Laurie Helgoe on the Power and Challenges of Introversion

Laurie Helgoe on the Power and Challenges of Introversion

by Lawrence Rubin
Explore common misconceptions clinicians often have about introverts and how to help your introverted clients find the strengths intrinsic to their “inner laboratories.” 

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An Inner Laboratory

Lawrence Rubin: How would you, as a person, a clinician, a researcher, and a writer, define introversion?
Laurie Helgoe:
if you think of where you do your processing, where you work things out, where your laboratory is—it’s internal for an introvert
Introversion at its simplest is an inward orientation. If you think of where you do your processing, where you work things out, where your laboratory is—it’s internal for an introvert. In contrast, the extrovert’s laboratory is more external, and this difference translates to a lot of things. Introverts go inward to think things through. If there’s a question to be answered, like the one you just asked me, I might pause and kind of go inside myself to try to work out the answer before I speak. An extrovert might do that work interactively by giving you a partial answer and then engaging you in a back-and-forth until that answer is fully worked out. There’s not one “right” way, but the challenge for an introvert is if there’s not that space to go inside.

So, there’s a lot that goes with that. Many introverts talk about feeling energized through solitude. Part of that is just because they don’t have anything intruding on their thought process and kind of relax into it more easily.
LR: Being energized through solitude is interesting because we seem to live in a society in which we’re taught, or encouraged, or modeled, to seek energizing through connection, through activity, through accomplishment, through the immediacy of social media. So does that inherently place introverts against the current in our society?
LH: I think so, and that is why many introverts end up feeling bad about themselves or feeling that there’s something wrong, because we have these portrayals of the fun in life, the energizing aspects of life, as being social. I remember when one of the major phone carriers had this “friends and family” ad where one person was surrounded by this mob of people. That just sold me because it did just the opposite of what it intended because that looked like hell to me. Somehow, having that easy connection with this mob of friends and family was supposed to be what people wanted. And then when I think of the sitcom Friends, which just had a reunion show, there was the idea that people could just randomly pop into my space and I would always enjoy having them on the couch.

I think there are a lot of ways that introverts wonder things like, “Why aren’t I having fun at this party?” and “Why can’t I wait to get home and have what is considered fun for me?”
None of that fit for me, so I think there are a lot of ways that introverts wonder things like, “Why aren’t I having fun at this party?” and “Why can’t I wait to get home and have what is considered fun for me?” And in their case, that would mean getting back to a great book, or walking their dog, or just reading with space around them.
LR: I go back to that interesting analogy you made of the introvert having this internal laboratory. Is that contrasted with the extrovert, whose laboratory is the stage rather than a private enclave, and if so, does the introvert shy away from the public stage because that’s not where they process and how they process?
LH: Right. That’s an interesting question, because I happen to enjoy acting and I’m an introvert. But I think, and this is what reveals the complexity of introverts and extroverts, is that each may have different aspects, different ways in which people are introverted or extroverted. For example, public speaking is a common fear that is not confined to introverts. There are many extroverts who are terrified of public speaking despite the interest in and programming for obtaining external rewards—to get those smiles, to get those responses from others. In fact, there are dopaminergic pathways that reinforce external rewards, and these light up for the extrovert when they are socially stimulated.

I think introverts like me who enjoy the stage like teaching, acting, and performing in front of others, and particularly like the fact that they can do it in a structured way
There are fMRI findings and studies which show that introverts respond pretty much the same to images of flowers or people, whereas extroverts are very much more responsive to people-related stimuli. But while these positive, people-related stimuli can engage extroverts, they can also distract them from seeing the whole picture. Extroverts can in a way distort reality toward the positive because they really like these people-related rewards. It would be an extroverted kind of characteristic for someone to like the stage. That said, I think introverts like me who enjoy the stage like teaching, acting, and performing in front of others, and particularly like the fact that they can do it in a structured way, one that they planned and practiced for as opposed to being put on the spot. This is because when introverts are put on the spot, they don’t have time to go to their laboratory.

