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The 8th Annual We Are Family Foundation Gala hosted at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City


“We are Family” is a tune that stays in your head.  Remember Sister Sledge singing lyrics like  “I got all my sisters with me...We’re giving love in a family dose…Have faith in you and the things you do…”?

I love those messages.

The song was co-written by legendary songwriter and producer Nile Rodgers, a friend of mine.  Nile wrote huge hits of the disco scene, like "Le Freak" and "Everybody Dance," and also produced the likes of David Bowie, Duran Duran, INKS, Diana Ross, the B-52s and Madonna’s “Like A Virgin” album.   

Then after 9/11, he started the “We are Family Foundation” (WAFF), (www.wearefamilyfoundation.org), a nonprofit organzition, inspired to promote a global family, and now supporting educational projects in 20 countries.  After 9/11, the master musician organized re-recording the hit song with over 200 musicians, celebrities and personalities, which was then made into a music video, documentary and version with children’s TV characters.

WAFF had their big fund-raiser Tuesday night with awards and performances by a bevy of stars.  

I was delighted to see B52’s Kate Pierson, with her gorgeous flaming red hair and clear blue eyes.  It was especially moving because just the day before I had met an adorable little girl with red hair and freckles (in Sam’s Club), whom my mom and I had told she was beautiful.  Sadly, her dad shared with me she is constantly picked on – bullied – by other girls in school, pointing out her freckles and red hair and calling her ugly. 

I was so upset.  “What do you do to help her,” I asked the dad?

“We do the “and” and ‘so’ technique,” he explained: that when the girls say mean things to her, she should be calm (since bullies like a reaction) and simply say “so” and “and” and walk away.

He explained that he has also called the bully girls’ parents and they supposedly talked to their children but that he fears it only makes things worse. Telling school officials, he said, have also not stopped the verbal attacks.

My mom and I both looked at the little girl and told her, “You are so beautiful.  You  are special. I know it’s hard to de with this, and for you to believe now that you are beautiful but you are!  You are different – in a wonderful way! The other girls are jealous.”

I suggested to her, “How about saying to them calmly, ‘It would be better for you to be nice.’  That might show how confident you are and not upset by them.” Maybe it would also teach them a lesson.

She looked at me shyly and agreed she would try that.

I asked Kate Pierson what she would say to that little girl, as she also has beautful blue eyes and even more flaming red hair.

“I would tell her that she should appreciate who she is!” Kate told me. 

Great answer! It’s right in the We Are Family spirit!

Another guest that night had a message that appealed to me as a psychologist. Susan Cohn Rockefeller produced the documentary “Striking a Chord:  Music can Heal Invisible Wounds” (www.strikingachirdthemovie.com); I certainly know that research proves that music has power to heal. In fact, my own band The Stand Up for Peace Project, writes and performs music to heal, and our first song was specifically for healing after 9/11, just like the birth of WAFF!

Co-host of the night political satirist Mo Rocco said the perfect comment to me (as a psychologist), when I asked him about what he feels is special about him.  “I am good to touch,” he said, describing that the skin on his face is so soft and that his velvet jacket feels good to touch.  “You’re very right,” I told him, “Touch is very powerful, not just for pleasure but for healing.”

WAFF embodies the message of Noble Peace Prize Laureate Desmond Tutu: “If you want to change, you must be the change.”  In the spirit of peace, the WAFF Humanitarian award that night went to Jackson Browne for spreading peaceful messages through music. 

When Browne was being interviewed by Lauren Mikler, my friend from HLN’s ShowBiz Tonight now at NY1, she asked him the perfect question, right in my ballpark: how does his more folksy-style music combines with Nile’s more up-tempo disco sound? He described how well they complement each other!

In my lingo, it’s the question:  “Do opposites attract?”  So many people ask me that, in my role as a psychologist and dating expert. We get along great, Jackson explained. I agree!  Opposites can attract balance each other, and learn from each other.  And it is also true, by the way, that “birds of a feather flock together.”

