While working on her master’s and doctorate degrees at Nova Southeastern University, Dr. Donna Marks never thought that she would become a renowned licensed psychotherapist and addictions counselor in Palm Beach, Florida. Additionally, if someone told her while she was in graduate school that she would write multiple books and receive over 25 awards for one of those books, she would have thought you must be joking. In this podcast, Dr. Marks shares her personal and professional journey in the field of psychology and discusses the significant events and people that led her to open her own private practice, develop a chemical dependency training program, which eventually turned into a four-year degree, and receive the Florida Governor’s Council Award.
Dr. Marks has been a psychotherapist, addictions counselor, and teacher of A Course in Miracles for over 30 years. She is a certified gestalt therapist, psychoanalyst, hypnotist, and sex therapist. During our discussion, she explains what gravitated her towards psychology and how she naturally felt like the resident therapist for her family and friends. Although she wasn’t planning on attending graduate school, Dr. Marks recalls the reasons and circumstances that led her to receiving her MA in Counseling Psychology and her EdD in Adult Education at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
Throughout this podcast, Dr. Marks shares practical and thoughtful advice to those interested in the field of psychology. For example, she states “If I had it to do over, I would have gotten my MSW in Clinical Social Work” because “a lot of the Medicare and Medicaid insurance policies will pay clinical social workers. And at the time they would, they would not pay licensed mental health counselors.” She summarizes by stating “But if someone were going to start now, I would encourage them to get that MSW licensure, licensed clinical social worker for that. Because when you’re first starting, you want to be able to serve as many people as you can, and for you to get reimbursed and for your patients to get reimbursed.”
Dr. Marks shares that she became certified as a sex therapist because the state of Florida passed a law that you couldn’t discuss sex in therapy without being certified as a sex therapist. She also mentions that if you are going to counsel people with additions, there are a lot of people with sex addictions so that is another reason why you should consider getting the sex therapist certification. She also discusses the benefits of getting training in, and becoming skilled at, gestalt therapy and psychoanalysis. Dr. Marks shares her experience with The Southeast of Florida Institute for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy as she received two certifications (one in psychoanalytic psychotherapy and one in psychoanalysis).
Dr. Marks discusses the people who significantly impacted her and her academic and professional career. She also discusses how she developed a chemical dependency training program at Balm Beach Community College “where any therapist, nurse, or anyone that had these types of licenses, clinical social workers, family therapists could go and take any one of the courses that were offered and get continuing education credits.” This training program has grown into a four-year degree in addiction at Palm Beach State College and she received the Florida Governor’s Council Award for developing this program.
During our discussion, Dr. Marks discusses her books Learn Grow Forgive – A Path to Spiritual Success and Exit the Maze: One Addiction, One Cause, One Solution (revised). While discussing addiction, she states, “there has been a shift recently in psychology and in treatment to not call it addiction anymore. They’re calling it brain disorder, substance use disorder, different behavior disorders. And I think that’s a travesty because that model says that I’m born this way.” She explains why she doesn’t believe people are born with an “addiction” gene. Instead, she states, “I believe there’s one addiction and I call it that ‘invisible hole.’ That feeling that something’s missing. And I’m always searching for that next thing.” She further states that we need to teach people that “addiction is an attachment disorder. It’s an attachment to deadly behavior instead of a loving behavior.” Therefore, she works with people to teach them how to replace that feeling they get, “which feels like love, but it’s not, with actual acts of self-love.” Dr. Marks then discusses her next book, The Healing Moment: Seven Paths to Turn Messes into Miracles of Love, which will be released April 11, 2023.
Near the end of our discussion, when asked for any final advice for those interested in the field of psychology, Dr. Marks states, “follow your dream.” She explains that you shouldn’t do something for the money. Rather, “the money will come if you’re supposed to be doing it. If you’re not, if you’re not supposed to be doing it, then do something else in psychology instead of therapy.” She suggests that you can teach, you can write, you can work in clinics, you can work in addictions, or you can specialize in certain areas. What Dr. Marks loves most about her job is helping those who are “wounded or in a lot of pain” or “who has addictions” and helping them overcome these and achieve happiness, joy, and fulfillment. She states, “it is the most gratifying thing in the world.”
Connect with Dr. Donna Marks: Twitter | Facebook | Linkedin | Youtube | Instagram | Website
Connect with the Show: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn
Interests and Specializations
Dr. Donna Marks has been a licensed psychotherapist and addictions counselor in Palm Beach, Florida for over 30 years. She specializes in treating addictions and is also a certified gestalt therapist, psychoanalyst, hypnotist, sex therapist, and teaches A Course in Miracles. She has authored two books, Learn Grow Forgive – A Path to Spiritual Success and Exit the Maze: One Addiction, One Cause, One Solution (revised) which has received over 25 awards. Her next book, The Healing Moment: Seven Paths to Turn Messes into Miracles of Love will be released April 11, 2023.
Bachelor of Arts (BA), Psychology (1977); Florida Atlantic University – Boca Raton, FL.
Master of Arts (MA), Counseling Psychology (1979); Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, FL.
Doctor of Education (EdD), Adult Education (1989); Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, FL.
