Karen Sherman, Ph.D.
For over 25 years, Dr. Karen Sherman has been assisting clients with marital and other relationship issues; as well as inspiring them to remove blockages hindering the actualization of full potential. From her empowerment center in Plainview, New York; Dr. Sherman’s candid approach is earmarked by her slogan, “Get Unstuck in Your Life and Relationships.” To this end she has authored two books, Marriage Magic! Find It, Keep It, and Make It Last and Mindfulness and the Art of Choice: Transform Your Life; the latter of which is an award-winning self-help book. Sherman is an educator at a nearby university, as well as a regular guest on radio broadcasts. Her expert opinion has been featured in Woman’s World, Family Circle, Men’s Health, Woman’s Day, Newsday, Self, The Bridal Book, Crain’s NY and the Albany Gazette; to name a few. Dr. Sherman took time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions about her career and practice, as well as to share personal insights born of many years in the field.
Dr. Sherman, what prompted you to specialize in the area of relationships?
The truth is that I started being a relationship expert at the age of 8. My parents had a lousy marriage, and because of their dysfunction, they put me in the middle of it. Since then, this has become my life’s work and passion. I want nothing more than to make sure that other couples learn what they have to in order to have a happy relationship and that other little kids don’t have to feel the pain I did.
Throughout my life, I always loved listening to people and observing them. I felt there were great secrets to be discovered. When I went to college and studied psychology, I actually found bold-faced terms for behaviors I had observed! Imagine being able to do every day what I so enjoyed!
Writing books is not a simple task! What inspired you to pen yours?
I wrote about areas where I was personally impacted and felt that I wanted to help others. At one point, I felt that my own marriage was getting stale. Additionally, though many of the couples I was seeing in my practice didn’t want to get divorced, they weren’t happy. Thus, I decided to write a book to help couples learn the tools they needed to make their marriages more successful.
The second book resulted after a long personal depression. Through the help of a very skilled therapist, I underwent a very different kind of therapy that was not just talk therapy. It was SO helpful to me that I then used it with my individual clients and found it effective with them also. I decided that these tools had to be shared with an audience outside my office.
Would you share with us highlights from your educational years?
After college, I immediately went on for my Master's. During the summer, I met the man I would eventually marry. I went back to school but realized that a long-distance relationship was hard to keep. So I got my Master's but decided to stop at that level. Years later, after my first child was 2, I went back for my Ph.D.
During that time period, what would you identify as your greatest challenge?
Deciding to go for my Ph.D. while raising children.
If a reader wanted to follow in your footsteps; i.e. become a relationship expert, what wisdom would you offer to them?
Get your educational degree before you have children. It’s a horrible drain on you and takes away from your time with your family.
What is special or rewarding about working in the relationship field?
Knowing that I am truly making a difference in people’s lives. Not too long ago, I was at a wedding and a young couple came up to me to remind me that they were former clients. They told me that if it hadn’t been for our work together, they wouldn’t still be married ... and that they were very happy. It absolutely was the best!
What would you change about this specialty to make it better?
I wouldn’t have to work night hours.
Please tell me about your background as a young person. Did you come from an academic family?
My mother was academically oriented - she had gone to college and later in life pursued a graduate degree.
What one thing do you hope to have accomplished by the end of your career?
To feel at personal peace that through the various efforts I have made to put out information via my practice, books, articles, radio show, monthly newsletter, workshops, speaking engagements and teaching, I will have touched people and made a difference.
Any parting wisdom?
To this day, I think it’s important to keep learning and adjusting to what’s new in the field so that I can offer people the best that I can. I also feel strongly that when clients look for a therapist, it’s important they “shop.” Though finances are important to consider, don’t just settle for someone who’s the most economical. Make sure you look for the person who feels right to you and for someone who addresses your needs.