Misconceptions

LR: I’m fascinated by the notion of the inner laboratory—it has almost an Eastern sound to it. This makes me wonder if the so-called “extrovert ideal” is more of the dominant Western narrative, and that the benefits of introversion have only recently been recognized along with mindfulness practice and the integration of Buddhism into the clinical landscape.
LH:
in Eastern cultures, it can be the opposite, where extroverts are seen as a little weird or really out there
It’s so interesting you raise that, because there has been a lot of research suggesting just what you’re saying, which is that there is a very strong bias toward happiness in our culture—but a specific kind of happiness. Even the studies that have shown extroverts to be happier only tend to look at one facet of happiness, which is a high arousal-positive affect. But the research doesn’t look at low arousal-positive affect such as feeling tranquil and at peace, the chill feelings that are more valued by introverts. And so, you have this kind of culture-personality mismatch, which can lead introverts to feeling badly about themselves. In Eastern cultures, it can be the opposite, where extroverts are seen as a little weird or really out there. And there’s a puzzlement about this so-called American (extrovert) personality. So yes, I think there is some balance that is slowly being introduced as we look toward and value more contemplative practice in our society.
LR: Since we are this doing-connecting-running-accomplishing-externalizing type of culture, what misconceptions do clinicians need to know surrounding introversion and the introvert, such as the introvert and the schizoid personality are similar?
LH: I’m sure you were attuned to this when the DSM-5 was in development, but there was a proposal on the table to include the term “introversion” in a number of diagnostic categories as an indicator, as a symptom. But there was a loud outcry to that because what really was being referred to in the DSM was a kind of disengagement, and the problem with seeing introversion as disengagement is that it’s actually just the opposite. A healthy introvert may be quiet in a conversation, although not all introverts are disengaged. There is a continuum. Oftentimes, the reason why introverts are quiet is because we ARE engaged, because we’re processing, because we’re trying to make sense of what the other person is saying rather than the opposite, which is disengagement. We may put on good poker faces so that it seems that we’re kind of schizoid or not there. And sometimes introverts do need to make the point of narrating our process. Saying “Yeah, I’m thinking about this, just give me a second.”

so this idea that introversion is a pathological indicator is extremely problematic
So this idea that introversion is a pathological indicator is extremely problematic. I think most people who study introversion and extroversion see them as neutral categories and that there can be problems associated with either. If we look at mental health disorders, some of the impulse control disorders like substance use are more prevalent in extroverts, whereas for introverts, the internalizing disorders like depression and anxiety can be more prevalent.
LR: I am reminded of the Achenbach scales, which suggest that the externalizing disorders are more typically relegated to men and the internalizing disorders, like depression and anxiety, are more common among women. So, I wonder if there is a gender line that also contributes to the introversion/extroversion schism?
LH:
women have a harder time getting permission to be introverted
The gender differences aren’t as great as you might think. While I don’t have those figures right in front of me, one thing that’s notable is that women have a harder time getting permission to be introverted. We tend to think of the man as the strong, silent type, whereas a woman might just be considered the B-word or a snob if she’s not engaged. We have a lot of expectations on women to be the social kind of glue in our society. I think actually men are a little bit more prevalent in terms of the numbers, but they are not that different.
LR: I think I might have jumped ahead of myself. Can we go back and discuss other misconceptions around introversion?
LH: So, I think one is that there’s some kind of pathological disengagement. Another one is that introverts are shy, which is probably the most common misconception. While introverts can indeed be shy, so too can extroverts. The way that introversion is classically understood is that we are internally oriented, and our social way of engaging may be a bit different. We like a little more space in our interactions. We probably like fewer people. But all of that comes back to the level of stimulation. And I think of Hans Eysenck's level of cortical arousal and the idea that the sweet spot for everyone is in the middle, where we’re not too stimulated and we’re not bored. But extroverts tend to get cortically bored. They tend to crave more stimulation, so they’re trying to move in the direction of more stimulation to get to their middle, whereas introverts are trying to tone things down more to get to their middle.