Other Sources and Links of Interest
Dr. Donna Marks at Simon and Schuster
Dr. Donna Marks at Amazon
Welcome to the Master’s in Psychology Podcast, where psychology students can learn from psychologists, educators, and practitioners to better understand what they do, how they got there, and hear the advice they have for those interested in getting a graduate degree in psychology. I’m your host, Brad Schumacher, and today we welcome Dr. Donna Marks to the show. Dr. Marks has been a licensed psychotherapist and addictions counselor for over 30 years. She is certified in addiction, Gestalt therapy, hypnosis, sex therapy, and psychoanalysis. And she currently has a concierge psychotherapy practice in Palm Beach, FL. Today, we will learn more about her academic and professional journey, learn more about her career and her forthcoming book, The Healing Moment: 7 Paths to Turn Messes into Miracles of Love, and hear her advice for those interested in the field of psychology. Dr. Marks, welcome to our podcast.
Thank you for having me. It’s a delight.
Well, I appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk with us. I’m excited to learn a little bit more about your journey. To start off, tell me a little bit more about your undergraduate studies and what really made you gravitate towards psychology.
Well, that’s a, that’s a big question. I think I was always gravitating towards psychology. I was in a very painful environment growing up, but it did give me a sensitivity to other people’s pain and feelings. So, by the time I was in junior high, I was like the resident therapist for my family even though I was an only child, so that leaves my parents and for my friends. I got married when I was 16 and dropped out of school, wound up going to night school to get my high school diploma. I had a baby and I was divorced by the time I was 18, and I, as I was waiting on tables at 6:00 o’clock in the morning, I’m not a morning person and having you know, a baby to take care of without much support, there was some, uhm, I said, you know, I got to get my act together. I slept through high school, I was depressed, and so I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to go to college. But I did finish my high school diploma by, by going to school at night at the time. Now they just have the GED, but at the time you could take the classes. And so, I got my high school diploma and took some typing and business courses so that I could move into a an easier line of work, not a more lucrative line of work, but an easier line of work. And then I took the big risk and went and talked to a counselor at the local Community College. It was always my dream to go to college. Not necessarily a local Community College, I had bigger dreams than that, but I had run those with my decisions, which, you know, I don’t regret now. But at the time I did not have someone to really guide me along. That’s why I’m really honored to be on your show because I know there’s going to be people listening that can relate to some of this. There was a part of me that said, you know, you can do better. There was always a part of me that my spiritual part that said you can, you can do what you want. So, I uhm I remember going into the advisors office after taking the SAT’s and being told, you know, your grade point average was just average in school and your scores are so low you, you really should just take like a, you know, education degree, something really simple. And I’m like, well, no I I I really want to study psychology. And he said well, you know, you might do OK here, but when you go on to the four-year degree, it’s going to be a lot harder. And I said, well, I’ll figure out how to do it. And he said, no, I really think that you should, you know, you should just stay with something easier. And I’m like kind of thinking and there was something inside of me said, “don’t pay any attention to him.” So, I graduated the two-year program at about 14 months with honors and then went on to the Florida Atlantic University here in Boca Raton and it was a tough, it was a tough program, but I graduated that program with honors also, not as it wasn’t as easy as the Community College, but I I did finish and was very happy that I did and it boosted my confidence. You know, if you study for something, it’s not so hard. And so, I then got my masters at a Graduate School, and while I had started a private practice because I actually went and looked for jobs with a master’s degree and I would have been making less money than I was a waitress so I wasn’t really keen on doing that. And I started doing groups with a colleague. We just did like support groups for people that were going through widowed or divorced. We did bereavement groups and then we had people in those groups that wanted individual counseling and we had to be supervised. It’s, we weren’t even licensed yet, we were interns. We had to be supervised. We’d met all the requirements except the supervision at the time it was two years of supervision. After all your graduate studies, and then you had to pass the state exam. So, while I was doing that the my my supervisor said you really need to get your doctorate degree and I’m like I, I’ve already investigated that it’s impossible. I can’t get a doctorate in psychology. They want you to work in the clinic for 30 hours a week. I I now have. I’m now divorced twice and have two children. And, uhm, I have a full-time practice and I I just can’t do it. And he said, well, you don’t need to do psychology. You can get your doctorate in adult education, so the next thing I knew I’ve you know, after several conversations, he’s on the phone with the Dean of that department. And I did get my doctorate. So as a graduate of high school with a adult education, and then I wound up getting a doctorate in adult education. And that’s been the educational component of, of my journey.
Well, you said quite a lot there. You actually gave me a nice quick overview from high school to your going leading up to your bachelors as well at Florida Atlantic University. And then you eventually ended up going to Nova Southeastern University for your Masters and your EdD, so nice summary. I want to share my screen here for a second and I want to highlight a couple things for our viewers and listeners. Number one is, once it pops up here, it’s going to show the Florida Atlantic University where you attended and you received your BA in psychology. So, we’ll share these websites and these links when we go live as well. And so you don’t need to unnecessarily keep keep track of these, and then I’ll move over to NSU, Florida. And this is where you received your EdD in Adult Education but you applied that in such a way that you even mentioned you are already practicing under, you know, under supervision to actually start your career. And that’s why you you actually have more than 30, almost 35 years under your belt of of helping and counseling. And so I’m gonna go back for a second. So while you were working on your bachelors at the Florida Atlantic University, at what point did you know that you wanted to get your graduate degree and and back then, it was probably counseling psychology. You were thinking, but then they were saying no, you can go and get it for adult education. So, tell me a little bit more about when did it click in your mind that hey, I could actually do this. I could go on and get my graduate degree.
Well, I knew that the money was not going to be very good with a bachelor degree, and there weren’t many jobs available either. That would be very basic state or or county types of positions which I didn’t mind doing, but I knew I would have to get my master’s degree to be in private practice and to to advance myself into the. I I wanted to be remunerated for the amount of effort, that’s what I was putting in so a master’s degree was going to be essential. So, I did get my masters in counseling psychology from Nova University.
