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Psychology America with Dr. Alexandra
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Psychology America with Dr. Alexandra

Author: Dr. Alexandra, Psychologist

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With warmth, heart and a respect for science, Dr. Alexandra and her guests explore questions that come up at all life stages.  Dr. Alexandra is a mother of four and an expert in family systems psychology and clinical psychopharmacology. Through interesting exchanges with her guests, Dr. Alexandra brings new learning, stories and good company to listeners.
40 Episodes
It surprised me to learn that we have over two million people in prison in the United States.  The majority of individuals in prison will eventually be released into the community. . . and who will they become after the prison experience?  This episode presents the results of research just completed on a novel therapy for rehabilitating men in a maximum security prisons.    Learn the elements of an approach which seeks to address the root of the problem, and in the process learn techniques for healing and breaking free of anger and resentment.Guest Dr. Maria Gambaro is a licensed psychologist who has dedicated the last twelve years of her life to forgiveness counseling, research and assessment. She is one of the principle authors of the research and paper we will cover today. Guest Dr. Robert Enright is the founder of the International Forgiveness Institute and has been featured in Time Magazine and ABC’s 20/20 as the pioneer of the scientific study of forgiveness.  Dr. Enright is a professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and is the author of the Eight Keys to Forgiveness.    This is the second time I have had Dr. Enright on the show - find him in a previous very popular episode entitled “How to Forgive.” 
Historical figures like George Washington and Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus can teach us about humility and virtue in politics and life.   Host Randolph "Wolf" Shipon and I discussed these topics and more on the American Unity Radio podcast, in which Dr. Shipon seeks to bring a divided America closer together.  He talks about putting red, white and blue together to form “purple people.”  Enjoy!
Google Scholar data ranked Steven C. Hayes among the top 1,500 most cited scholars on the planet, in all areas of study, living and dead.  He is the founder of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) which brings in mindfulness, acceptance and value based methods to relieve human suffering.  I enjoyed and recommend his most recent book “A Liberated Mind: How to Pivot Toward What Matters.”   Learn more about him at  May you enjoy the wisdom of Steven C. Hayes as much as I did!  
In this episode Dr. Kendahl Shortway shares the results of her recent study entitled:  “New Jersey Coaches and Athletic Directors Perspectives:  Gender Nonbinary Athletes.”     Dr. Shortway, Neill Clark and I also discuss:   Important definitions, including the meaning of “nonbinary,” transgender, genderfluid, cisgender LGBTQA+ and more for listeners who are unfamiliarConcepts and questions about the psychology and biology of genderWhat the NCAA and Olympic Committee rules state as it relates to participation by transgender athletes.  Dr. Kendahl Shortway, PsyD is the co-author of the Routledge Handbook of Clinical Sport Psychology (in publication 2020) and much of her research has focused on sports psychology.    She teaches and serves as research coordinator at Kean University.Neill Clark, formerly a NCAA Division 1 Track and Field athlete and currently a master’s competitive athlete in running and swimming, offers his perspective as an athlete and an attorney.  Yesterday (6-15-20) the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VII, protects transgender & homosexual people from workplace discrimination.  Listen to this podcast for a primer on LBGTQA+ terms, definitions and concepts and learn about the controversial topic of transgender athletes competing in sports.     
In this recorded talk Dr. Alexandra shares wisdom from Rumi, Petrarch, Nelson Mandela, positive psychology and more.    A special thank you to Mr. Gary Kitchell for his photo of the sunrise.  
This episode is about identifying our values and living according to them, including strategies to help us from getting distracted and derailed.   In this episode Tom Russo, author of There are no Politics in Heaven, shares some of the life lessons he has learned including overcoming his earlier years of being bullied, escaping into the unsavory aspects of political power, finding and living according to his deepest values and transforming into a servant-leader.    Dr. Alexandra teaches listeners about Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) along the way.   Thomas Russo, a former elected official in two NJ municipalities, currently serves as town manager of Newton NJ in addition to teaching at Seton Hall University and Pillar College.  
