformations in Healing.”
I have 2 new DVD’s that were released this month (January 2016) by Alexander Street Press: one is on integrating play therapy in school counseling program plans, and the other is on treating families with young children using play and consultation from a humanistic perspective. For ore information, visit ASP’s Website. I have 4 research manuscripts that are currently finalizing or they are near the end of the editorial process for various academic/peer-reviewed journals. One of these is a study I’m doing on sandplay with children affected by psychosis, and another we are examining play therapist’s attitudes when working with gender-variant and/or gender non-conforming youth. I also have keynote events and trainings booked throughout this year, as well as a couple new and exotic international locations I’ve been recently asked to speak at in 2017 on sandplay. I continue to try to waive the Jungian banner high and wide, while I still have the energy and stamina. And with John Allan’s blessing, it makes it meaningful. Feel free to visit my website for more information at www.drericgreen.com (password: PLAY).
The esteemed Cathy Malchiodi joins us this month on Meet the Author.
I became familiar with Cathy Malchiodi in1999 after reading her book Understanding Children’s Drawings. I clearly recall being taken aback by the breadth & depth of her knowledge. She further sparked my interest in exploring the power of children’s art and utilizing it in treatment with my clients.
I had the pleasure of attending a day-long workshop with Cathy a few years later. I was so impressed with her ability to captivate and engage participants. As I began to implement the use of creative expression within my practice, I found that it proved to be extremely beneficial in the healing process.
As I’ve gotten to know Cathy over the years, I have enjoyed her sense of humor and her charismatic personality. You can always expect to learn about new and innovative approaches when attending one of Dr. Malchiodi’s workshops or reading one of her many, many books.
1.) You have many credentials after your name including PhD, LPAT, LPCC, ATR-BC, REAT’S…
I think most people know what the PhD and LPCC mean! The LPAT is a license as a professional art therapist; the ATR-BC is my Board Certification as an art therapist; and the REAT is a Registration as an Expressive Arts Therapist. My PhD is in Psychology and specifically Research Psychology and has helped me tremendously in work with military and their families in developing evidence-based programs and creative interventions.
2.) Tell us a little bit about your back ground. What led you down the path of becoming an art therapist, a trauma-informed practitioner and writer/editor? Was there a particular catalyst that influenced your interest in writing?
I started out in fine arts and working in theater; that led me into art education and eventually a masters degree in art therapy. Later on I became licensed as a Mental Health Counselor and then worked toward a PhD in Psychology which I felt I needed in order to learn how to conduct research and also to expand my knowledge of trauma theory. I became a writer in response to a college professor who told me “you can’t write, you probably ought to be an art major!” So I did both—I became an artist and then found my voice through writing about my work as a therapist and then writing for Psychology Today starting in 2008, covering the “Arts and Health.” I have a readership of 3 million! I wish I could let that college professor know, “hey, you were wrong, I can write!”
3.) Do you have any personal influences in the art therapy or trauma field? In what way?
I am influenced by three trauma experts who have been incredibly supportive and kind to me and their names are familiar to most therapists—Bruce Perry, Peter Levine, and Bessel van der Kolk. They also have been three seminal voices in explaining the relationship of the body to trauma reactions. Their ideas have helped me to articulate why the expressive arts and play therapies are so effective in work with people of all ages.
4.) Tell us about a typical day in the life of Cathy M. outside of the therapeutic field.
Anyone who knows me understands that I have at least three drawing journals in process; I take time on most days to play digital instruments [sitar and drums] on my iPad and am learning to play the melodica [a combination of the flute and piano keyboard]; I love spinning class; and I take a nap at 1 pm on any day I can get away with it! I recently became addicted to shopping for crazy socks after students in Australia started my collection this past summer. I also cannot resist a good cat YouTube film.
5.) You’ve worked with so many different populations, from kids to veterans and the elderly. What are some challenges you find when working with such diverse groups?
I think any of us who are actively working as trauma specialists have dozens of challenges each and every day. With returning military, stress reactions, traumatic brain injury and suicide are three big clinical challenges; with children, being a mindful witness to their experiences through creative expression is both tremendously challenging and rewarding at the same time. I have been fortunate recently to be able to put together expressive arts programming for older adults who are in “memory care;” the impact of creative expression for these individual is impressive. While it is an ongoing challenge to address cognitive decline, the fact that the expressive arts are so helpful and impactful is something that is very inspiring.
