If you’ve ever struggled with your family, whether at home or away, then do we have the Overcoming Your Difficult Family show for you!

Today I’ll be talking with Eric Maisel, PhD, retired family therapist, creativity and life coach, and the author of more than fifty books including mastering creative anxiety and a brilliant new read, Overcoming Your Difficult Family: 8 Skills for Thriving in Any Family Situation.

And that’s just what I want to talk with him about today, about 8 skills for thriving in any family situation.




Eric Maisel was born in the Bronx, New York, where he lived until the age of 5. He grew up in Brooklyn, attended Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, and briefly attended Brooklyn College. After serving in the Army from 1965 – 1968 he attended Oregon State University and the University of Oregon, where he received a B.S. in philosophy.

Dr. Maisel subsequently lived in Boston, New York and San Francisco and traveled extensively in Europe, spending time in London, Dublin and Budapest. He earned a master’s degree in creative writing from San Francisco State University while ghostwriting mysteries and nonfiction and self-publishing fiction. In the ’80s he returned to school and earned a second bachelor’s degree in psychology, a second master’s degree in counseling, and a doctorate in counseling psychology.

After completing training, Dr. Maisel became a California licensed family therapist and worked exclusively with creative and performing artists. In time he moved from therapy and the medical model to coaching, where he founded the profession of creativity coaching.

Dr. Maisel has a son, David Maisel, by his first marriage, and two daughters, Natalya Maisel and Kira Maisel, with his wife Ann Mathesius Maisel. In 2012 Eric and Ann celebrated 35 years together.  They live in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Dr. Maisel served as adjunct faculty at St. Mary’s College (Moraga, California) for ten years and created and wrote Callboard Magazine’s Staying Sane in the Theater column. He has presented lectures and workshops for the American Psychological Association, the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, the Paris Writers Workshop, the North Carolina School of the Arts, the Savannah College of Arts and Crafts, the U. C. Berkeley Counseling Center, and many other venues.

Dr. Maisel has been a guest on, quoted in, or interviewed by Redbook, Glamour, Cosmo Teen, Men’s Health, Body and Soul, KRON television news, Martha Stewart Living, Self, Marin Magazine, The San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Daily News, The Arizona Republic, Common Boundary, and has provided hundreds of radio, television, and print interviews.

Dr. Maisel has been the keynote speaker at the Jack London Writer’s Conference, Pikes Peak Writer’s Conference, William Saroyan Writer’s Conference, Indiana Arts’ Administrators Conference, Mendocino Writer’s Conference, Santa Fe Conference on Creative Tourism, Arizona State University Arts & Letters Convocation, and many other conferences.

He presents workshops at the Omega Institute, the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, the Esalen Institute, The Hollyhock Centre (in Canada), the Open Center, and Rowe; and at locations worldwide, including in San Francisco, New York, London, Paris, Antwerp, Prague, and Berlin.

Dr. Maisel writes the Rethinking Mental Health blog for Psychology Today online, a monthly print column for Professional Artist Magazine, and occasional pieces for the Huffington Post. He hosted a hundred episodes of The Joy of Living Creatively and Your Purpose-Centered Life with the Personal Life Media Network and provides core trainings for the Creativity Coaching Association.


Eric Maisel, PhD Online: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Key Topics:

  • Did Eric Maisel grow up in a difficult family?
  • How’d he end up interested in studying psychology?
  • What did he find wrong with the medical model of psychology?
  • How’d he end up becoming a creative coach?
  • Why did he write a book on difficult families?
  • What are the 8 skills to thrive in any family situation?
  • What’s it mean to be smart in a family situation?
  • What’s the importance of asking “Am I smart about what’s bothering me”
  • What’s the importance of being strong in a family situation – and what does that look like?
  • What’s a calmness toolkit?
  • What are a few top anxiety management tools?
  • What’s the discharging technique?
  • What’s it mean to flip the calmness switch?
  • What’s it mean to be clear?
  • What’s the importance of saying things directly?
  • What’s the importance of asking for clarification?
  • What’s the importance of paying close attention?
  • What’s it mean to be brave in a family situation?
  • What’s the importance of being present?
  • What’s the importance of resilience, and how do we become more resilient?
  • How do we upgrade our ability to be aware?
  • How to visualize and work through challenging discussions?
  • How do we turn off productive obsessions to talk with our children and our spouse’s.
  • How do we overcome difficult and dark sibling situations?
  • What advice would he have for parents to help your kids with difficult family situations? 

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