Dr. Alexandra, Dr. Michelle Pievsky and Neill Clark share seven practical tips on how to cope with stressful and unexpected circumstances.For further podcasts that may be particularly helpful for coping during COVID 19, search Psychology America with Dr. Alexandra for. . . .Caring for our Immune System:#31. Mind Your Microbiota#16.  Your Best SleepGeneral Coping:  #4.  Facing Our Fears#25. Resilience, Overcoming and Fortitude#20.  For Couples:  The Second Shift#5.  When Our Thoughts Get in the Way (and How to Get Relief)#19. Facing the Unknown Part 1#29. GriefThank you to my 5th grade son George for the cover artwork.  Find his artwork and photography on toads and more at his artwork (@grego.andrew).  
I so enjoyed this conversation on the “Love and Psychology of Dogs” and am excited to share it with you!  The guests on this podcast episode are Dr. Nancy Shay, veterinarian and Jeannette Carpenter, dog walker.   Join us as we discuss the following and more:our thoughts on recent research on the “intelligence,” including emotional intelligence, of dogs dogs’ emotions and sense of moralityamazing research on the effects dog ownership has on the health of children and adults Dr. Nancy has worked at the Highlands Veterinary Hospital in Sparta, New Jersey for 22 years.  She has a special interest in physical rehabilitation and animal behavior.  She earned her veterinary degree from University College Dublin Veterinary School of Ireland and is currently working toward her certification in canine rehabilitation.Jeannette Carpenter has owned her own dog walker/pet sitter business for 10 years.   I have aways enjoyed and appreciated her funny and moving stories about her “clients.”  In this recorded conversation I especially enjoyed learning about her two styles of walks she gives her dogs.     Enjoy!   
I am grateful to have experienced joy and even bliss when my children were infants and toddlers, but this is not always the case.  In fact, on this show I learned that 80% of mothers experience postpartum blues.    In this episode you’ll also learn: Advice on screen time for infants and toddlersInfants, toddlers and sleepThe best way for little ones to learn languageHow to discipline a toddlerWhat both she and I might do differently in raising our infants and toddlersDr. Michelle Arkow Pievsky, PhD is an expert on the psychology of infants and toddlers and serves as a fellow at both Youth Consultation Service Institute for Infant and Preschool Mental Health in East Orange, NJ and at Mindful Assessment and Psychological Services in Pequannock, NJ.  Her many publications include a meta analysis on the neurocognitive profile of ADHD.  Last year Dr. Pievsky presented on many topics, including  “Autism Spectrum Disorder in Primary Care” and “A Behavioral Health Toolbox for Pediatricians.”  Enjoy!  
This episode inspired me to change the way I eat and I’m excited to share this topic with others.   Guest Jeanne Petrucci and I discuss the connection between our mood, our health and the gut, including: *  Promising research on how our gut impacts our mood and vice versa*  What it means for the gut to be “leaky” and its relation to inflammation and the immune system*  The gut and the increase in food sensitivities *  What to feed the gut for your health and cancer prevention*  The role of fecal transplants*  What pregnant women and parents of young children need to know about the gutJeanne Petrucci is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and the founder of Living Plate (, an organization which seeks out the latest scientific research on nutrition and then shares that information through educational and culinary programs.  Enjoy!  
With compassion and elegance the guest on today’s episode, Dr. Nancy McWilliams, helps listeners understand the following and more:  What is healthy versus pathological narcissism? Can certain parenting create narcissistic personalities?What are some practical suggestions for those in a romantic relationship with a partner with narcissistic tendencies?What does it feel like if you have narcissistic personality disorder and what can help?What is overt, covert and psychopathic narcissism?What if you work for someone with narcissistic tendencies? How can companies spot narcissistic tendencies when hiring leaders?Dr. Nancy McWilliams ( teaches at Rutgers University’s Graduate School of Applied & Professional Psychology and practices in Lambertville, New Jersey. She is author of Psychoanalytic Diagnosis (1994, rev. ed. 2011), Psychoanalytic Case Formulation (1999), and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy (2004) and is associate editor of the Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual, 2nd ed. (2017). A former president of Division 39 (Psychoanalysis) of the American Psychological Association, she has been featured in three APA videos of master clinicians, the most recent being “Three Approaches to Psychotherapy.” Her books are available in 20 languages; she lectures widely both nationally and internationally.Enjoy!  



