I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Ken Howard since our days together at UCLA, many moons ago. Since then, he has gone on to become a renowned therapist in Los Angeles, and has written a book, Self-Empowerment: Have the Life You Want, which I’ve been hearing terrific things about. Ken was gracious enough to answer a few questions about his book and work. Welcome, Ken!
Q & A: Ken Howard, LCSW
Thank you for taking the time to chat! First of all, congratulations on your new book, which is getting great buzz. What prompted you to write it?
I get great inspiration from self-help books written by others, and have done this both before and after I became a therapist. I recommend books to my clients, depending on their situation, as an adjunct resource between sessions. But most self-help books aren’t written by actual licensed psychotherapists who are currently in full-time private practice, as I am. So I decided to write a self-help book for a general adult audience based on my 18 years of experience in practice at the time of the writing (now 20 years). I wanted to bring my message of inspiration, hope, and support to more people than I can possibly see in my office in a week. It’s also, I believe, the first self-help book for a general audience written by an openly gay, openly HIV-positive author, so I’m proud of that.
I know that much of your psychotherapy work has been within the gay community, but I understand this book has a larger reach. What can people hope to gain by reading it?
This is a book for people who are struggling what I call the gap between how life is, and how you would like it to be, in important areas of life such as mental health, health, career, relationships, finances, family, community, and spirituality. The main benefit is that it helps people feel empowered – self-empowered, hence the name – to confront their challenges, and take their quality of life to the next level.
Each chapter of the book – which corresponds to those different life areas – includes ways to empower yourself, a list of common challenges that get in the way (and what to do about them), and a “case study” vignette of how someone from my practice actually put these ideas into practice (altered to protect their confidentiality). This way, you look at things from all sides.
I was moved to become a therapist when I was younger and just coming out as a gay man, and many of the people I knew, or at least knew of, were affected by AIDS, or even dying from it. I couldn’t just sit around and watch; I had to do something. I developed a niche in working in HIV, but also with gay men who don’t have HIV, along with others with psychiatric disorders, since I have specialized training in those (Depression, OCD, ADD, PTSD, etc.). Today, my practice is still largely made up of gay men. Being in West Hollywood, I also see a lot of creative professionals from the entertainment industry, who are straight, gay, male, female, older and younger. With this book, I wanted to share some of the lessons on self-empowerment developed in my practice with a broader audience beyond the gay community. (more…)
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