In the spring of 2008, a couple of Ottawa-area psychologists began to realize that the discussions they were having about their own children and families may be of interest to other parents and couples. Rather than just talking the talk, Dr. Giuseppe Spezzano and Dr. Brian MacDonald walk the walk. They felt that people may be interested in knowing how professional psychologists actually use the advice they give to others in their own lives. They also knew that there was a great deal of psychological research on families, but this information was not getting to the people who need it most – children, youth and parents.
Out of these discussions, Family Anatomy was born. Family Anatomy is an online podcast and blog through which Drs. MacDonald and Spezzano go beyond their offices to share their personal and professional experiences as psychologists, fathers and husbands. While there are other psychologists’ views and opinions accessible on the Internet, Family Anatomy is the first to focus on kids and families. It takes listeners and readers behind the curtain of professional psychology to reveal both the personal, and 25 years of combined professional expertise, of its hosts. Given the current economic environment, having credible, reliable and free information for couples and families – accessible to anyone with an Internet connection – is particularly valuable. Dr. Spezzano believes that the Family Anatomy podcast and website have been one way to address this.
“When I work with kids, I see how much of a difference parenting information could make in their lives. It breaks your heart to know that the obstacles are often a lack of resources, or the stigma of going into a professional’s office,” he said.
The purpose of Family Anatomy show is to provide free research-based information in an easy-to-understand and entertaining package. It gives busy parents and couples a backstage pass to see how psychologists deal with relationship and parenting issues in their own lives. In addition, the show helps parents see that knowing what to do, and actually doing it, are universal challenges to which even psychologists are not immune. For example, Family Anatomy’s first episode, “The Anatomy of Sleep”, was inspired by the many sleepless nights both hosts experienced with their newborn babies. Dr. MacDonald, in particular, felt this was an experience virtually all parents could relate to.
“Before becoming a parent, my work with families was based on research. Being a dad gives a new appreciation for the struggles of parents – I wish Family Anatomy had been around when I was a new father,” he said.
Since March 2008 Family Anatomy has recorded more than 100 shows. Previous topics have included Back to School, Childhood Anxiety and Essential Relationship Skills. The Family Anatomy podcast is available as a free download on the Internet and from the iTunes store. It is also a daily blog that focuses on clinical and research information relevant to parents and couples.