Guest Dr. Deb Bernstein ( endured the loss of her young brother, her young romantic love and most recently both her mother and father.  As a clinical psychologist she has specialized in grief through research and through her 35 year private practice in Warwick, NY.  In this episode Dr. Deb and I discuss the following and more:   The many and varied symptoms of acute grief and how long it lasts How our relationship with the deceased affects our grief, such as when we have mixed feelings about them How Elizabeth Kubler-Ross apologized about how her “Stages of Grief” were misconstrued How to respond to a grieving friend Strategies for copingSome books and authors we brought up in our conversation include:  When the Bough Breaks:  Forever After the Death of a Son or Daughter  by Judith R. Bernstein, Ph.D.Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy, Fifth Edition:  A Handbook for the Mental Health Practitioner  by J. William Worden PhDThe Other Side of Sadness: What the New Science of Bereavement Tells Us About Life After Loss by George A. Bonanno Ph.D.
Discuss Dementia

Discuss Dementia


Did you know that most people with dementia don’t notice that they’ve had memory loss or personality changes?  It tends to be relatives and close friends that notice it and then encourage the individual to seek an evaluation. I learned from the guest on this episode that the “self awareness” part of the brain is likely to be one of the areas harmed by dementia!     In this episode, also learn: How do Dementia symptoms differ from normal aging?  How can one tell the difference between Dementia and depression?  What does research recommend on how to prevent dementia?What steps should you or family take once a Dementia diagnosis has been made?What is the latest technology on identifying Alzheimer’s Disease?What is it like for those caring for the Dementia patient?  The guest on today’s episode is Dr. Michelle Papka (, 973-850-4622), who has nearly 25 years' combined experience as a researcher and clinician specializing in the field of aging, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia. She practices as a neuropsychologist, psychotherapist, and researcher, and has served as the Principal Investigator on over 20 recent clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease, memory impairment, or mild cognitive impairment.She’s had numerous publications of her work and is an active public speaker, invited editor, grant reviewer, consultant, and committee member of multiple specialized organizations and publications in the field of aging and Alzheimer’s Disease. 
Your heart is racing,  your hands are tingling, you can’t breathe and you wonder:  “Is this a heart attack?  Why does it feel like the world is crashing down on me?”In this episode learn: * What a panic attack is and is not* Evidence-based strategies for overcoming panic* The role of medication when treating panic disorder *  The treatment approach for Tourette’s syndrome, a disorder related to motor and vocal tics, another expertise held by the episode guest.   Expert guest for this episode is Dr. Rob Zambrano, a psychologist at Stress and Anxiety Services of New Jersey (  Dr. Zambrano, who specializes in panic, Tourette’s syndrome and the anxiety spectrum disorders, will surprise listeners with what may seem like a paradoxical strategy to overcoming a panic attack.  This episode is dedicated to Ginnie’s House, a non-profit organization which provides 100% free therapy to abused children and their caregivers.  Learn more at Thank you _geogre.art_ , my son, for the photograph.
Two days after my first baby Rebecca was born, as I held her, nursed her and loved her so much, I also mourned. . . knowing that one day I would need to let her go.    Now she’s seventeen, lovely, and about to enter her senior year of high school.  At the end of next summer she’ll be living at college.  It’ll soon be the start of her launch, and her freedom.  When she comes back, she’ll have already tasted independence like never before. . . In this episode on “Launching Children and Letting Go” learn about:  What it’s like for parents after children are launchedHealthy and unhealthy attachmentWhat it means when the adolescent or teenager “pulls away” How to prevent secrets and lying with adolescents and teenagersHow to “let go” of childrenHow to assist children with moving toward independenceInspirational examplesSong by Tom Askin of PonderRosa Studios, butterfly illustration by Briana Giasullo
Parents like myself would like to know that their children will “be okay” and bounce back should bad things happen to them, and tough times will inevitably happen in life.  How can we build skills in ourselves and in our children to be able to “bounce back” and grow stronger from adversity?Expert guest Heidi Keller, PhD discusses resilience, how we can have more of it and how we can teach our children to have more of it.   Dr. Keller, a clinical psychologist, has been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and at the end of the episode she talks about how what she has learned about resilience has helped her.  Other topics discussed include:  Three practical questions that help build resilience in adults and childrenThree ways the people who have experienced abuse or trauma are different than othersHow the self-esteem movement in the United States was unhelpfulThe wrong way to compliment a child and the best way to give a child encouragementWhat the U.S. military does to teach soldiers resilienceFor listeners who are couples. . . remember from Episode #9 on this show entitled “The Honeymoon Phase of Love” when we talked about how in order to keep those honeymoon feelings going beyond the first six months of your relationship, you need to actively do new & interesting things together?   For listeners local to New Jersey/New York/Pennsylvania, please consider attending the MS FunRaiser July 02nd 2019 at Farmstead Golf and Country Club in Lafayette, NJ.  This dinner and dancing event features Val and Jenna from ABC TV’s Dancing with the Stars.   Money raised from tickets and donations will help and support those Multiple Sclerosis, MS, in this region of the United States.  This event is run by the guest on this show, Dr. Heidi Keller.  E-mail for tickets.P.S. The photo used as artwork for this show was taken by my 10 year old son George (_geogre.art_)who was given the assignment "create a photo that represents resilience."  This gave me a chance to teach him about what resilience means!    
Fatherhood and Identity