OK. All right. Well, that helps a little bit now the follow up question that I have is you know there are tons and tons of graduate schools and programs in Florida and so I’m sharing a screen right now it’ll pop up. Here are all the Florida master’s and psychology degrees and programs looking at the master’s level and then some of those are terminal and then you go into the doctorate degrees as well. So how did you decide on going to Nova Southeastern University for your masters and your EdD then?
Well, at the time we didn’t have computers and there weren’t so many schools available that there are now. So, it met the requirements to get licensed and it was suggested to me that it would be a good school. If I had it to do over, I would have gotten my MSW in Clinical Social Work because it, you know, I think it’s still the same way that a lot of the Medicare and Medicaid insurance policies will pay clinical social workers. And at the time they would, they would not pay licensed mental health counselors. I know there’s been all kind of lobbying and stuff going on for years. I haven’t really done insurance or accepted insurance for quite a while, so I really don’t know what’s happening with that reimbursement right now and those insurance companies. But the the license that I got, which is a licensed mental health counselor after I met all the requirements to be licensed in Florida, did qualify me to be reimbursed or for my patients to be reimbursed through almost all other insurance companies. It’s just the Medicare and Medicaid, the government policies. But if someone were going to start now, I would encourage them to get that MSW licensure, licensed clinical social worker for that. Because when you’re first starting, you want to be able to serve as many people as you can, and for you to get reimbursed and for your patients to get reimbursed.
Sure, sure. And I should mention you already said that you received that license as a mental health counselor and that was back in 1987. And then after that you became certified, as I mentioned in my introduction, in addiction, Gestalt therapy, hypnosis, sex therapy, and then psychoanalysis and so. I would imagine that you did that to, just to your point, be able to serve more and more of your patients’ needs. What kind of drove you to get more certification in those different areas?
Well, a lot of things, mainly that I felt very inadequate with the training that I had, which was basically cognitive behavioral therapy. And I think it has its place, but with people who have had a lot of trauma, it certainly doesn’t have a place there in terms of total healing, so. I felt inadequate and I also felt that I needed to do work on myself so and the Gestalt training we did participate and we did have a lot of therapy ourselves and certainly with psychoanalysis to be certified psychoanalysis, it’s very rigorous. It’s it’s like getting another doctorate degree. You have to write papers. You have to have two, uh, four years of personal psychoanalysis. I wound up having 13 years. you have to be supervised for four years and so and then you have to go before a committee. So it’s very rigorous and requires a lot of a lot of commitment. And so that’s why I did the psychoanalysis. I got certified in addiction because almost everybody that was coming in either had an addiction or knew someone that had an addiction. And I found out through my own process of counseling people with addictions that I had to face my own addiction so that was another component of my, my growth and my process. And then hypnosis was very helpful and just learn teaching people how to deescalate, how to relax. And I combine that with meditation and creative visualization or going back into the childhood or into different periods in time, and accessing unhealed wounds. So, all of these things were just components by choice that I that I really have enjoyed. I also became certified as a sex therapist because the during my career, the state of Florida passed a law that you couldn’t discuss sex without being certified in sex therapy. And we all know that, you know, if you’re going to be counseling people with addictions, there’s a lot of sex addiction. And I had to be able to discuss that. So, I went ahead and got that certification also.
Well, thank you for telling me a little bit about that. I realized just now that before when I was sharing the screen, I actually was sharing our screen so people were seeing us again. So let me correct that now and here is the correct screen that I wanted to share earlier and this is the screen that shows where you finished your undergrad. At Florida Atlantic University and then Nova NSU, Florida, and so I wanted to share that cause, a lot of visual people are out there. But then I also mentioned that there were a lot of different programs out in Florida. So, I’ll share this. And of course, we’ll, we’ll include the websites and the links. And then the follow up question that I had, you know you did receive your Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology and so a lot of people when they’re going to grad school, they start looking at the types of degrees and branches of psychology. But not only that, we talked about many different types of therapy as well. And so, a lot of people get overwhelmed with, Oh my gosh, if I have to be a counselor or a psychologist or a psychotherapist. Do I need to learn all of these? Well, the answer is no. But you will find ones that are more applicable to your counsel. You know your, your clients and your client base. So, talk to me for a moment about how did you decided on which types of therapy you wanted to get certified in?
Well, I explained about the addictions. A lot of people were coming in with addictions or family members or significant others with addictions, so that I just felt like I really needed to learn about. By the way, I never was. That’s the one thing I didn’t want to do is deal with addiction, but here in South Florida. Need I say more? And it was good, you know, because it did haunt me to face my own and to get into my own recovery process. But in terms of and, I explained that the sex therapy. But in terms of the gestalt therapy and psychoanalysis, I felt that I did not have the tools to help people to really have the experiential part of therapy that I think is really important for people who have had a lot of trauma either currently or in the past. And to also understand some of the very important components of the psychotherapy process, and that’s where psychoanalysis comes in. I really had no regard for Freud or anything about it. But the deeper I got into working with people, the more I realized I would hit these walls or these situations and I didn’t really understand them or how to deal with them and I started exploring. Actually I got a I got an invitation in the mail, you know, come to our presentation on psychoanalysis at The Southeast of Florida Institute for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy and I went and once I met the people and heard about it, and I was very intrigued. That was really difficult for me to be in that program because most of the people in the program were from New York or Columbia University and they already had like a ton of training and, and coursework and I was like I had no idea. I you know, it was very uncomfortable. But I’m so glad that I did it and I received 2 certifications, one in psychoanalytic psychotherapy and one in psychoanalysis. One was a two-year program, one was a four-year program and I’m so grateful for that. And I’m so grateful for what I learned from my personal analyst, who unfortunately passed away at a very young age of 66, I think, and suddenly, but she’ll always be in my heart. And I’m so grateful to her. She was a very skilled analyst. And I think that every therapist should have a lot of therapy and also have some psychoanalysis so you understand those difficult parts of working with someone and how to work through them and how to help your patients get beyond their barriers because whatever that’s going on out there is going to happen in the in the therapy. And if they’re willing, you know, not every, you know, not everybody’s willing. It’s, it’s tough to grow and a lot of times people come and fix me. Well, here’s here’s what that involves. Well, I don’t you know when it gets, when it gets tough. You know, people want to run or they want to stop or they want to quit. And when you’ve had psychoanalysis, you understand that feeling very well, but you also know how to get beyond it personally and then you can help someone else do that as well.
