Dennis talks to Dr. Stephan Poulter, a clinical psychologist specializing in family relationships. His latest books are The Father Factor: How Your Father’s Legacy Impacts Your Career and The Mother Factor: How Your Mother’s Emotional Legacy Impacts Your Life.
Dr. Poulter says that children orient to the most emotionally healthy parent.
Dr. Stephan B. Poulter is a licensed clinical psychologist with a private practice in West Los Angeles, California. He has worked in various settings with more than 2,200 fathers and sons in the last twenty-three years.
Before he became a psychologist, he attended theological seminary as well as serving as a police officer with the city of Glendale, California. While attending graduate school and working full-time as a police officer, his law enforcement specialty was working with “at risk” juveniles, primarily young (twelve- to eighteen-year-olds) male criminal offenders, in programs designed to redirect their anger and salvage their future. This work sparked his realization that America is facing an epidemic of fatherless boys and rage, pain, and violence are the results. It motivated Dr. Poulter to give up the ministry and pursue a doctorate in clinical psychology with an emphasis on adolescent male development.
Dr. Poulter, himself the son of an emotionally distant father, has been interested in the relationship between fathers and sons for more than twenty years. During college he worked as a youth counselor and a camp director during the summers with adolescent boys. After completing his doctoral dissertation, which was entitled “Misdiagnosis of Acting out Adolescents,” he ran a United Way counseling agency and oversaw school interventions for “at risk” students within the Los Angeles Unified School District. He has worked with a wide range of fathers and sons in all socioeconomic levels from the poorest to the wealthiest Hollywood celebrities. The issues are all the same: father and son relationships.
In 1998 he co-authored Mending the Broken Bough: Restoring the Promise of the Mother and Daughter Relationship (Berkley Books) with Dr. Barbara Zax. In promoting the book around the country, he quickly discovered that “as much as I knew about the relationships between girls and their mothers, women preferred to hear about these issues strictly from another woman, not a man. It was then that I realized what I really needed to write about was something that hits much closer to home, and which has so crucially shaped my own life: becoming the kind of father to your son that you never had yourself, but always wanted and hoped for.” It was this realization that eventually led to the writing of his book Father Your Son: How to Become the Father You’ve Always Wanted to Be.
In addition to his current practice, Dr. Poulter appears regularly on radio talk shows and news programs. He holds public speaking engagements and workshops that creatively address various aspects of the father/child relationship. The father of a boy and a girl, Dr. Stephan Poulter is passionate about the issue of fathers’ needing to be active, present, and involved with their children—and that passion is reflected in every aspect of his career.