Wyckoff Psychologist & Author
Shares His Secrets For Happiness

finding coping strategies to achieving a healthy self-esteem By James Leggate

The key to happiness is not as elusive as some people may think, according to Dr. Kenneth Herman, the author of Secrets from the Sofa: A Psychologist's Guide to Achieving Personal Peace.

Dr. Herman, who has lived in Wyckoff since 1967 and raised four children here, spoke about his book and living a good life to an audience packed into the library's conference room Thursday night.

According to Herman, happiness basically comes from happy thoughts.

"Recognize your strengths and pat yourself on the back for being a special person," Herman said.

However, just as positive thoughts can lead to happiness, negative thoughts can cause depression and anxiety, Herman said. It is better to prepare for problems in life than to worry about them.

"If you expect it to be difficult, you can think about solutions instead of getting frustrated," Herman said.

While the philosophy may seem simple, it's built on a lifetime of experience. Herman has practiced psychology for about 50 years, published numerous articles, directed the Psychological Service Center in Teaneck and is now on the Bergen Volunteer Medical Initiative board of trustees, which provides free primary care to those who cannot afford it.

In his book, Herman delves deeper into the subject of inner peace and the process of achieving it, which includes identifying sources of unhappiness, avoiding "conflicting urges" like smoking after going to the gym, and finally coping with anxiety, guilt and stress.

In his own life, Herman enjoys family time, visiting garage sales, restoring old furniture and working out at the gym five days a week. What he does still want is to help more people find happiness like his own.

"For as many people as [the book] has helped, I'm never satisfied. I wish it would help thousands," Herman said.

Reprinted from the Wyckoff Patch newspaper, 9/23/2011. Written by James Leggate.

Psychologist shares his "secrets" for positive change

Many people start out seeking happiness, success, and peace of mind become stuck in unrewarding jobs or destructive relationships, and may neglect their physical or emotional health, according to board certified clinical psychologist Kenneth Herman. Dr. Herman, who has practiced over 45 years and has logged over 100,000 clients, is now offering some of his life changing "secrets" in his new book, Secrets from the Sofa. The Wyckoff resident's reader friendly self-help book does not involve clients' secrets, but rather proven methods of learning to cope with change, anxiety, depression, fear, anger, and guilt.

"Unfortunately, people feel safe and comfortable with familiar emotions," Dr. Herman says. 'Even misery is at times preferred to the anticipated anxiety associated with change. Emotionally, individuals question whether change is necessary, even possible."

finding coping strategies to achieving a healthy self-esteem     Secrets from the Sofa uses a cognitive behavioral approach to help readers make sense of the past and keep an open mind about the future. Although it is impossible to change the past, Dr. Herman encourages readers to explore how the past affects the present. For example, he believes that the more an individual can understand about early parental models of attachment, the more freedom that individual can have to act in new ways moving forward.

The book, Dr. Herman says, assists readers in becoming their own psychologist, but also in knowing when to seek professional help. "Secrets from the Sofa" includes case studies and self-reflection questions that help readers to think and behave in a healthy manner, realize their potential, trust their judgement, be self-reliant and confident, overcome the past, acknowledge personal strengths, be assertive when necessary, and seek resolutions to problems.

Dr. Herman shares his step-by-step approach to helping people change and achieve a greater sense of worth and purpose. Once readers can identify they need to work on, they can create and execute a plan for behavioral change. He explains that the book is not a substitute for therapy, but is intended as a catalyst for change.

He encourages readers to realize their own potential, maximising their strengths, and realizing that failure is not forever.

Now 80, Dr. Herman grew up in Englewood, and believed he was a poor student. During World War II, he became a Sergeant in the U.S. Army's armored artillery and spent time helping people who had been interred in concentration camps. Although he was only 18, he was in charge of men twice his age. "I realized I had a mind," he recalled.

Herman, who had not yet finished high school when he set off for Europe, completed his course work at night once he returned to the United States. He then completed four years of college in only three years, and earned a Master's from Boston University and a Doctorate from Columbia University.

He is currently working on the Bergen Volunteer Medical Initiative. His goal is to open a free medical and dental center for uninsured residents of Bergen County. Plans are now processing, and involve 100 people from various professions, he said.

Reprinted from the Villadom Times, Page 11. 4/25/07.