Well, that’s a good summary, because later on we’ll talk a little bit more about your book, your, your updated and new edition book as well as your forthcoming book and, and the challenges with having to face the reality and moving forward. So, I’ll almost say not only is it tough for clients to come face to face with the reality of this is what it’s going to take. It’s almost self. You know you have to look at yourself in terms of am I willing to go to that Master’s program? Am I willing to go through that doctorate program? Am I willing to do all these hours of supervision and then go on and and do that so along those same lines you had already mentioned a couple of, uh, pieces of advice for students if you added to do it all over again, MSW degree you mentioned, any other pieces of advice in terms of those for who are interested in counseling psychology or going a different route as well? Anything else that comes to mind for you right now?
Well, Florida Atlantic University has a masters in education program which does meet the requirements for state licensure of mental health counselors. There’s marriage and family therapist. There’s pastoral counseling. And now there are so many certifications available for coaching. A lot of people are choosing to be coaches while they’re training to be therapists, so I’m not opposed to that at all. I just would really encourage anybody that’s going to do that to get supervision from a seasoned therapist if said that they really have that guidance to help them through situations with people that they work with. So there’s, there’s Barry University, there’s Florida, South Florida. There’s so many and you already have them listed. I don’t need to recall all of them, but they’re all very good programs. Florida has really good graduate programs in psychology.
Yeah, they have a lot of different graduate programs whether or not you want to do a terminal master’s degree, or if you wanna continue on with your PhD or EdD as well. And so that kind of leads me to another question that I ask is many of our guests either get a PhD, PsyD, or an EdD and so back when you were going through school and considering that I know you already gave us a little bit of background on why you chose the, the schools that you did and why you went the adult education route for your EdD and your counseling psychology for your masters as well. Back then, was it really a question whether or not you should go the PhD route versus the EdD route or was it just because that that school at that time had that EdD in adult education? Is that why?
Well, at the time the PhD in psychology was very clinical and research orientated. I wanted to be a therapist, so I would have gone the PsyD program and Nova had a PsyD program that that was fairly new and I probably would have preferred to do that, but it was not a realistic. It just wasn’t realistic. Because of my, you know, my time availability and being a single mom.
Sure, sure. In terms of funding, a lot of undergrads and even graduate students are concerned about funding, and I’ve spoken to this multiple times in the past and high-level summary is if you know you want to receive your graduate degree and get a PhD, PsyD, EdD, your doctorate basically, go ahead and apply directly to the doctorate program because you really, the chances of you receiving scholarships, grants are much higher than if you only apply to a master’s terminal program. And so did you get any offers from NSU when you applied or tell us a little bit about that?
There wasn’t financial assistance available then. I, I didn’t know of any grants. I never heard of any grants or any type of, you know. Now they’ll even pay you, you know, to get your doctorate, and that was unavailable at all. I, uhm, I fortunately graduated from college debt, you know, debt free. I did not have loans or anything like that. For undergraduate, my parents helped me for my Master’s degree. My husband helped me with that and then at the time, and then for my doctorate I, I was had a very good practice going. So, I was able to pay for that myself.
While you were working on your doctorate, did you know what you wanted to do after receiving your EdD or you had already started doing that it almost sounds like.
Right. I felt that it would open more doors and it certainly did. When I was working on my doctorate degree, I had to come up with, you know, what are you going to do for your dissertation? And so when I met with my committee, I I told them about how my career had branched into addictions. And they said, well, is there anything about that that you’re concerned? And I said, I’m very concerned because I’ve been had a lot of therapy and no one that I’ve ever been to for the past 15 years has really understood anything about addictions and how it, you know, affected me as a child, how how it affected my own children and. And just it’s just so vast. It’s just such a problem and it’s just not talked about it it’s bizarre. And so they said, well, so you see a need for that kind of training. And I said, I do, I do see a need for that kind of training. And so they said, well, why don’t you? Why don’t you? I actually, I was teaching at the, someone had given my name to the community, the Community College where I went for my first two years. They had a continuing education program there and I had been teaching there I was teaching a course in miracles. I’ve been teaching that for the past 30 something years. And so when I told the director that my committee. Suggested that I develop a chemical dependency training program for the continuing Education Department. She was ecstatic and so she said of course we would love that and we will put the program in effect after you do that. So, I I did develop it. That was my dissertation and then the Community education director, her name was Donna DiSesa, and there was a there was a, at the time, a place here called Comprehensive Alcoholism Rehabilitation Program. It was a free treatment program and the director there, who was the director for over 40 years. Bob Bozzone is his name. He supported it also. So the three of us took the the materials and added some to it. But anyhow out of that came a program where any therapist, nurse or anyone that had these types of licenses, clinical social workers, family therapists could go and take any one of the courses that were offered and get continuing education credits or for someone who wanted to be a certified addiction professional, it met all the educational requirements for that and there was nothing available at the time. Later, Hanley Treatment Center put in a program. It’s no longer there. I helped them develop that as well, but so we had this and now, which I didn’t even know this until, like a year or two ago. Now, that continuing education program got moved into the college, which is no longer a Community College. It’s called Palm Beach State College and it’s a four-year degree in addiction. So it it makes me feel so good to have been able to make that contribution because I was really frustrated. I had no idea what to do my dissertation on and they really helped to bring that out of me and to give me the confidence to to do that.