Fatherhood and Identity


I am excited to share this episode with you not only because Kevin is a dear friend from college but because he is one of the most delightful and interesting people I know!    Our conversation in this episode includes:   What it’s like for non-traditional and African American fathers battling stereotype expectations about fatherhoodHow men’s bodies change once they become fathers, including decreases in testosteroneThe “father culture” of SwedenFathers in prison“Dead Broke” DadsReforming child support to include the economic value of “time spent.”Spoken and unspoken rules about storytelling and its impact on societyKevin Maillard ( is Professor of Law at Syracuse University and a contributing editor to the New York Times.  He specializes in Family Law, Constitutional Law, and popular culture. He also has written for The Atlantic and has provided on-air commentary to ABC News and MSNBC. He is the co-editor of Loving v. Virginia in a Post-Racial World (with Rose Villazor, Cambridge 2012).  An enrolled member of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, he is the author of the forthcoming 2019 children's book, FRY BREAD.  Neill W. Clark, father of four, adds commentary to this conversation.Enjoy!  
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is characterized by having a combination of obsessions (when you have repetitive persistent worries that are hard to dismiss) and compulsions or rituals (these provide temporary relief from obsessions).  These obsessions and compulsions are very disruptive - disruptive enough to create problems in one’s relationships, work, school or general functioning.  Do you think you have OCD or do you suspect a loved one or co-worker has it?  Learn about the true definition of OCD, evidence based treatments and helpful resources through this episode of Psychology America with Dr. Alexandra.  I love the stories this guest shares!  Expert guest Dr. Allen Weg, psychologist, is the Co-Founder and President of the Board of OCD New Jersey, an affiliate of the International OCD Foundation.  He is the author and presenter of  "OCD Tips," a series of short YouTube video clips and the author of OCD Treatment Through Storytelling: A Strategy for Successful Therapy.  Dr. Weg has been featured as an OCD expert on on the ABC’s 20/20 and NPR’s Voices in the Family.  He is the Founder and Director of Stress and Anxiety Services of New Jersey (, where he specializes in cognitive behavioral and other evidence-based treatment of OCD, PTSD, and other anxiety disorders.    Over 80% of Dr. Weg’s clients in his practice present with a primary diagnosis of OCD or PTSD.   To learn more about OCD Dr. Weg recommends    Enjoy!  
Individuals identified as having Borderline Personality Disorder may show some or all of these symptoms: intense emotions, frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment, recurring conflict in relationships, impulsive or reckless behavior, self harm, chronic feelings of loneliness or boredom, frequent outbursts of anger, switching between loving someone and then hating them and suspiciousness about others.  In this episode learn:  What is Borderline Personality Disorder and how can we better understand it?What it’s like for family members and loved ones and what can they do to cope or help?How can things improve for individuals diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder?Expert guest Emily Biggs-Heisler has worked on a treatment study at the New York State Psychiatric Institute comparing the effectiveness of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) to Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) in a population with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).  Her dissertation at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey is examining the interpersonal mechanisms of suicidal and non-suicidal behaviors in individuals diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder.  At Cognitive Behavior Consultants, New York City, she is implementing adherent DBT with adolescents and adults.  Lastly, Emily is serves as a Behavioral Health Consultant in an integrated setting at North Hudson Community Action Corporation in Passaic, NJ.  Neill Clark, attorney, joined the conversation to bring a non-clinical perspective to this topic.  To identify professionals with expertise in treating Borderline Personality Disorder consider as a start or search of Dialectical Behavior Therapy.  
If you haven’t had a chance to hear this podcast episode I highly recommend it!  Fascinating new learning from Robert McGrath, Ph.D. who just co-authored (with Ryan Niemiec) The Power of Character Strengths:  Appreciate and Ignite Your Positive Personality (, a book which teaches us about positive psychology while offering practical “how to” ideas for self improvement.   The delightful conversation in this podcast offers interesting ideas and stories gleaned from Dr. McGrath’s world expertise on positive psychology, including:  * What are the six virtues that religious and moral traditions across the planet have in common?*  What have studies of over one million people determined to be the “essential three” virtues*  What does it really take to be a good person?* What are the roles of courage, curiosity and humor?* What can Ben Franklin teach us about virtues?* Can we have too much of a virtue?* What happens if you are great at one virtue but lousy at another, are you still virtuous? *  Are virtues seen in animals?
Comments (1)

Daniel Taylor

loved the show and really identified with Dr. Mallow and his nurturing lifestyle with his children and his fight with stereotypes of fathers. One thought I had concerning his comments about other people feeling free to share their opinions, publicly, with him possibly from their own narrative: is it possible that the reason that people want to touch a pregnant women's belly or comment on social norms is that people have a need to be in community and have value within that framework and for some reason, in our modern world, the isolation of our independence is a cause of social inappropriateness? I'm not saying the old lady had a right to speak into anyone's life, but it seems like it's normal to seek connection and maybe she wasn't talking so much to Dr Mallow but really desiring connection. anyway loved the conversation.

Oct 18th
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