So, for example, I’m at a party and I’m with a shy person. I, being pretty socially introverted, might be hanging on the sidelines because I kind of like being there. And there’s probably somebody there who’s a little quieter who I might want to talk to. I might really enjoy observing or just taking a break. A shy extrovert standing next to me might really, really want to be in there and just doesn’t know how. There might be a lot of self-consciousness and that kind of thing. Now again, these variables can overlap, but I think it’s much more helpful to see them as separate.
LR: This may be the pushy extroversive side of me, Laurie, but can you think of any others before we move?
LH:
there’s even a misconception or assumption that introverts really don’t have a personality—you know, that they’re kind of bland
Another one is that introverts are snobs. And this again might be due to the poker face. In the U.S., we love smile emojis, and we expect this very exuberant, outward-oriented evidence that a person is engaged, or present, or responsive. And if we don’t get that, the readiness is to assume that that person maybe doesn’t like me or is non-approving and stuck up. There’s even a misconception or assumption that introverts really don’t have a personality—you know, that they’re kind of bland. But if you just took a peek inside the laboratory, you’d find otherwise.
LR: I don’t know if this is a misconception, but there’s been a little bit of buzz in the literature about the overlap in some ways between introversion and autism. Is that a dangerous connection to make clinically?
LH: I know there has been talk that introversion is like [what used to be called] Asperger’s. I think if it helps us understand the autism spectrum in a different way, it may be useful. But I don’t know that it is the case and honestly, I haven’t gone that direction myself because we’re trying to link something up that may not be helpful and could be quite the opposite.

I’m all for the direction of us de-pathologizing most things, right? I think there is agreement around communication difficulties associated with autism spectrum disorders and there may also be some for some introverts. There may be some ways in which the spectrum would explain some aspects of their behavior.

LR: I can see what you’re saying in terms of this societal tendency to pathologize anything that’s considered different. We just tend to “other” the hell out of each other, so clinicians need to be very wary of looking for or building connections between introversion and pathology or problematic issues based upon misconceptions.

Introverts and COVID

LR: How did introverts fare during the isolation and social distancing of the COVID pandemic—heaven or hell?
LH: In fact, I was just looking at some recent findings on that, and introverts did for the most part thrive, although there certainly are variations. While extroverts had a hard time, with reported deterioration in their mental health, there were certain challenges that isolation created for introverts. Surprisingly, there was a time in history where all of a sudden, introverts were being asked, “How do you do this? How do you manage being alone? How do you manage this?” So, if nothing else, I think there was a sense that what we have is valued and has survival value—because we did. We all were safer because people stayed in their zones because they were able to socially distance themselves and to spend more time alone.
LR:
so, during this time of forced isolation, those who have historically been quite fine with solitary and internal lives became the experts in teaching the rest of society
So, during this time of forced isolation, those who have historically been quite fine with solitary and internal lives became the experts in teaching the rest of society. You mentioned the word “thrive,” and that introverts were called upon for their expertise.
LH: I can use myself as an example. I am still mostly working from home, where I teach and work with a lot of students. In my traditional face-to-face classrooms, we have an open office plan, which does not necessarily work well at all for having conversations and is overstimulating for introverts. But what is paradoxically true for me and others of my colleagues is that from home, I now engage better because I can have a conversation on-screen with a student or a colleague from the quiet of my home office. I don’t have to worry about privacy or having to find a special room because of that open floor plan. From home, I can be in a place that reflects me—we might even talk about my paintings that are sitting behind me or the view outside the student’s window, which might be snow, while I’m in Barbados. We get to connect in a more personal way because we have this home-to-home kind of connection. So I have actually found that this forced isolation has enhanced my relationships, because they have become a little more contained and kind of safe in cyberspace.
LR: Is safety a concern for introverts? And as I even ask the question, I wonder if some clinicians out there are wondering if this need for safety suggests some kind of earlier trauma.
LH:
introverts tend to be more guardians of privacy
What I mean by safety is the freedom from bombardment and overstimulation, but it can also mean the protection of privacy. Introverts tend to be more guardians of privacy, both for themselves and in relationships.
LR: Prior to COVID, I had a strict closed-door policy for that very reason, while other colleagues whose doors were always open seemed to spend far more time gabbing than working. Did you find any other differences in the ways that introverts and extroverts fared during the pandemic?
LH: One thing I know from academia is that there’s evidence that everybody’s working more since we’ve gone online. Introducing new platforms and having a lot of Zoom meetings can definitely result in social fatigue when you’re constantly on screen.