I think the biggest challenge for all who apply arts and play-based activities is to remain present to the client’s needs. There is a tendency to want to find the right set of worksheets or structured activities in a certain sequence; this does not serve the individual in the long run and in most cases, does not result in long-term decrease in trauma responses. It is a challenge to be present to each person with a “beginner’s mind” yet at the same time, bringing experience and wisdom into each session in order to provide the best possible trauma-informed care and creative experiences.
6.) Why are the expressive arts so important in building resiliency in traumatized individuals?
This is one of the topics that gets me up in the morning because I am excited about what positive psychology and resiliency theory has taught us about its importance in intervention. First, you cannot expect to enhance resilience in anyone through a set of workbook activities nor any particular directives. It’s about the relationship between the individual and you and how well you understand the expressive arts and play-based approaches, including how you may have used the arts in your own resilience. After that, I see its importance in three ways:
1. Affect-Regulation. Art making and play can be self-regulating practices and ones that mediate anxiety and depression. Expressive arts therapy research is beginning to identify just how and why this mediation occurs, including some preliminary brain-wise data on what actually happens in the brain and body during creative arts experiences.
2. Mastery. Action-oriented experiences build confidence not only in specific skills, but also in the larger realm of personal efficacy – “I can do this.” The sensory-based, action-oriented qualities of creative expression naturally support capability, competency and personal strengths. Creative endeavors are not only self-rewarding, they are tangible moments of mastery and personal empowerment, enhanced by the positive relationship with a helping professional.
3. Right-Hemisphere to Right-Hemisphere. While creative expression is a whole brain activity and not limited to one part of the brain, the process of expressive arts therapy capitalizes on right-hemisphere dominance of both creativity and the positive attachment between the therapist and individual. The latter is where the transformation happens! And it’s also effective because we are interacting with the child, teen, adult or family without words and through the senses [visual, tactile, kinesthetic, etc], making the intervention more powerful than words alone.
7.) Being a part of so many publications and content, do you have any favorites that stand out? Is there an essential Cathy Malchiodi read?
I think Understanding Children’s Drawings is one of my favorites. However, I now keep returning to The Soul’s Palette: Drawing on Art’s Powers for Transformation and Wellness, because it has been useful for helping professionals who want to experience the expressive arts on their own. I also use it with teens and adults I see in practice because the creative experiences in it are structured, yet open-ended to allow for personal expression to emerge. And I am very proud of the second edition of Creative Interventions with Traumatized Children because it now includes wide-ranging approaches like art therapy and EMDR, how to use clay with children, family crisis intervention techniques, self-regulation activities and mindfulness with children and teens.
8.) How has art therapy and trauma-informed therapy evolved since your early days in the field?
First, trauma-informed practice was not really a prominent model a decade ago. I think after September 11, 2001, we really started to look at the experience of trauma differently because we had the opportunity to learn from large groups of traumatized individuals. At the same time we also were learning that talking about people in treatment via “pathology-driven” language that is generally diagnostic, demeaning and culturally insensitive was inappropriate and counterproductive. However, I found myself 30 years ago reframing children’s trauma responses as “adaptive coping skills” rather than “defense mechanisms.” Somehow I came to respect their survival skills, post physical and sexual abuse and violence and saw their response as natural reactions to survive unnatural circumstances.
Art therapy as a field is slowly catching up to the language of neuroscience and the overwhelming evidence that trauma is a body-based experience. Music therapy and dance/movement therapy have been quicker to understand and grasp neurobiology and trauma, probably because music involves rhythm as does movement. It is impressive to read how experts like van der Kolk and Stephen Porges have embraced the importance of movement in the form of dance therapy and yoga in treatment with trauma survivors; that is why I have included those approaches in my work with returning military and their families and children who have survived violence or assault.
9.) You’ve written and edited a plethora of books. What are some of the ways writing differs from editing your colleagues work? Do you have a preference?
For me, writing and editing are not that different. I often rewrite a lot of what is submitted to me as the editor! I know many editors simply “curate” books—they ask authors to write chapters and do not do much rewriting and reorganizing of authors’ work. I am very hands-on and often also write several chapters for books I edit—I love to write. I do write more slowly and carefully than most authors because I believe that what you put into print is your legacy and I want my written legacy to last.
