Motivating Relationship Change Author Interview: Barry McCarthy

Barry McCarthy, PhD, is a clinical psychologist, professor of psychology, and a certified sex and marital therapist. He has published extensively on couples and sexuality and has run over 300 professional workshops nationally and internationally. He is also the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2009 Smart Marriages Impact Award. Most recently, he is the author of Rekindling Desire, 2nd Edition, and Therapy with Men After 60.

What is the biggest challenge facing practitioners who are working with clients who want or need to make a lifestyle change?

Motivation is crucial. Specifically, the client or couple must agree to a plan that will involve gradual changes rather than fast, sweeping changes. They must agree not to be distracted by occasional setbacks.

Why is it important to take time to work on self-improvement issues?

Changing attitudes, behaviors, and emotions is a challenging process, which requires time and energy.

What is the most important thing practitioners treating clients trying to make changes should know?

The most important factor for addressing intimacy and sexual issues is to emphasize "good enough" changes rather than the media-driven perfect performance myths.

What is the most prevalent misconception about self-improvement and making lifestyle changes?

"Pop Psychology" emphasizes dramatic, perfect performance and change. The scientific and clinical reality is having positive, realistic expectations for change promotes self-efficacy and increases the likelihood that one will stick with a change program.

Is there anything in particular that you’d like to highlight about the topic or your book?

Therapy for men after 60 is a largely ignored topic. Till now the focus has been on the man as the deficit client. Therapy with Men After 60 focuses on a pro-male, pro-relationship, pro-sexuality theme and embraces the need to recognize and meet the challenges of aging while at the same time confronting the "poisons" that subvert male physical and psychological well-being.