Dr. Carolyn Daitch, an internationally renowned psychologist, trainer, author, and presenter, teaches individuals and groups to recognize and manage stress and anxiety. She is the Director of the Center for the Treatment of Anxiety Disorders in Farmington Hills, Michigan. She is a certified and approved consultant and fellow with the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis and a certified Imago therapist. Dr. Daitch routinely gives pieces of training to practitioners in the United States and abroad.
Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?
I grew up in SE Michigan, the younger of two children. I was influenced by my large extended family. My mother was orphaned as a teenager and learned to be stoic, strong, and empathic. My parents were both loving, modeled compassion, and valued family.
Although our family had limited financial resources, I was able to attend The University of Michigan. In graduate school, I paid my own way with teaching, savings, and grants.
What is something you wish you had realized earlier in your life?
How decisions made early in adult life can affect you forever. Life is a series of choices. It is important to recognize that making a bad vs a wise decision will put you on a trajectory that may surprise you later in life.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
That talk therapy that focuses primarily on what went wrong in your childhood will lead to changes in thought patterns, behavior, and reactions. My approaches are more strategic and focus generally on a person’s present life and future.
Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?
One dark period stands out: In 1999, my mother died, my son was going through a difficult time as a teenager, and my husband lost his job. Through my own suffering, I became more humble and more compassionate to the others who suffer as well.
I learn again and again that suffering is part of the human experience and keeps us connected. I also learned that everything is transient, the good, the bad, and the ugly.
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
I was fortunate to select a profession for which I was well suited. My continued fascination with both the practice and teaching of psychotherapy has been important. Also having established niche areas including hypnosis, anxiety treatment, and relationship therapy have no doubt contributed. My passion to help those who are suffering has also been key.
What is your morning routine?
My morning ritual is: I wake up at around 6:00 AM; drink a glass of water with lemon; then coffee; followed by 20 minutes of meditation. Then I make a list of my goals for the day. I usually return some e-mails before I see my first patient.
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
Mastering Zoom helps me stay connected to my friends and my patients. I also started doing yoga which I now do on Zoom.
What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?
I became very disciplined and time-efficient when I started writing my first book, The Affect Regulation Toolbox in 2005.
In order to sustain my psychotherapy practice and teaching responsibilities, I made every hour count. I would write from 2 PM to 7 PM every Wednesday and 11 AM until 6 PM on Sundays. It was a rigid schedule that I kept even when I was on vacation.
I wrote three other books, several chapters, and academic articles, following that schedule. With time efficiency, I somehow managed to fit in exercise, cooking, and date nights with my husband.
Discipline is a habit and I believe that discipline is freeing.
I am now in the habit of being disciplined and try to challenge my patients to adhere to a schedule so they can be productive as well as to take time for self-nurturing and fun.
What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?
In my teaching, writing, and clinical practice, I have stood on the shoulders of several outstanding clinicians who influenced my work in different ways.
Getting the Love You Want by Harville Hendrix, helped inform my approach to relationship therapy.
When I was writing my second book, The Go-to Guide to Anxiety Disorders, I was influenced by David Barlow’s Anxiety and Its
Disorders: The Nature and Treatment of Anxiety and Panic.
My colleague, Michael Yapko’s groundbreaking book on hypnosis, Trancework, helped me develop my hypnosis skills and philosophy. His approaches influenced my treatment strategies, teaching, and writing.
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Viktor Frankl
Possibilities are not probabilities.