That is wonderful. That’s a wonderful story as well, and I’ll kind of summarize in 1989 as part of your doctoral degree. You developed a chemical dependency training program. At the time it was called Palm Beach Community College, which has now turned into a four-year degree. And I believe you received the Florida Governors Council award for doing that and all that work that went into it and must make you feel good, make you feel good to actually see that still come up in on and help those who are interested in that field of addiction as well so.
I’m not a big award person, although they help you know they give they give, it’s a stamp of approval. And I was very honored to receive it. I I truly was. And and the college also granted an award, which was very nice, and so did CARP. So it was, you know, it. To me, it felt no big deal. But I I’ve learned to really accept it in my heart as a gift.
At the time when you received those, it’s like, oh, thank you. And then later on, you realize that was kind of more of a big deal than I thought it was.
I didn’t realize until I was writing my book and my editor kind of pulled that out. Like, have you ever had any kind of a, you know, awards or anything? And let me think and? She’s like that’s huge. You did what? You’ve never even mentioned this. You know, she was like all over it. So, I think that was the first time it really registered that, you know, you know, it was a contribution.
So at what point did you decide that you wanted to open your own private practice?
Well, I did that right after I finished my masters degrees because I went around in job interviews and like I said, the pay was less even with the masters, the pay was less than what I could make as a waitress. So I just, you know, I when I would bring that up, you know it it really I didn’t get hired. No matter how how you know dressed, I was or. Anything I just. Like you know, you’re only paying what you know. How hard I work for this master’s degree. And, well, this is the entry level. So anyhow, it it just wasn’t meant to be, so I actually ran into a colleague. I I was teaching at crisis. It was called Crisis Line at the time and I was teaching there teaching crisis intervention, suicide prevention and intervention. And there was a student there who was on a similar trajectory that I’d been on and he was finished and he was ready to to do something also. So we said, well, let’s just start, you know, let’s let’s find an office somewhere. We rented a group room from a local psychologist. We started there doing groups and then once people started wanting to see us. Individually I kind of looked around for an office. I found a nice little office that we could share and then before you know, within a year we each had our own offices with a nice big waiting room and and we were very busy. We started getting referrals from a lot of different sources.
Congratulations. It’s always fun talking about the history and especially the journey associated with getting started with your own private practice and your business and that kind of leads me to my next question. It is a business and so you know, what about accounting and billing, insurance, marketing. Did you eventually have to do that yourself or did you eventually hire out to get some help in those areas? Tell us a little bit more about that.
I’ve I’ve always. I’ve always done the billing myself. It’s not hard at all. I’ve always done my own accounting. I’m mean I have an accountant for my taxes. But for the business aspects, I’ve always done myself.
And then marketing, it sounds like it was more word of mouth and references than anything.
Oh, I never. No advertising, it was all word of mouth.
So, here’s a question that I.
Also, you know, I I never I I love teaching also when I was at the Community College teaching, I love that. And then just kind of just kind of drifted away from it over time, but you would think you would get patients from that, but I didn’t. That was, you know, more of people who were studying to be addictions counselor. They weren’t really going in to private practitioners like me to to get that, but we would do a lot of therapeutic stuff in the classrooms, group therapy and stuff like that, so.
Well, I did see that in in kind of your history as well. And your experience who served as an adjunct professor and a psychotherapist for a number of years as well. Whenever I talk to somebody who is a counselor or a therapist or a psychologist, and they have their own practice, I usually ask them if you were in therapy, Dr. Marks, describe your ideal therapist.
Well, I had her. That was my psychoanalyst. She she represented someone, although she didn’t understand addictions, unfortunately. But she certainly understood psychoanalysis. And I I needed that type of attach, to be able to form that type of an attachment. And when I first met her, I knew she was very healthy. She was. She could, I could tell. She took care of herself and she was extremely knowledgeable. She she was known all over. She was Argentinian and her mother was a famous analyst in Argentina, so she had a lifetime of experiences learning about psychoanalysis. And she really changed and opened my mind about all of it. You know so much now is talking, taken from Freud and not giving credit. The whole attachment disorder theory and all of that is Freud from years ago, and the transference and the and the different. It’s just all, he said it all. There’s nothing new, in my opinion, he said it all. It’s just that people haven’t read it and I could never read it all. There’s just volumes and volumes. And he was so erudite. And he won not only awards as a, as a psychiatric psychology, but as a writer. He won many awards, he was incredibly, he was the Einstein of psychology. I had no understanding of that or appreciation of it and through her I learned so much that I it it definitely changed me and helped me to have a much better skill set. And help me to be able to feel safe with another human being for the first time in my life and to trust and to manage all my anxieties that were going on under the surface and I, by the way, the classical analysis, which means you lie down on the couch. You don’t even get eye contact, so it was very challenging. But I not only did the four years, like I said, I continued on for 13. It was a very enriching experience for me.
