Sunday, August 5, 2007

Positive Psychologist and Author, Dr. Barbara Holstein Talks about The TRUTH

We're going to start August off with a bang. Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein, Ed. D, just released a new book in June titled THE TRUTH, My Secret Diary, I'm Ten, I'm Smart, and I Know Everything. Dr. Holstein is a leading positive psychologist who focuses on helping women to be happy, and live meaningful, purposeful lives by reclaiming their talents, strengths, and even lost potential. In addition to her private practice, she conducts seminars, lectures, tele-classes and workshops, and appears on radio and television. Dr. Holstein will chat with us about this book and her work as a positive psychologist.

Welcome to The Book Connection Dr. Holstein. It is a distinct pleasure to have this chance to speak with you.

I'm thrilled to join you.

Let's start off by getting to know you better. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your work?

I am a Positive Psychologist in private practice in New Jersey. I've had a practice, shared with my husband, Dr. Russell Holstein for 25 years. I've also been a school psychologist, and I taught 1st and 2nd grades. On a personal note, I love mystery stories, laughing, being with people who are interesting and pleasant, eating great food and meeting strangers. I am really passionate about helping women led better, happier lives.

What is a positive psychologist?

A positive psychologist focuses on, along with treating a person's problems, talents, potential, and resilience in the client. A positive psychologist is eager to strengthen a person's sense of hope and optimism and is looking often at what is right about the person rather than what is wrong.

Are they different from other psychologists?

Yes, in the sense that many psychologists have been trained to look for pathology and treat it. Positive Psychology augments and broadens that position in the treatment room.

How would people go about finding a positive psychologist if they needed one?

I would suggest calling the American Psychological Association in Washington, D. C. or the state psychological agency in the state you live in. They will have names.

Your first book (The Enchanted Self, A Positive Therapy) was published in 1997. What made you begin writing self-help books?

When I had my 'aha' moment examining the answers women gave me to my case study questionnaire about growing up and the messages that linger in us as adult women, I knew I had to write a self-help book. I just couldn't sit quietly on the truth I had discovered. That truth was that women have so much more capacity for happiness, positive states of being and joy than we recognize in ourselves or that society recognizes and/or reinforces. I realized that unless I took my discovery public I would be part of the cycle, already hundreds of years old, of not giving women all the information that they needed about themselves. I couldn't do that! I had to share and I called what I discovered and how to find it in yourself, THE ENCHANTED SELF(R).

Ten years later, you have four published books, a radio program, a wide-read e-radio magazine, and you appear on television in New York and New Jersey. Why do you think positive psychology is so popular and necessary in today's society?

We live in a very negative culture in terms of what we hear on the news. We also live in a culture geared to externals rather than the internal parts of ourselves. Positive Psychology helps people to find what is best about themselves from the inside out, not the outside in. When we work with who we really are and we don't get caught up in externals values such as how thin we are, we have a chance for true happiness and to really live lives of meaning.

Let's talk about THE TRUTH, My Secret Diary, I'm Ten, I'm Smart, and I Know Everything. Can you tell us what this book is about?

My new book, THE TRUTH, My Secret Diary, I'm Ten, I'm Smart and I Know Everything, is a delightful, humorous secret diary, written by a girl who is 10-11 years of age. She is wise and yet so innocent. She makes us cry and laugh and remember ourselves. Behind this very easy read is the psychological message to the women reading THE TRUTH that they can and must recapture the fire and passion of their girlhoods not only for themselves to flourish and be happy, but for the next generation to also have the gifts of good emotional and spiritual health.

Women love the book and so do girls, ages 10-14. Women find it a pure delight-a hot fudge sundae with a secret message inside and no weight gain, while girls recognize themselves and finally feel totally understood.

With everything you've done and written about in your previous books and articles, why did you feel inspired to write THE TRUTH?

I felt complelled to write THE TRUTH because women do have an unique path back to happiness that has been sorely overlooked. That path is themselves and in particular, the parts of themselves that had sparks of energy, enthusiasm and wisdom way back into childhood. Here's how I put it:

THE TRUTH... how do we carry the truth from girlhood to adulthood? That priceless 'truth' that we all recognize as kids? How do we walk over that bridge into growing up, carrying the Truth? Remember that truth? It was filled with an appreciation for affection, a capacity for humor, a love of new adventures, a delight in just being alive. It recognized wisdom and what was right as well as what was wrong. How do we recognize THE TRUTH in our children and help them carry their most precious selves into adulthood?

What if we could pass the gift of our early wisdom and brilliance along to our children, giving them permission to hold on to their most precious jewels. What if we can rekindle it in ourselves so that we are filled with passion and energy?

You've taken a unique approach with THE TRUTH, using the diary of a ten-year-old girl to share an important message with your readers. Why did you choose this format?

Because it was through 'the girl's' voice that I could most honestly portray what I was trying to recapture and to ignite in the reader.

As I read the excerpts of THE TRUTH, I was laughing just thinking about my own childhood and what it will be like to watch my daughters grow up. How important was the ingredient of humor in this book? How did you manage to weave in the message you want your readers to take from this book while keeping it a light and easy read?

Humor was very important. We have to be able to laugh at ourselves and yet at the same time have compassion for all our adventures and misadventures.

As far as how did I weave in the message, I just let 'the girl' come alive. She really did become her own beacon of light and she lead the way as the book developed as to what she would be sharing with us and in what form.

If you had to describe THE TRUTH in only one sentence, what would it be?

THE TRUTH, I'm Ten, I'm Smart and I Know Everything! is a fun read in which you laugh, cry, identify with the girl and learn once again how to have fun, enjoy the delights of life, be honest, and best of all find yourself again in a marvelous way that can be enjoyed by all--including your kids.

Should we expect more books from you in the future? Are there any writing projects you are currently working on?

Yes, defiantly expect more books. I'm already more than half way through the sequel to this book in which the girl becomes 12-14 and boy does she still have a lot to say and to teach us!

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Just that I am so eager for mothers and daughters to read this book and can't wait for your reactions. Please feel free to write to me at

I thank you for joining us today Dr. Holstein. THE TRUTH sounds like a book everyone should read. I wish you continued success and much happiness in the future.

Thanks so much. I loved talking to you!

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