Jackson and Nile also epitomized another wonderful psychological principle: friendship and supporting each other’s lives and work glues people together – even if you go separate ways for years.  That was proved by a surprise reunion that night for Jackson and my wonderful videographer teammate (who produced and edited the video in this story), Sandi Bachom, who grew up with Jackson in California, and brought along a photo (with a message on the back) of him at 17 years old looking handsome holding his guitar.  Seeing Sandi, he gushed!  Even she and I have had our own reunion, after meeting years ago at the spa Rancho La Puerta but not reunited until I noticed this energetic redhead filming Kurtis Sliwa’s fundraiser. 

The evening turned gold in another way: an impressive $2 million was raised—amazing for this economy, when the NY Times only recently ran an article about benefits suffering.  Some of the money goes to support another of WAFF’s laudable projects, Three Dot Dash, which supports teen leaders around the world working for peace.   A true child prodigy was at the gala, who spoke like such a mature young man, who told me that his musical preferences range from Chopin to the Beatles.  It’s encouraging to see such talent and composure in such a youth – encouraging for our future in music and life!


Dr. Judy quoted in NY Times on bad-boy Charlie Sheen 




Dr. Judy talks with CCTV during the Chilean miners rescue


Dr. Judy on the Curtis Sliwa radio show


Curtis Sliwa, Radio Host


David Arquette Spills Sex Secrets on Radio about Split with Wife


Are men becoming expendable?


Chile miners rescue: Dr. Judy Kuriansky talks life after darkness

The world watched the fate of the 33 miners and on October 12, 2010 they were all rescued.  I was on CCTV-9 News (Chinese TV that also airs in the United States on Time Warner cable systems), about the psychological meaning of the experience. Here are some questions they asked me, as well as others about the emotional issues and psychological impact involved in this amazing story.

Q: The plight of the miners and their rescue has attracted the whole world's attention. Why do we care so much about this?

A:  People of all ages and cultures have been united in the miner’s experience because we all know the experience of trauma or being trapped on some level, and so we are so relieved to have such a “happy ending.”  We all wish for miracles to end our suffering and the successful rescue of the trapped miners makes us feel hopeful that such miracles can happen.  Their story brings hope, inspiration, solidarity, pride and faith in the face of enormous suffering shared by people across the world (like the earthquakes in Haiti and China, the flood in Pakistan, and even the financial crisis) as well an individual traumas (illnesses, job stress, family problems). Watching their rescue makes us vicariously experience that we too can be “saved.” 

Q: Are there deeper psychological issues?

A. Yes. On a deep psychological level, the miners being trapped taps into early childhood fears of being lost or even of being buried alive (as some scenes in movies have shown). Also, the rescue of the miners revives fairy tales read as children about being rescued (like the Prince Charming did for Cinderella) and story endings that we can come “back from the dead”.       

Q: What are the major psychological problems the miners may face in the days to come?

A:   They will likely go through a range of emotions.  Of course they first feel jubilant and relieved (like everyone in the world who celebrates with them).  But in the aftermath, as in all traumas, they can go through re-experiencing fears, especially at night in the dark or when enclosed in small places like an elevator or even a car.  They can also feel isolated, as if no one except their group, can understand how they feel.  Immediately after their rescue, they are being flooded with attention not only from loved ones, but from people around the world, the government, and media, but once they have to go back to “normal” life, and once invitations to Presidential palaces fade, they can have emotional swings, including depression and anger.  While they were initially reported as being psychologically well, memories and symptoms can emerge later (even years later), which can dangerously lead to withdrawal, problems at work or in relationships, or worse, addictions to drugs or alcohol.  They need to have support from health professionals along their path of recovery, and access to help for years to come. Their experience can be like “war shock” of veterans of battle.  