the introverts I know who have struggled the most are the ones who have extroverted family members at home
But the introverts I know who have struggled the most are the ones who have extroverted family members at home, or kids that they are locked in with and from whom they normally get a break from. I know I’ve missed some of my introvert haunts, like the coffee shop I go to work and the movie theater. I like places in the world where I can be quiet and where I can view, you know, kind of be a flâneur (I wish we had an English word equivalent). I like the idea of the passionate observer who is out and about, but not engaged in a direct way—I do get energized by that. So, I think there definitely are ways in which introverts have missed out. And certainly, we have close relationships, so it’s been very hard to be separated from family and friends, because introverts are not necessarily loners. I’ve talked to introverts who have grieved a loved one who they described as their “comfortable person.” For introverts, it’s hard work to do small talk, so we rely more on our comfortable people.

LR: And I would imagine that older people who have historically been accustomed to face-to-face contact don’t find the same level of comfort on the screen.

In Therapy

LR: I don’t imagine that people come to therapy because they are suffering from introversion. And while I was initially going to begin by asking about the challenges that introverts bring to therapy, I’d like instead to ask how therapy can tap into the strengths and resources that introverts possess?
LH:
analysis was a space where I could sort out the fact that I was at odds with the way my lifestyle was set up and how it wasn’t working for me
The first thing that came to mind when you said, “Introverts aren’t necessarily going to come in and say I’m suffering from introversion,” was that they might in some way say, “I’m suffering from society,” which is what was going on for me when I went through psychoanalysis. I talk about it in my book and how it really was the starting point for the book and for a lot of healing for me. Analysis was a space where I could sort out the fact that I was at odds with the way my lifestyle was set up and how it wasn’t working for me. It was important to finally put a name to it—that I was an introvert. I realized that I needed things that my life wasn’t providing, so I started to make some radical changes in my life.

So in therapy, you might have people saying things like they are getting hassled at work because they’re not outgoing enough, or who feel bad about themselves because they are at odds with society. It can be very, very helpful for clients to be able to put a name to it. I can point to so many people who have talked about that transformative moment when they said, “Ah, I’m an introvert. That’s why. Okay.” But, I think it typically depends on how that’s delivered.

