What we do and what makes us special
We offer psychotherapy and consulting for individuals, couples, families,
and organizations who really want to find real solutions fast that will lead
directly to better functioning and a better life. We also lecture and hold
workshops by invitation all over the country for businesses and
not-for-profit organizations. Our world-wide reputation, our books, our
appearances on TV and radio, including Oprah, the Today Show, and many others vouch for what we have to offer.
Still, people ask us all the time. “With about a bazillion shrinks and
coaches and assorted helpers and advisors running around out there, what
makes you guys special? What is it like to come to you for help? What does
The Chestnut Hill Institute stand for, and why does that make a difference?”
Great questions, and I wish I could give a quick, ten-word answer. But then
that would mean that we had a gimmick. You know: scream therapy, hate your
mother therapy, make your mind empty therapy, Freud, Jung, Joe Blow, you
name it. But we don’t have a gimmick. (Maybe that’s our gimmick!) We’re just
interested in What Works to Solve Your Problem Fast. That’s easier and
faster for you, thank goodness, but it means we’ve got to do our homework
and figure out what, for you and your problem, works best.
But there are a lot of things we believe in and stand up for, even if there
aren’t any gimmicks.
We believe in you. We base our work on the premise that people are basically resilient and oriented toward growth and health. We believe that when you come for help, you are the world’s leading expert on your life and your problem. We believe you are the ultimate authority of what you need and what’s actually helping you.
We believe in research. It’s not about opinions, attitudes, doctrines, or other hobby horses. All that matters, like in the best medicine, is what real research says actually works best.
We believe in having a success-based focus. You won’t get anywhere studying why you have the problem you have. After all, if you get the flu, how much time does your doctor spend trying to figure out who sneezed on you? Who cares? Here’s what we do instead: we look at what successful people do to solve the problem you have and then try to find away to make those solutions available to everyone.
For example, starting with our very first book, Parent/Teen Breakthrough, we studied people who were successful raising teenagers. Then we said, OK, what’s the difference between what those people who were successful did and what the rest of us do? (It turned out to be something real simple, by the way!) Then we put that in a book, so the rest of us could learn to do what people who were successful do.
To take another example, we also did the same kind of reseach to create our book The Emotional EnergyFactor, which is all about how people just like you, going through tough times just like yours, were able to maintain a high level of emotional energy.
We believe that decision making lies at the heart of change. Every person, every organization, is a decision waiting to happen. People are in pain and in
trouble because they’re having trouble making the decisions that will save
them. So all of our work helps people make those crucial decisions that they
need to make, and helps them make great decisions in the process. You can
see this, for example, in our best selling Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to
Stay and our book on decision making What Do I Do Now?.
We believe that we all live in a context, and that this context has a huge
impact on how we function and feel, and that the most important of these
contexts is our primary relationship. When love sucks, everything sucks. So
we have devoted much of our professional lives helping people make love work
(in the sense of functioning well) and making love easy (because when love
works it is easy, or at least easier than when it doesn’t work). For
example, check out The Weekend Marriage.
We believe in common sense. Therapy and coaching are more filled with
bullshit than almost any other areas except theology and management. But we
believe that life is simpler than many people think, and every time people
talk about how complicated and deep things are they’re just trying to steal
your wallet. Of course, common sense without evidence isn’t worth much. But
as you now know, we believe in evidence too.
And we believe in hope. We believe the world makes sense. We believe we are
all oriented towards growth and change and becoming our best selves. That,
for example, is why we wrote Everything Happens for a Reason. Mediocrity and
suffering aren’t the best we can do. We were all born to be happy and smart,
and the main reason to be smart is so you can be happy.
Oh, yes. One more thing, because lots of people ask about it: No, sorry, The
Chestnut Hill Institute is not one of those places where you can come to
have a nervous breakdown and stay overnight. But we do want you to visit our
website and we do want you do come to us for help. Because when you are
ready to make those much-needed changes in your life, and solve the problems
that have been burdening you, we’ll be ready to help you.
Any questions? Contact us!