Right now I am writing a book on my 20 years of experience with trauma-informed expressive arts therapy with children, teens, adults, families and communities. What I like best about writing my own books is being able to tell a story through case examples, visual illustrations and specific approaches. That is both exciting and challenging, but ultimately rewarding to see it come to print. Since I have worked with Guilford as a Series Editor, I also generally design the artwork for the covers, too. That gives me a chance to use my art school skills and also communicate what the book is about through images.
10.) Finally, we always like to hear about what is in the works from our authors. Do you have anything coming up or future projects and workshops that you would like to mention here?
2016 is shaping up to be a full schedule of exotic destinations. I will be teaching Trauma-Informed Expressive Arts Therapy® Level Three in Hong Kong China and Level One in Saskatoon Canada in May. I am giving an invited talk in London in March and various lectures on expressive arts therapy for arts therapists. There are several US events sponsored by the Trauma-Informed Practices and Expressive Arts Therapy Institute that are open to helping professionals– in Northern California in February [foundations of expressive arts therapies], Denver Colorado in June [visual journaling in trauma intervention] and Anchorage Alaska BP Center [Trauma-Informed Expressive Arts Therapy Levels One and Two]. For these and other offerings and the online catalogue [for distance learning], people can check this page: http://www.trauma-informedpractice.com/online-live-courses/ or trauma-informedpractice.com [our home page]. And if you are attending the American Mental Health Counseling Association Annual Conference in July 2016 in New Orleans, I have been invited to provide a Keynote Workshop on trauma-informed expressive arts therapy—so I hope to see you there!
Cathy Malchiodi, PhD, LPAT, LPCC, ATR-BC, REAT, is a research psychologist, a Board Certified and Licensed Professional Art Therapist, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, Registered Expressive Arts Therapist, and has had over 30 years of experience and education in trauma intervention and disaster relief and integrative approaches to health. Cathy is the founder, director and lead faculty member of the Trauma-Informed Practices and Expressive Arts Therapy Institute, dedicated to teaching trauma-informed intervention that integrates neuro-development, somatic approaches, mindfulness, and positive psychology. In particular, it supports the use of creative arts therapies including art therapy, music therapy and movement therapy, play therapy, integrative expressive arts therapies, and mind-body approaches for recovery and wellness in children, adults and families. In a few short years, the Institute has trained over 5000 professionals around the US, Canada, Asia, Australia, Africa and Europe.
Cathy’s blog, Arts and Health at Psychology Today Online covers topics related to art therapy, expressive arts therapy, trauma, body-mind approaches, neuroscience and the arts, creativity, and integrative health practices and has a readership of over 3 million. Cathy is a recognized force in international education, program development and advocacy for trauma survivors and the accessibility of trauma-informed care. She lives in the decidedly weird city of Louisville, KY with husband Dr. David Barker and two feline supervisors, Zoolee and Finnegan.
You can find our selection of Cathy Malchiodi’s books here.
This month on Meet the Author we speak with the esteemed children’s author Trudy Ludwig. In honor of this special interview we are currently offering 20% off her books with coupon code SESLudwig.
I met Trudy Ludwig a few years ago when Self Esteem Shop served as the onsite conference bookstore at an “International Bullying Prevention” symposium. I was immediately captivated by this bestselling, nationally acclaimed author’s enthusiasm. Her passion for advocating on behalf of bullying and relational aggression shines through every page of every book she has written.
I was struck by the realism conveyed in her stories, which brings her characters to life. I found it fascinating to learn about the catalyst that inspired her to pursue writing these amazing children’s storybooks. Trudy’s books offer a refreshingly true to life ending, which sets them apart from the typical “happily ever after” in which we have grown so accustomed.
It normalizes the emotional experience of the bully and the bullied in a very relatable way. I highly recommend Trudy’s books for educators, mental health clinicians, parents, and children. Her stories serve as a springboard to illicit important conversations that deal with a multitude of issues.
1.) Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background. How did you get started as a children’s book author and what events lead up to it?
I grew up on the East Coast, the youngest of five children. I was a quiet, sensitive child, and I would completely lose myself in the stories I read. I loved how books transported me into the thoughts and feelings of the characters and the challenges they had to overcome.
Before becoming a children’s author, I was an advertising/marketing copywriter. I did this for about 15 years—even though I didn’t feel passionate about my craft. Don’t get me wrong. I knew I loved to write. I just didn’t love what I was writing.
My professional life shifted about 13 years ago when my daughter, a second grader at the time, became the target of some bullying friends. It was one of those experiences that had a profound effect on both of us.