That’s the beauty of a Myers-Briggs Type indicator, although some have criticized its psychometric properties. It really does describe each personality type in a strengths-oriented way, so people then can see themselves mirrored in that positive way. Instead of thinking that they are the problem that needs to be fixed, they have permission instead to engage in their lives in a way that works better for them.
LR: Do you ever feel compelled to point out to a client that they are introverted, or is that not always necessary?
LH: I would, and it may not even be that the word “introversion” is necessary. But I think it does help because there are a lot of characteristics that come with somebody who’s an internal processor. They might not think on their feet so well or they need space in conversations. If they have a spouse that always wants to do things or who always wants to talk, the introvert may wonder, “Why don’t I love my spouse or my partner because I don’t want to talk or do things all the time, and sometimes I want space for myself?” I might tell them, “Well, it sounds like you’re an introvert,” and they might say, “Oh, what’s that?” While most people know, I’m surprised that some people haven’t or don’t really reflect on being an introvert. I didn’t, and I’m a psychologist who didn’t really reflect on what that meant about me until well into my practice years.
LR: Do you find that it’s liberating for these clients once you tell them or suggest to them that they are introverted?
LH:
I get letters from readers all the time that say, “All I needed to know is that there really isn’t anything wrong with me, and there are other people like me.”
It’s tremendously liberating. I get letters from readers all the time that say, “All I needed to know is that there really isn’t anything wrong with me, and there are other people like me.” And there are people in our society who believe that the introvert is the rare person, kind of sitting down in the basement avoiding people, when in any given room introverts make up about half of the people in that room. So I think that knowing does shift a person’s thinking. They may finally understand, “That’s why I prefer to send an email than speaking my thoughts,” or “That might be why, after a meeting, I really feel like I need a break to think through what happened and write down some notes.” We get so much mirroring of what it means to be an extrovert, but don’t get that much about what it means to be an introvert.
LR: Would you necessarily treat a depressed, anxious or perhaps substance-abusing introvert differently than you would treat a non-introvert with similar symptomatology?
LH: I think a lot of the treatments apply well to both. But I think that for introverts, part of our treatment is to help them align their lives with what gives them joy, even though we need to be very careful about ascribing to them what we think that would be. That would be like the parent saying to the child, “You need to go out more to be with your friends,” when maybe that child simply relishes reading a book and living in this wonderful imaginative space. The parent would end up trying to pull that child out of that comfortable and happy place and telling them what their definition of happiness is. Similarly, we have to be very careful as therapists to not impose what we think the introvert’s happiness should be.
LR: I could see an overzealous introverted therapist trying to impose their expectations or beliefs on a client; sort of introversion-based countertransference?
LH:
introverts tend to be quite versatile because we bend and have to be psychologically bilingual, which is actually a strength
If the therapist had some kind of mission, that could definitely be a trap, because we do know that introverts can gain a good feeling through social engagement. Even acting like an extrovert can give you a lift. I think the difference with introverts is that it can be helpful for them to know about their introversion without feeling like they have to change who they are. Introverts tend to be quite versatile because we bend and have to be psychologically bilingual, which is actually a strength. It’s easier for introverts to act like extroverts in general than it is for extroverts to act like introverts. We saw this with COVID. It was not easy for those extroverts to flex in the introverted direction, while introverts have had to do it all their lives. Through my book and my activism, I have wanted to simply reinforce the idea that introversion is a viable option. That’s not to say that introverts have to be introverted all the time or that they won’t benefit, but the problem is that many haven’t gotten permission to be who they are in the first place. So, if you’re not who you are in the first place, how do you transcend that?
LR: Are there any other challenges or issues that introverts are more likely to bring to therapy?
LH:
maybe we introverts are entitled to a little bit of that juice that the extroverts are drinking
I think introverts, for better and for worse, can be self-scrutinizers. We are reflective. We think about our conversations. We reflect on events. And so, that may give us a more realistic view of things, and it also can induce anxiety and depression. I think this is where mindfulness techniques are so helpful—we can do that reflection without getting so attached to those thoughts and, as a result, can come back to the present. And at times, we can deliberately seek those joyful experiences and do what extroverts do. Maybe we introverts are entitled to a little bit of that juice that the extroverts are drinking.
LR: In addition to mindfulness, are there particular modalities of therapy that introverts might be more drawn to?
LH:
a very extroverted therapist who really wants a back-and-forth kind of dialogue may lose an introverted client
As an introvert myself, I always gravitated toward the psychodynamic psychotherapies in part because they provide so much space for the internal life. As number nine in a family of ten who was constantly overstimulated, I relished the luxury of having a person listen to me in a place where I got to lay back on the couch and just let my mind take up the whole room. In terms of space, that was a wonderful thing.

