Dr. Debbie Magids on Good Mental Health, Spirituality, and “The Mother Daughter Experiment”
Dr. Debbie Magids is a counseling psychologist known for her stops on “Good Morning America,” “The Dr. Oz Show,” “Today,” and “The Steve Harvey Show” -advising people on family and personal relationships. Dr. Debbie also has a very successful private practice, of which she has been seeing patients for nearly 16 years. She earned a Master of Arts in Organizational Psychology and a Master of Education in Psychological Counseling from Columbia University’s Teachers College. Later receiving her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Fordham University.
Recently, she helped celebrity Mother/Daughter duos on Lifetime’s “The Mother Daughter Experiment: Celebrity Edition.” The series focused on helping mend splintered relationships between Kim Richards and her daughter Kimberly, Heidi Montag and her mother Darlene, and the always scandalous Courtney Stodden and her mother Krista – just to name a few.
Dr. Debbie took some time to talk to us about relationships, spirituality, what good mental health means, and why it was important for her to do a project like “The Mother Daughter Experiment.”
What drew you to study psychology?
I would have to say psychology chose me, in the sense that I always knew this was an interest. I believe we are drawn to professions because of childhood experiences. As a child, I was the person in the family who was the caretaker, and the one always fixing the problems. I was the barometer of emotions for the household. It was a natural fit and with all the schooling, it honed my ability.
You’ve had a very successful private practice for 16 years. Do you enjoy that part of being a doctor?
I do! What’s great about this field is that there are so many things you can do with it. Private practice is kind of at the core of all of it. Even with all the schooling I’ve had, I learn the most from my own personal therapy and working with others. Like you said, I’ve been doing this for 16 years now and there’s no greater learning experience than helping people. Private practice gives me the foundation.
Along with your private practice, you’ve written books on relationships.
It’s my sub-specialty. Like anything else we draw from things that affect us personally. I had been in a 10 year relationship, he wanted marriage and I loved him, but I couldn’t commit. It was a very painful ending because I didn’t want to lose him but I couldn’t move forward. So at that point it became a quest for understanding why I’m having commitment issues. From there is where my book was born. I have people come in, and in one session see why they’re blocked, and where they’re blocked.
Your Youtube channel has videos touching on many topics including mind/body connection and positive thought. The one on spirituality was very interesting.
In my experience, after 10 years of my own therapy, psychology caps off and I couldn’t grow from it anymore. So, I started to explore spirituality and what that meant for me. I started looking into meditation and silence. Personally, that brought me some insight that psychology hadn’t. However, spirituality and the psychology behind what is blocking you is a killer combination for growth and mental health. I always practice before I start preaching and I found this to be a beneficial way to live. I decided to bring it to my clients and then to a larger audience. It’s just believing in something outside of yourself. I really feel like mediation is the number one tool.
Meditation is great when you can clear your mind.
We all have those thoughts running through our minds, but a moment of not having that is what makes the difference.
How did you get involved with Lifetime’s “The Mother Daughter Experiment?”
At the core, it wasn’t reality TV I was aiming for, but when this project was brought to me, I really fell in love with it. I had no idea what it would become. If you watch the show, they only show about seven minutes of therapy session. The reality of it is, we were doing six hour sessions each day. I loved getting into the dynamics of mothers and daughters. Mother’s are an important part of our lives and who we become. It’s a complicated and special relationship. By doing the show I was hoping to help people in their lives, and I think I did. And I hoped the people watching could relate as well. Even with as crazy as reality TV can get, at the core I knew people could relate to all of their stories. Hopefully, learning and taking something away from the show. People are more apt to watch a reality show than a lecture. The bottom line for me, is helping people. I think we did some really great work with that show.
Was the show challenging?
It was personally challenging just because it was all new to me. But once we got rolling and into the sessions, you actually forget the cameras are there. I think Lifetime’s goal was to make a show people wanted to watch. They wanted to make meaningful TV. Which I feel like we did.
What does good mental health mean to you?
Good mental health doesn’t mean you don’t have any problems or struggles. People need to understand it’s how you cope with the problems. There will always be stressors in life, it’s just when, where, and how you deal with it. So gaining the tools to cope is key. I try to tell people, what you are going through isn’t unusual, you will feel pain. Let’s learn to navigate through it. I just want to demystify mental health.