Well, it sounds like it helped you personally as well as in the long run it helps your clients and your business to run your business practice and your private practice as well. I’m sharing the screen and and I’m bringing up your website right now and you have a lot of good information on the website and what I wanted to share was, of course, we’re going to talk about your book in a second here, but you, you talk a lot about the different types of therapy and then you also talk about all these different articles that are available in podcasts and some meditations that are available on your website as well. A little bit of history about you as well, and then some of the more information about the books. And so that’s a good transition to talk about the books and when we go there, you’ve written multiple books, but there are some more recent ones. And one of them includes Learn Grow Forgive: A Path to Spiritual Success back in 2021. And then Exit the Maze: One Addiction, One Cause, One Solution. And recently that’s the expanded updated edition right here. And that came out fairly recently on December 13th, 2022. Again, that’s the second edition expanded or updated edition on this one. This is an interesting book. You can actually look at this and look at where you can order it, and then here’s the original I believe. So, this was the original face cover of our book cover, and then the newer cover. But here the awards I believe you’ve received over 25 different awards for this book as well. And knowing a little bit about your journey, it kind of naturally led to your forthcoming book that’s going to be coming out as well. And we’ll talk about that. But give us kind of a high level view of this book, Exit the Maze: One Addiction, One Cause, One Cure for us.
OK, so I had written Learn Grow Forgive: A Path to Spiritual Success. I self-published it and I enjoyed it and so I decided I wanted to write another book. There was a lot involved in all this. I was I was not doing any writing at the time I’ve loved creative writing, one of the one of the courses I didn’t sleep through in high school and but this was like nonfiction, which is a whole different thing. You can be creative, but it’s not creative writing. I knew that by the time I wrote the second book, I needed an editor. My husband actually was my first editor and he’s excellent. But you know, I wanted to stay married, so I hire somebody this time. And because it is a friction thing and it’s like someone critiquing your art. So I found that I had gone to a publicity summit up in New York to promote my first book. And I had met this lovely woman up there. Her name is Robin Colucci, and she agreed to be my editor for my second book, and within three months we had it written. And I started, it wasn’t her suggestion, but I started submitting it for awards because I know I needed to get recognition. I I’m I’m not an Ivy League school person. I don’t have any connections. And you know, we talked about whether or not to try and find an agent and it’s really difficult to find an agent. She might have found me one, but she suggested that I self-publish it, and I could probably it would be more profitable for me to do that. So, I did. There’s a lot involved in that. I did hire some experts for different. You know, if you have to do the final editing the line editing, you have to have someone to cover the design. You have to have someone who knows how to do all the Amazon aspects. So, we were finished. I I presented it at the publicity summit again, I got a lot of good feedback. The publicity summits where you meet different people in the media, you get invited on podcast news shows and things like that, like we’re doing now. Then we then, I said. I’m going to submit it for some awards because the people that were reading it were giving me great feedback, so I just looked up Book Awards on the Internet and there’s all kinds and I submitted it to about, probably 35 different awards and won 27 of those. So that was like I was over the moon the first time I got an award. I was like jumping up and down. I just couldn’t believe it. It was so exciting. And so through another set of serendipitous events, I met someone who had asked me about my book and I’ve told I I told her that it had won a lot of awards. And she said you should meet my friend, the book agent. And so as a result of that, I we loved each other. She chose to represent me, and then she immediately found me a publisher, and I had already written during COVID I’d written the third book, The Healing Moment, and so we did a proposal. And they said they would publish it. It’s called Beyond Words publishing, and they have an imprint with Simon Schuster, which means that they do all the publication. Simon Schuster distributes the book. So that’s a win win situation. And so, while I was talking to them about The Healing Moment, they said they’re very intrigued by this Exit the Maze, would I consider revising it. And I said, of course. So they published that one, and it did come out last December, and it’s doing very well.
Good, good. That’s good to hear. I actually have on the website here. I’ll share it when we go live as well, a little bit more about Simon and Schuster and about the author. And then you you referenced that they were able to get that new updated version updated and revised version of Exit the Maze out there. I read a little some of the excerpts of of the books and and one of the things that kind of stood out for me was of course you you love the addiction aspect of and you you have become an addiction specialist. And so what makes your definition of addiction different from others?
Well, I don’t know that it’s my definition is all that different, you know, continuing to do the same thing despite negative consequences. Otherwise, you know, you wouldn’t keep doing it, if you weren’t addicted. And you know, there’s certainly a difference between bad habits like speeding, and occasionally you might get a ticket, but the consequences aren’t destroying your life in in most cases. So, there’s, there’s just severe consequences, either legally to your own self-esteem or your personal relationships, your children, your spouse, your loved ones. That that’s my definition. I think it’s clearly most of the industry’s definition. However, there has been a shift recently in psychology and in treatment to not call it addiction anymore. They’re calling it brain disorder, substance use disorder, different behavior disorders. And I think that’s a travesty because that model says that I’m born this way. And I don’t believe that I’m born this way. I don’t believe that I’m born with the gene that says I had to smoke that first cigarette, and then the subsequent 5 packs immediately. There’s, I don’t think there’s a gene that said I had to ever pick up my first drink. There’s not a gene that said I had to get married so many times and just to have be addicted to love. And La La La La la. You know, they just. I don’t believe that. I think that that was learned behavior. So I believe there’s one addiction and I call it that invisible hole. That feeling that something’s missing. And I’m always searching for that next thing. So, I say there’s one addiction. It’s that place that we’re trying to fill up, that empty tank with all the wrong things. So it’s great that that treatment and and 12 steps you know they have the way to stop it. That’s good that whatever you go to get treated for they teach you how to stop it. And they even now deal with the underlying trauma that may, you know, keep you in a reactive mode, which makes you more likely to relapse. But what they haven’t been doing is teaching people that addiction is an attachment disorder. It’s an attachment to a deadly behavior instead of a loving behavior. So, when I’m working with people, I teach them how to replace that feeling that they’re getting that high, which feels like love, but it’s not with actual acts of self-love.
