In my books, both fiction and nonfiction, I explore different ways we renew our creativity and hopefulness while remaining loyal to the roles and responsibilities that we hold dear, whether it be a job, marriage, parenting, our sense of where we’ve come from, the connection to our faith, or service to our country. How to stay “me” while also being a part of “we.” Recently, I turned to fiction , in order to dig deeper into this question. My new novel is The Stethoscope Cure, an intimate portrait of the inner life of a young psychiatrist, struggling with his career and marriage, and his very sense of self.
As an educator, I teach both psychologists and teachers. At the core of my work is teaching ways of listening to people, understanding what they are saying, and responding in a way that makes a difference in their lives. I am most interested in the possibilities that an authentic response from a therapist, a parent, a spouse, a teacher, makes in the lives of a person
As a psychotherapist, I am most interested in the hopes, desires, and conflicts that are half-known or even unknown to us, parts of ourselves that we can’t really access alone and that need the participation of a trustworthy other person to come into focus.
I'm a Professor of Psychology at the Fielding Graduate University, an innovative professionally- accredited dispersed-learning University that draws students from around the country. At Fielding, I direct the Alonso Center for Psychodynamic Studies. Most Fielding students are already established in their careers before deciding to go back to school to earn a PhD in Clinical Psychology. I have also taught at more traditional Universities: UMass- Boston, MIT, Harvard, and the Harvard Medical School. I am also on the faculty of the Stanley King Counseling Institute, which teaches listening skills to teachers, advisors, administrators, and other school personnel in order to help teachers strengthen and deepen their relationships with students.
I am an active speaker and lecturer, and I have written for a variety of magazines and newspapers, including The Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Cosmopolitan, Utne Reader, and The Miami Herald. I have appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, The Regis Philbin show, and several NPR broadcasts, including OnPoint and The Exchange.
As a psychologist, I maintain an active private practice of psychotherapy, in Cambridge, Mass.
And, I write books, both fiction and nonfiction. Over a span of thirty years, I have written a series of well- received nonfiction books. A common theme in all of them is the challenge of infusing roles with an authentic sense of self. Each book was born out of my own experience. One of the advantages of being a psychologist is that you get to study what gives you trouble. I have studied and written about the desire to change careers at midlife, about the profound relationship between grown sons and their fathers, about parenting, and about the search to enliven and feel truly at home in your religious faith. Each of these books explores a core human struggle: how to feel like “me” without losing the “we.”
After years of writing nonfiction, I have turned to fiction. My novel, The Stethoscope Cure, centers on a young psychiatrist just holding on by a thread as he tries to deal with the flood of vets coming into a VA hospital during the Vietnam War. This is a time when I, too, came of age professionally, doing my internship in the Boston VA hospital in the late Sixties. The story is not a thinly-disguised rendering of my own experience, though it does draw on what I observed at the time. I am fascinated by the inner life of therapists, particularly the wonderful irony that we are often able to help other people when we are so dearly in need of help ourselves. The struggle of Dr. Paul Gilverstein—the novel’s main character—to be true to himself and his experiences without abandoning his responsibilities to others (his patients and his marriage , in particular) is a central question for us all today. The Stethoscope Cure offers an exploration of what it means to really listen to someone else, to truly hear and respond to those we are involved with.
Finally, I am the father of a son and daughter. My spouse is a social worker and a musician. Two years ago, on my birthday, my wife appeared with a beautiful tenor ukulele. “You’ve always wanted to learn a musical instrument. Now’s the time.” Trailing behind her was my daughter, with a book of ukulele lessons. I try to practice every day and I am getting better. Slowly.