In my search for age-appropriate books to address the very real and rampant problem of social cruelty among peers, I came up empty-handed. Frustrated with this resource gap, I wrote my first book, My Secret Bully, to help empower children to make healthier friendship choices. The outpour of positive reviews and heartfelt responses from young readers, parents, educators, and bullying prevention experts and organizations gave me the impetus to continue writing more books to help kids connect with their peers in helpful, rather than hurtful, ways.
2.) The majority of your books deal with bullying. Where do you get the ideas for dealing with this topic in such a variety of ways? Have you had personal experiences that influenced the storylines, things from people who’ve crossed your path, or maybe from stories you’ve heard?
I’ve volunteered in my children’s classrooms for many years and have gotten a lot of my ideas from observing students’ social interactions with one another. I’ve also been inspired by the personal experiences kids, parents, teachers, and school counselors have shared with me.
3.) Besides children, do you also consider the teachers, parents, caregivers, etc. part of the target audience you want to reach through your books? If so, why them as well?
Absolutely! I want to empower adults in their efforts to help children navigate their social world in kinder, healthier ways. Most of my titles include discussion questions that adults can readily use to generate thoughtful discussions with young readers in a safe social setting about a particular issue or topic that my book is addressing. I also typically have an expert share with parents, caregivers, educators, and counseling professionals their expertise and helpful tips, along with additional recommended resources for them to explore the topic further.
4.) What are some of the things you like to do when you’re not writing?
I’m just going to state the obvious, first: I love, love, love to read! I have a particular fondness for children’s and young adult literature. I also enjoy running, walking, and hiking in forests and parks. And I love to cook—which is probably why it’s a good thing that I like to run, walk, and hike!
5.) What books were childhood favorites of yours? Books you read as a teen? Have those influenced what you went on to read as an adult and perhaps even your writing?
Some of my childhood favorites were Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Road Dahl, and The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf. My teen favorites were the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories by Carolyn Keene. I had quite the collection of them! I also loved To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I do feel that the picture books I read and loved in my childhood did influence my writing and propelled me to become a children’s book author.
6.) Any particular authors or books that you love and would like to recommend to our readers?
It is hard for me to limit myself to mentioning just a few. Off the top of my head, some of my favorite kidlit and young adult books are: One by Kathryn Otoshi, Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, Rules by Cynthia Lord, Wonder by R.J. Palacio, Paperboy by Vince Vawter, Twerp by Mark Goldblatt, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I’m currently reading The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough and am savoring each page! My more recent adult fiction favorites include Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Stout and Euphoria by Lily Kin. My nonfiction top picks are Thrive by Arianna Huffington and Quiet by Susan Cain.
7.) Do you feel there have been changes in your writing as you’ve continued to write more books?
Yes, I’m currently altering my writing style by trying to say more with fewer words, which is no easy feat! I love the challenge of writing picture books in ways that allow my readers to find many layers of meaning and discovery in just a few pages. As librarian and author Molly Pearson so aptly states, picture books are “big ideas in small packages.”
8.) If you have one, which of the books you’ve authored is your favorite? Why? Or if you don’t have a personal favorite, which do you hear from others as their favorites?
Asking me, as an author, to tell you which of my books is my favorite is akin to asking me, as a parent, which child is my favorite. The answer to both questions is, “They’re all my favorite–for different reasons!”. With that said, I do hear from a lot of adults and children that The Invisible Boy is their favorite.
9.) Do you have any tips for teachers, mental health professionals, caregivers, etc. and children who read your books in order to get the most out of them that they can?
Adult-guided activities help instill critical thinking skills in children, getting them to understand and engage with the stories they read and with each other in constructive, pro-social ways. Role-playing scenarios, introspective essays, creative drawing/writing projects, and discussion questions are a few ways to accomplish this goal.
I encourage teachers, mental health professionals, parents, and caregivers to visit authors’ or publishers’ websites for ready-made lesson plans and activities they can use with the children in their world. Another option is to do a Google search on the Internet by entering the title of the book chosen for a class reading, for example, followed by the words “lessons” or “activities.” For example, if you type “WONDER lessons” in the Google search bar, you’ll find, “Teaching WONDER with Trudy Ludwig” (http://www.randomhouse.com/kids/choose-kind/pdf/trudy-ludwig-guide-wonder.pdf).
