So, what would you say if you received an invitation to have your own private appointment with a relationship and parenting expert who’s making her mark on both sides of our friendly border? Yeah, me too!

I first became acquainted with Dr. Karyn Gordon’s work when she was a guest expert on The Mom Show, which I basically inhaled daily during my first mat leave in 2006. Since then, I’ve seen her quality advice and encouragement pop up on Cityline and in print (Chatelaine and Today’s Parent, just to name a couple); media appearances which complement her solution-focused marriage and family counseling practice in Toronto. (Oh, and did I mention she’s married with five year old twins?)

About Dr. Karyn

You may be wondering what deeply personal parenting and marriage concerns I run by Dr. Karyn in our session…but sorry to disappoint you, the journalist in me is much more interested in learning about her than giving away anything too personal about myself!

I do ask her what some of the most common struggles are for parents of our generation, and she responds that one of the top questions she’s usually asked is about discipline and structure, and how to get our kids to do what we want (or need) them to do. There’s also the whole issue of parents worrying about how to maintain their relationships with the demands of young kids, which is a really common concern as well.

In case you’re wondering about her title, “Dr.” isn’t just some television nickname; Dr. Karyn has a Bachelor in Psychology, a Masters in Counseling, a Doctorate in Marriage and Family Therapy and has done extensive studies in generational differences, personalities, leadership and EQ (Emotional Intelligence). Dr. Karyn’s practice (she works with kids, teens and adults) is very solution-oriented, which contrasts with the traditional talk-therapy that many of us may think of when we hear the term “counseling”.

“Solution-oriented therapy really resonates with me,” she says. “I like to fix problems, I don’t just like to talk about them, so I built my entire practice around that. It works really well as people see results quickly. People are busy and clients don’t want long-term talk therapy.”
This approach is particularly effective for men in marriage counseling, notes Dr. Karyn: “It keeps husbands engaged. They don’t want to talk about their feelings, they want a strategic action plan to fix this problem. Some people find talk therapy helpful, it can be cathartic to talk things out, but in terms of really changing anything I let people vent but quickly move over to finding solutions to the problems.”

Does it really work? “Part of the reason that it’s so hard to get into my office is because everybody hears about our phenomenal results. Our track record with teens and couples is well over 95 percent.”
When I ask Dr. Karyn what she loves best about her job, her answer is immediate: “The highlight would be seeing people change. I find it’s very energizing when I see people make progress. That’s one of the reasons I don’t want to do talk therapy. I’m not into the small talk, I want to see people progress and move forward, whether that’s at my practice, or speaking, or media. I certainly see the change more at my practice, but I love the media side because it’s a great platform for teaching things to people who never come into my office.”

Curious to know how someone goes from having an area of expertise to becoming an in-demand media and speaking presence (she’s spoken to over 1/4 million people), I ask Dr. Karyn for her tips, which are:

  • Figure out what your niche is
  • Figure out an angle that’s not out there now
  • Start pitching it
  • Start small with local media and work your way up
  • Focus on word of mouth and a lot of networking: “When I started, it was somebody knew somebody who knew somebody and following up on all those different leads.”
  • Remember that each medium is different; TV is  harder to break into than radio and print as it’s more competitive.
  • Manage your expectations (so, I guess I won’t start with The View!)

Karyn and Tracy Moore (photo

As a Catholic teacher, I was interested to see on her website that she is booked for several days with an Ontario Catholic District School Board, so I ask her what her task will be with them. “Some boards have me training teachers, but in this case, the Director of Education heard me speak and she rounded up some funding to bring me in for three days focused completely on the kids. I’ll be speaking to students, mostly high school but I believe some elementary, and it’s focused on self-esteem and confidence.” (Hmm…wonder if we can round up some funds for that? Though I’d be torn between having her work with the students or having her speak to us adults!)

I am also curious to know how the “parenting expert” deals with her own busy sons. “I find it physically tiring, but emotionally very energizing. I work part time, usually Monday, Wednesday and Friday and I’m home with the kids on Tuesday and Thursday, so for me I feel that’s a really good mix. It’s fun applying all this stuff to my own boys. I’ve been working for approximately 17 years but it’s different with your own kids. It’s fun for me to take all this information that I’ve learned and worked on with families and apply it to my own kids and realize how incredibly effective it is. It’s cool to be kind of the student of my own teaching in a way. I love that part, it’s very exciting for me.”

She adds, “Being a parenting expert, I had hoped I’d love being a mom, but you don’t really know until you get there! I really do love it. It’s the purest form of joy there is. I love how they ask questions and they’re inquisitive. They’re picking up stuff I’ve taught them and they challenge me. The other day, one of my sons said: ‘Mommy, you and Daddy have got to get on the same page!’ using the same language he’d heard from my husband and me.”

Dr. Karyn is also a best-selling author (Dr. Karyn’s Guide to the Teen Years / Harper Collins) and founder of dk Leadership: An Inspirational Leadership and Coaching Center For Teens, Couples and Adults.

For more information on Dr. Karyn, visit the dk Leadership website or follow her on Twitter.

1 comment on “Dr. Karyn Gordon, Relationship and Parenting Expert: The Momterview”

  1. I love Dr. Gordon's honesty about being usure if she was going to enjoy being a mom. How wonderfully honest.

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