Member since: 1982
Occupation: Child psychologist in Exeter, N.H., and author of the “What to Do Guides for Kids” for APA’s Magination Press.
Organized psychology activities: Huebner is the New Hampshire State Psychological association’s public relations chair and her state’s coordinator for APA’s Public Education Committee.
Empowering kids: Huebner didn’t plan to be a child psychologist. At the University of Michigan, where she received her doctorate in 1987, she focused on adult psychodynamic therapy. But a first job on a child abuse team changed her population, and personal experience changed her approach. As a child, her son Eli — now a college sophomore — struggled with anxiety. “I was casting around trying to help him and landed on cognitive-behavioral therapy,” she remembers. “It made a huge difference, and I started using it in my practice.”
Now Huebner helps children age 12 and under cope with what she calls “heavy-duty” anxiety disorders. Her goal for both her practice and her books is the same: empowerment. “Therapy isn’t just about managing the problem or desperately trying to make it go away,” she says. “It’s about teaching kids skills they can use to get on top of their problems.”
Doctor, heal thyself: The publication of Huebner’s first book, “What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming Anxiety” (APA, 2005), brought speaking requests. “Public speaking terrified me,” Huebner admits. “I felt so hypocritical because here I had written a best-selling book on managing anxiety, and I was too nervous to talk about it.” To overcome her fears, she used the same techniques she uses with her patients, assigning herself homework and working through a desensitization program. Huebner also saw first-hand how empowering overcoming a problem can be. “And it’s reassuring as a professional to see that this stuff really does work,” she adds.
Biggest frustration: Huebner hears from parents around the world about how helpful her books have been. The problem? There simply aren’t enough psychologists doing cognitive-behavioral therapy with children. “I get calls from people trying to figure out if they’re going to drive two hours each way to see me,” she says.
A taste for travel: When it comes to vacations, Huebner and her husband, James — a physics teacher — love adventure. To celebrate her 50th birthday, Huebner invited friends to Honduras, where they snorkeled among eight-foot rays and other sea life, swam with dolphins and zipped through the treetops on a high-wire line. “I selected six women who’ve been influential in my life: a nursery school friend, a grad school friend, my editor and some local friends,” says Huebner. “It was wonderful!”
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