10.) Along with your books, how big of a role do your speaking engagements play in what you do and the messages you are trying to convey to others.
During the school year, I actually spend a majority of my time traveling and presenting at conferences and in schools to provide children, educators, and parents with practical tips, tools, and resources to help them create safer, kinder school communities. When I present to children in elementary and middle schools, I don’t want the students to just listen to me as a guest speaker. I also want them to do activities with me to help them better connect with the characters in my books, with themselves and, most importantly, with each other.
11.) Do you ever get feedback on your work making a genuine difference to individuals?
I get letters and emails from readers of all ages, sharing with me how my books resonated with them and helped them to better understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy friendships.
When I was presenting at a school in Washington, D.C., one of the parents asked me to sign her daughter’s Confessions of a Former Bully book. She apologized as she handed me the book, explaining that the reason it was so worn out, with the hardback spine bent out of shape, drink stains on the inside cover, and dog-eared pages, was that her daughter took that book with her wherever she went and read it repeatedly because it helped her when she was being bullied by some girls in her grade. That book was so used and loved by that little girl, it made my heart bubble. Other parents have shared with me that their children have slept with My Secret Bully at the foot of their beds! I’m so very grateful my stories provide comfort to my readers and empower them to connect with kids who can accept all the goodness they have to offer and give it back in kind.
12.) To wrap things up, what are your plans for the future? Do you have any new books in the works or special speaking engagements lined up? Here at Self Esteem Shop, we are certainly interested to see what you come up with next!
I just submitted a new picture book manuscript to my editor at Knopf / Penguin Random House for acquisition consideration. I’m waiting to hear back from her soon. I don’t want to jinx it, so forgive me if I don’t yet disclose what this new story is about.
With the school year now starting, I’ll be back on the road (or up in the sky), en route to schools and conferences for speaking engagements. I’m also hoping to start writing another story very soon. I am so grateful to my readers and lovely bookstores like The Self Esteem Shop for your ongoing support of my work. I wouldn’t be where I am today without you!
Dr. Laurie Zelinger, psychologist and author, is here to join us for this edition of Meet the Author.
I first met Dr. Laurie Zelinger several years ago at the New York Association for Play Therapy annual conference. Self Esteem Shop was exhibiting at the time and Dr. Zelinger approached us looking for specific puppets that would be the perfect fit for the children at the school where she worked. This level of passion stuck with me and became even more evident when I later received her book Please Explain Anxiety to Me from her publisher Victor Volkman at Loving Healing Press, which quickly became a personal favorite. It wasn’t long before our play therapy conference paths crossed again, where we began to converse and have since become better acquainted.
The story and coping skills offered in each of her books are engaging and reassuring for both parents and children, plus her contribution to other works like those on selective mutism in School Based Play Therapy, 2nd Edition are invaluable. She is the real deal.
1.) What inspired you to become a child psychologist and registered play therapist/supervisor?
That one is easy. In second grade I had a horrendous teacher who ridiculed and embarrassed me in front of the whole class. (Later I learned that she made a victim of one student every year). On the second day of school, she asked me to say what day of the week it was. I said, “Tuesday”. She insisted that it was not. I floundered, asked a friend for confirmation and replied, “Tuesday” again. She informed me that it was not in fact “Toosday”, but rather “T’ Yews Day”.
From there on in it went downhill. I became a school avoidant 7-year-old who was plagued by fears and night mares.
Finally, the school advised my parents to take me to a child psychologist. I went to this very lovely man twice, where I played, talked into a tape recorder, drew pictures and had a great time. That was my life changing moment. This guy must have been pretty good, because whatever he told the school seemed to have been spot on advice. The teacher remained a *****, but the assistant principal checked on me a lot, let me visit her, did some of the class work with me, and let me take breaks. I loved her. It was then that I decided that I wanted to be one of those adults who make kids feel valued and safe.
While my first love was probably the hopes of becoming a nurse, I fainted every time I stepped into a hospital lobby. Then for years, another flame burned for acting, but my college drama teacher told me that since I couldn’t juggle three balls ten times, I didn’t have the concentration ability to become an actress. By default, I went into psychology… and I couldn’t be happier.
2.) You recently revised Please Explain Anxiety to Me. What motivated you to make changes?
