Saturday, April 5, 2008

Bookshelf: Interview with Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein

Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein, nationally known Positive Psychologist and Happiness Coach speaks regularly on radio programs around the country, is the host of her own radio shows and appears on television in New York and New Jersey. Her newest e-radio show is Kids, Tweens and Teens, A Positive Psychologist looks at all three, on Listen to it live on Mondays at 4:30PM EDT or download it as a podcast 24/7. Her inspiring e-radio show archives can also be found on the web in many places including where she has another e-radio show called THE ENCHANTED SELF. Dr. Holstein is the author of four books, including her latest, The Truth (I'm a girl, I'm smart and I know everything). She is in private practice in Long Branch, New Jersey with her husband, Dr. Russell M. Holstein. You can sign up for her e-mail newsletter and/or her daily blessings at Her blog is The Enchanted Self at

INN: Your book tells the story of a young girl going through puberty. What drew you to this particular topic?

BBH: Every stage of life is difficult but perhaps the most difficult time of all is leaving childhood behind and trying to figure out how to be a grown-up. We all spend years trying to figure this out! And we all need to find ways to hold on to the best of ourselves as we transition. Since a good story can be universal at its core, I decided to let a girl share her dilemmas and achievements, worries and wisdom, knowing that we can all relate.

INN: What's the craziest experience you've had with 10/11-year-old girls?

BBH: Probably my own when I was 11 and moving. After we had lunch at one of the girl's homes -homemade with chicken pot pie and chocolate cake, we were to take a public bus to the local amusement park. On the way, I got a horrible stomach ache and was in such pain I couldn't get off the bus. So all the girls went to the park anyway and had my party. I stayed on the bus until it returned me to my neighborhood. Then I got into bed in pain until my mother came home. I have never eaten chicken pot pie again!

INN: I love your title! There's been a lot of talk, from Reviving Ophelia to Queen Bees and Wannabes more recently, about how young adolescent girls are short-changed by society-- resulting in horrible self-image, academic intimidation, depression and worse. What's your advice to a teen girl on surviving the challenges that come with growing up?

BBH: My advice is to find a way, somehow, to hold on to the best of herself. The girl in The Truth (I'm a girl, I'm smart and I know everything) finally figures out a solution to moving from girlhood to being a teen. It is an unusual solution, tied into her passions and interests, but it grounds her and makes her feel safe and connected to herself. I think reading this book will help other girls think of their own solutions. And once we hold on to ourselves no one can blow us away!

INN: What do you say to a teen boy trying to understand why teen girls are so crazy?

BBH: Good question. I would tell him that boys and girls develop at different rates and our brains also focus on information in different ways. We all go crazy a bit when we are teens. Boys get hormonal surges that can make them want to ride motorcycles and speed and do daring tricks. Girls have tons of hormones also and get extremely social and talkative. Also girls laugh a lot and that's not so bad. We are really quite different. Fortunately we all level out a bit by the time we grow up and it isn't as hard to understand each other. Just wait!

INN: How did you break into publication?

BBH: I wrote an academic book first-The Enchanted Self, A Positive Therapy, one of the first books in the field of Positive Psychology. Once I did that I found I just couldn't stop writing! And I was very lucky, that book was published by an academic press who really helped me understand the ropes as far as taking a book from an idea to a published book.
INN: Any advice for teen writers?

BBH: Don't be shy. Write everyday and you will see that you begin to develop a style-a way with words that really suits you. For me, it was the way I could think of almost a trick ending when I would write a story. I just had a certain feel for how something should end. But I don't think that would have happened if I didn't write all the time in high school. I kept a diary and wrote poetry and took any paper I had to write very seriously. My persistence was critical. Remember it is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. I wish you all good luck. Maybe some of you will turn out like me. I'm a professional psychologist but I'm also a writer. It is great to have more than one outlet.
Thank you, Dr. Holstein!

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