Well, that’s a good summary because I had another question here. You you you know, I was going to ask why do you believe that every addiction is a substitute for love? And this leads me to this follow-up question is OK, if we identify it that way and there are steps out there, I recall reading that you you said some of the steps aren’t really addressing the root cause of this, it’s just just you didn’t use these words, but I view it as a Band-Aid. I’m gonna make you feel good. Go home. But you’re still missing something. And so how do you substitute that addiction with love? You mentioned self-love, but how do you teach somebody who doesn’t love themselves how to learn to truly love themselves?
Well, I certainly didn’t love myself and when it was put in my face and that was my problem by my higher power, after relapsing after a long time of sobriety, I had to really think about that. Well, what in the world does that even mean that I don’t love myself? So, I kind of took it back. I kind of integrated everything I’ve ever learned about psychology and when a child is nurtured and felt valuable and there’s an absence of abuse, there’s an absence of neglect. There’s an absence of verbal, physical, sexual abuse. They’re that that, that they’re they’re they feel so good about themselves. They feel so comforted. They feel so nurtured and so loved and they’re told positive things. That child goes out into the world feeling loved. They they are fed healthy food, they now they have schedules, they rest, they have friends, they play with. You know, there’s balance. Their parents teach them how to navigate their way through stress, how to navigate their way through life. A lot of us never got that, so I had to learn how to love myself in those ways. How to be a friend? How to allow people to be friends to me, how to eat healthy? How to sleep? How to have some kind of a schedule that that worked? How to discipline myself? How to refrain from attacking somebody and managing my emotions in a healthy way? I mean, I could go on and on and on and on and on. In fact, in The Healing Moment we list, you know, like 77 ways on my website. I think I have 100 and something ways to self-love. Love is not an experience, it is an action. And once you learn how to love from that place of taking care of yourself in a healthy way, and those actions then that feeling that self-esteem fills, that empty hole inside and you feel good about yourself.
I’m sharing the screen again while it’s loading up here. I remember reading someplace that you were talking about there are three different kinds of love. Is my memory correct there?
Well, I recently did a a show and also a blog about the the meaning the different meanings of love. Yes, to have appreciation. That’s one action.
And to keep an open heart. You know, our closed heart does not let love in and then the and then the third thing was to be able to take care of yourself because you can’t love anybody more than you love yourself. And certainly nobody can love you more than you love yourself. So one of the things that I teach people is that, you know, rather than trying to get love and and that’s where it gets misdirected, you know, I can get it from a person. I can get it from alcohol. I can get it from this I can get it from no. Be the love that you want and then you will have it.
And so, since you were talking about there, I I was looking at your YouTube website as well on your channel I should say and and you have some other podcasts on here as well that talked about Exit the Maze podcast and then some of the other ones. One of the ones that kind of was highlighted here You Are Not Broken and that leads a little bit more into self-love. I’m going to go back to this one because this is the Simon and Schuster The Healing Moment: Seven Paths to Turn Messes into Miracles of Love. Feel free to go here. It gives you a little bit more about the book and then more books from you as well. You do have a download section here as well that kind of gives you a little bit more about the photo, the book cover, and then more about the author on here as well. Anything that you can kind of add to I I read kind of summaries of your previous books kind of leading up to this one. As I mentioned earlier, can you speak to when you started thinking I should write another book and focus on this? So, tell us about kind of that Genesis when you started thinking about, I should write another book. And why did you write this book?
Well, everything changed. And so during COVID, people actually at the time was had several therapists as patients and and other people too. But people were counseling left and right, and I’m said, you know, I’m going to think about this because COVID is not a reason to stop therapy. It’s a reason to really get deeper into it. But I can’t do all the work. And I’ve been doing this for a long time. I’ve, I’ve published a couple of books now, and I think I’m going to change things. And so, I kind of meditated about it and it came to me to, to do 2 things, one, write another book, because you’re going to have more free time. And and 2nd to totally transform my psychotherapy practice from the regular even the psychoanalytic part of it, where someone would come in two or three times a week or just, you know, the regular counseling just once a week I was going to transform that into a concierge practice. And I did that three years ago when someone called, I said I’m no longer doing that kind of counseling. I’m just doing concierge therapy. Well, what does that mean? Is it like a concierge doctor? I said. Well, it’s a lot more intense than that. You sign up for one month at a time, you come in for two days of intensive. Then you have an additional two or three sessions a week for up to a month. You can upgrade to 3-6-9 months or a year if you choose to do more. I’m available to you 24/7 and I expect you to exercise that. Well, I thought you weren’t supposed to be dependent on therapists. I said, you know, for someone who has had trauma or has not had a good attachment with anybody their entire life? This is a way to learn how to trust and to have an attachment. You know, kids didn’t have a mom, let’s say to to respond to them in the middle of the night when they were freaked out. So, it it doesn’t happen that people call a lot, but they do call. And then when they know that they can call, they have that support and then through psychoanalysis, I know how to help them through the blocks and and when they get stuck, if they’re willing and things like that. So, they can involve anybody they want. I like to work with the whole system. I’ve worked with business systems. I’ve I’ve worked with family systems. I’ve worked with couples, it doesn’t matter. And so, all these experiences are coming into this, and I’ve been doing it for three years. It’s done very, very well and I I plan on doing my the rest of my career strictly concierge, hopefully doing a little more teaching and I’m also. I’m now working on my 4th book.