I felt it needed more techniques and I wanted kids to be able to identify with the negative thought loop that Worry Walrus had, providing clear visuals as to healthier alternative options to explain unexpected events. Having worked in schools for so many years, I saw how anxious children become when their parents were late in picking them up, so I used that example since it resonates with so many kids. I also included many more of the common fears that I’ve seen in young children.
3.) I love the metaphor using dinosaurs to describe the “fight, flight, freeze” response to anxiety in your book Please Explain Anxiety to Me. Is there any story behind selecting a dinosaur?
No, actually. I think I probably just had some dinosaurs handy in my office, and they loaned themselves well to scary roars when I imbued them with life. They also helped explain why some survival responses originated so very long ago.
4.) When should caregivers seek professional guidance for anxious children?
The thing about anxiety is if you give it an inch, it takes a yard. When anxiety is a response to an identifiable stressor, you can often modify something which will relieve the anxiety to some extent. However, when anxiety is chronic and free floating and interferes with functioning (i.e. sleep, eating, school, friendships) then professional support is usually needed.
5.) Your most recent book is A Smart Girl’s Guide to Liking Herself, even on the bad days. What age group do you recommend read this book? What do you hope girls will take away from reading this book?
Coming up with the title, particularly the phrase, “even on the bad days” is my summary of the pre-teen years. There are so many cliques and “clubs” that girls form, that leave the included feeling popular and the excluded or neglected kids feeling like outcasts and failures.
Developmentally, these years are when children begin to move away from parents and begin to affiliate with peers. This process of shifting is a critical one where children want to feel accepted and do whatever they can to fit in. They are always assessing themselves and each other and forming harsh judgments moment to moment. My goal was for each reader to feel okay in her own skin and to appreciate herself, even when things don’t go the way she hoped. It is my hope that each girl can get past her doubts, recognize her self-worth and know that bad days don’t last forever- things will improve.
6.) Is there a connection between the books you’ve written?
Yep, three of them arose from my experience. My first book was The “O MY” in TonsillectOMY and AdenoidectOMY; How to Prepare Your Child for Surgery which was a compilation of my notes when Jordan went underwent his surgery at age 6. I revised that recently when readers asked me to include information about complications, allowing me to consult with surgeons again in order to update some of the other medical information as well.
Please Explain Anxiety was born from my personal experience as an anxious child, and as an adult, my ability to help children deal with theirs. The chapter I wrote about selective mutism in School Based Play Therapy, 2nd edition came from family experience and tons of research.
The one book that didn’t originate with me was the American Girl book. They approached me to write it, but when I was a pre-teen, I certainly had my share of days when I felt like I was outside looking in.
7.) Tell us a little bit about your family. Your son is co-author of Please Explain Anxiety to Me. What is it like to author a book with a family member? Is he in the mental health field as well?
Ah, Jordan. He was in college when we began this project and syncing our priorities and circadian rhythms was no easy feat. I particularly remember a plane ride when he was captive in his window seat, and we got a lot of writing done. But that was many years ago. He has since graduated with his doctorate in psychology and is following in our footsteps, as my husband too, is a psychologist. Fred and I met at a psychology conference in 1978 and happily, we’re still going strong. Jordan is currently working in a neuropsychological testing practice in Manhattan, and will be starting his first job as a school psychologist in a Long Island public high school this September. Since we have different areas of expertise, we were usually able to blend our ideas. But when we differed, it was so tempting for me to pull rank and say, “Because I’m the mother… and I said so. That’s why!” (wink).
Since you asked, here’s a little about the rest of my family… Our oldest son is in finance, the next one in real estate, and the “baby” is in medical school. I live vicariously through him and can now even listen to his stories and still remain upright (LOL). My father was featured in the Huffington Post last month in an interview about significant memories of the older generation. He is nearly 98, and as he likes to say, “Has all his marbles.” His favorite activity is dancing with the women at his Assisted Living residence. Lastly, I have one brother. He is a craftsman and makes handmade Laubin oboes.
8.) Are there any particular books on anxiety and self-esteem that you recommend for parents and professionals?
I like Dawn Huebner’s series and am always recommending What to Do When You Dread Your Bed to my clients. It’s practical and engaging.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us today Dr. Zelinger, we look forward to your future work.
Thank you, Harry and Deanne for this opportunity. You’ve helped me to warm up my keyboard for my next book in the Please Explain series. Again, it will be published by Loving Healing Press.
You can find books by Laurie Zelinger here at the Self Esteem Shop.
Her own website can be found at http://www.drzelinger.com/