The psychological stages can morph from immediate jubilation to alternating emotions that include feeling of pride for being a survivor or inner shame for having experienced fear or losing hope. Despite having been rescued, it did take many days, which can lead to anger that it took so long.  They may be ecstatic to be re-united with loved ones but also feel isolated, thinking even loved ones cannot truly understand what they went through.  Also, while they are being called heroes, some may not feel that way inside.

Q:  Should they talk about their experience?

A: Research suggests that whether people should discuss their trauma depends on their coping style.  Not all people benefit from “debriefing,” and can be re-traumatized by going over details of their experience. Yet, some people are helped by talking about what they went through. It is crucial to know whether the person wants to talk or not.  Also, mental health professionals are essential to help people process such trauma.

Q: What about their family members? They were actually suffering with their loved ones trapped underground during the whole rescue process. How will they be dealing with the experiences?

Q:  There is talk about the miners writing a book together.  Should they? 

A:  The miners writing a book together would be a way for them to process the experience together to develop what’s called a “collective memory” and to continue to be in contact with each other for ongoing group support.  But they must be prepared to re-experience the trauma, and realize that they can have different reactions.  If some do not want to participate, they should be allowed to decline.  

Such a book will helpful to the public, to collectively process the experience, to gain further insight into how they coped, and to serve as an inspiration for overcoming traumas of all kind.

Q:  Does the miner’s age make a difference in how they adjust?

A:  Older miners have the possibility of coping because they have had more experience with adversity.  But resilience (the ability to “bounce back”) is a personal matter and depends on factors like past coping with problems and available support from others.  Some older miners took a leadership role, which can give them confidence; others may feel they did not do enough in the group process. 

Q: Should the miners go back to work?

A:  Some may want to go right back to work, like “getting right back in the saddle” when you have fallen off a horse.  Others may need time and distance from the experience. None should be forced to return to work. While it can be helpful to “get back to normal”  life will not be normal for a while for them, especially with so much attention. 

Q. Many children watched the process on TV, whether purposely or simply in passing. What are their reactions and how can they be helped?

A: Children need special attention now, to be reassured that they are safe since their fears about being lost themselves, or about losing their parent may be exacerbated by this experience.  Parents should watch for symptoms like trouble sleeping, nightmares, fear of the dark,  and especially refusal to go to school (for fear something will happen to their parents while they are away).     

Q: What can we learn from this experience?

A:  We can certainly be reassured that even the most severe of challenges, anxieties and anguish can be faced and overcome, that others care, that faith matters, that there is hope in the face of extreme adversity and that life is precious.


Australian Morning Show on One Night Stands




The 3 Ts of Relationships

Originally posted on November 9, 2009 by WNYW/FOX 5 NEWS STAFF

MYFOXNY.COM - Dr. Judy Kuriansky is a relationship expert and author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to a Healthy Relationship" says there are a lot of different strategies to help keep yours healthy, but often it comes down to three Ts:

  1. TRUST
  2. TALK
  3. TIME

Trust means that you are not cheating, she says. Trust means you say what you are going to do, even simply going to be home at 7 p.m. if you say you will.

Talk means remember to communicate. A lot of people stop communicating. Set aside talking time one person says what is on their mind, Dr. Judy says. Then listen intently to the other person sharing what they want and what they have been feeling.

Time means make a schedule. Dr. Judy says schedule some quality time alone at least twice a week.

"The time of twice a week should be at least three hours," she says. "It takes that amount of to really share some activity.

Definitely avoid this T while you are spending that time alone: Texting.

Texting while you are spending time together is totally a no-no, Dr. Judy says. You should slap your hand, put it in your pocket or behind back every time you reach for your cell phone.


Dr. Judy on ABCNews discussing psychological first aide in Haiti

Dr. Judy on ABCNews, discussing the particular psychological trauma faced by children and orphans in Haiti.Dr. Judy appeared on ABCNews to discuss psychological first aide in Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake.  Click here to view the video now -- it includes stunning images and footage from Haiti as well as commentary on the value of psychological treatment for victims and first responders.

You may also be interested in our related press release, Psychological First Aide in Haiti.