Well, I should mention that The Healing Moment is scheduled to be released in April, April 11th, 2023. I you already answered the question I already had it up here on my screen. What is concierge and counseling and and you summarized, and it actually makes sense because if somebody is going through those problems, especially addiction, and they need that support right then and there in that moment. Ohh my gosh, my next counseling session with Dr. Marks isn’t until next Tuesday. I have to wait, or I have to write something down or log or something and then go to her and tell her this. Instead, you can call you up right away and get through that moment right away put things into perspective, and then those the number of moments like that slowly decrease and then you become more self-sufficient though. I’m speaking on your behalf, but that’s what I imagine how this concierge works.
So, I I I can see how that’s logical, especially for somebody who needs to build up their self-esteem, self-trust, self-love. And especially going through that addiction. So, I applaud you for doing that. And I didn’t know that you you made that change on your practice for now three years going to this concierge therapy. I do one thing did cross my mind. I gotta be honest about 24/7. Come on. What if you’re sleeping? How many times do you get woken up in the middle of the night?
I think maybe once or twice the whole time.
OK, OK. All right.
Yeah, very rarely. And I’m I’m always so happy that someone has taken that risk and done it.
Right, right. So when you were working on your undergraduate and graduate degrees, did you ever think that you would be where you are now? In other words, you’re an educator, you’re a writer, you’re a concierge psychotherapist and addiction counselor in Palm Beach, FL. Back then, did you even consider, oh my gosh, I’m going to be all of these things in the future, and kind of reflect on it similar to those awards that you received.
Oh, never, never, never. That was not on my radar at. All, it’s just it. It was just things that evolved and that came to me and and that’s what I, you know, I’d like to convey to to your listeners is that you are choosing this profession for a reason and the number one priority that I would recommend to anybody is there’s so many unhealed healers out there. And I was one of them. Heal yourself. Get get some therapy. Really, get your own house in order. As you’re as you’re studying so that you’re ready. You know, you’re really ready to understand that, you know, you think relationships are tough now, wait until you have 10 or 12 of them going on at once. You know, you really want to be squared up. You wanna be healthy? You wanna be like the kind of parent that you that that produces healthy children, you know, so it’s very similar. It’s the same process. And so that would be really important. And then let yourself be creative. Let yourself teach and experiment with writing you can, you know, do blogs. You don’t have to write a book. There’s so many things, podcasts. There’s so many different areas that you can go into.
Well, good suggestions. So if I had to ask you a tough question, what do you love most about your job?
Uh, the thing that’s clear the the the most special part is when I see someone who originally comes in and is very wounded or in a lot of pain, and they know what they want, and then they get there, you know, to see that happen, to see someone who’s really separated or who’s really hurting or in a lot of pain, or who has addictions on the other side of that, you know, with the life and happiness and joy and and fulfillment it, it is the most gratifying thing in the world.
That’s great. At the end of most of our podcasts, Dr. Marks, we usually ask some fun questions, so I’m going to ask you a few of them. Number one is tell me something unique about yourself.
I don’t know how to answer that.
You’ve already shared some. You’ve already shared that you went through your own.
Yeah, I don’t know. I don’t know what I don’t really know what I could add to that. You know, I’m a very independent thinker. I I really like to take in a lot of information and analyze it and fact check before I make up my mind about something, so I think that’s kind of unique nowadays.
OK, you just don’t go off the cuff. You’d rather have all that information before you make an educated response as well.
Especially when it comes to politics and the state of affairs and things like that, yeah.
Definitely, definitely. What is your favorite term, principle, or theory and why?
Well, I think it would definitely be psychoanalysis. It’s just so rich and so challenging and it’s something I’ll never master. And the same thing with the Course of Miracles. You know, it’s a challenging spirituality course. It’s psychoanalytic in nature. And I could never master it. It’s a process.
It is self-development for your whole life is is an entire process as well. Do you have any other advice for those interested in the field of psychology?
Follow your dream. If you feel that, don’t do it for the money. The money will come if you’re supposed to be doing it. If you’re not, if you’re not supposed to be doing it, then do something else in psychology instead of therapy. There’s you can teach, you know, like I said, you can write. You can. You can work in in clinics. And you can work in addictions. You can specialize in certain areas. But figure it out, but don’t just do it for the money, because that’s not going to be a happy place to be it. You know, psychologists are born, they’re not made, in my opinion. You know, I think we those of us that have done it our whole lifetime knew when they we can’t landed down here that that’s what we were going to be doing and all of the experiences. All the pain, all the challenges. It was the training and that was the real training, not in the classroom, but in life and the mistakes and converting those that that’s that’s really what it’s going to take to to really be fulfilled in the field.
If you had the time and money, Donna, if if you had the time and money to complete one project or go on one trip, what would you do?
Well, I don’t have any more projects to complete other than to finish my writing, I probably the trip would be like a nice long cruise around the world where I could kind of teach some of this on the cruise and and and not wouldn’t necessarily be a commercial cruise. It might be a private cruise with my private patients. So, something like that’s on my on my vision board.
That would be fun and interesting at the same time. So hey, Donna, is there anything else that you’d like to bring up or discuss on this podcast?
No, thank you. I’m very happy to have been on here and shared with you. Thank you.
I appreciate you being on the podcast as well. Sharing your journey with us. I will share all of the websites that we discussed, and I’ll even look up some of those people that you all also mentioned during our discussion as well. Thank you so much for being on the podcast.