Not all introverts would necessarily like that. Some introverts do actually appreciate some structure or inquisitiveness from a therapist. I think that a general rule is that when working therapeutically with an introvert, there needs to be a certain level of patience to let the client consult with their inner laboratory and find out what they’re thinking. A very extroverted therapist who really wants a back-and-forth kind of dialogue may lose an introverted client.
LR: What about the opposite situation in which an introverted therapist has a very extroverted, performative, gregarious, energetic, over-stimulating client?
LH: I’ve actually had to contend with that because for me and a lot of introverts, interrupting is taboo. But some extroverts expect to be interrupted. They kind of like just letting go and knowing that you’re going to get your word in whether you want or not. Some extroverts love talking to introverts because the introvert gives the full space. But the introverted therapist may also have to be more active than they prefer with that type of client.
LR: I closed my physical practice a few years ago. It was so highly personalized, and some might argue overstimulating. If you were to be a consultant for designing therapy spaces for introverts, what tips might you offer?
LH: I love that question, because I think it’s a neglected one. One thing is that introverts are already likely coming into your office over-stimulated. If you have bright lights and a lot of clutter in your office, you’re probably not going to have somebody who’s going to be very able to settle into the space. I am very attentive to lighting so have a softly lit space, and because some introverts may not always want to make eye contact because they have to think and because sometimes our eyes will distract them, I do have some things that allow the patient or client to look away from me. They want to be oriented towards you. Introverts tend to be very absorbent of what’s going on around them. And so, they almost need to close themselves off. So, not facing the chair directly at them is helpful—kind of fanning them out so that the client can look off and go inside instead of always looking at you but can also easily enough look over at you. That kind of thing can really make an introvert feel more comfortable and open in this space.
LR: Maybe we can go into the office setup-for-introverts feng shui business.
LH: Love it.

Introverts at Home

LR: Do introverted parents bring unique challenges to therapy?
LH:
parents don’t often give permission and encouragement to help their child develop solitude skills
I do think parents feel a lot of pressure, from the whole playdate revolution, to having the most fun birthday party. I remember, and say this with a little bit of shame, but I was always relieved after Halloween was done because there was this pressure to create the best costume. One thing that I always note is that parents feel such a responsibility to help their child develop social skills, and certainly that is an important coping mechanism. But parents don’t often give permission and encouragement to help their child develop solitude skills. We can’t always entertain them. And if we are, we are developing a child who doesn’t have much resilience, because the reality is, we’re going to be alone for a good part of our lives. So, I think that it is important to help both introverted and extroverted parents foster that quiet space for their child(ren).

I remember the psychotherapy theorist, I think it was Fred Pine, who talked about the importance of quiet pleasures. Winnicott also talked about that. I like the idea that the child and you can be doing parallel things in this quiet space, and that child internalizes the ability to be alone, because they learn that they can be alone together. They learn that there is a sense of somebody who can tolerate their aloneness, which I think is such a beautiful but rare thing in parenting. That we can just do nothing together?

I was just watching the movie Christopher Robin. I love the way that Christopher Robin and Pooh talk about doing nothing because when you do nothing, something happens. I love when somebody asks me what I’m doing, and I say nothing, and then I do it. It is the idea of the generative, the fertile void. The way that boredom is a precursor to creativity. So I always ask, are we allowing kids boredom? If parents took some pressure off themselves to stop entertaining kids, kids might paradoxically end up being more self-entertained.
LR: I just wrote the introduction to a friend’s book on nature-based play therapy, and as we chat, Richard Louv’s work on the importance of nature in child development rings so loudly in my ears. I think kids (and adults) need to be in nature where there is quiet, and there is awe, and there is, like you said, an external space where they can be internal.
LH: Yes. I find for myself that having an evening walk when things are quiet is when I do feel that the laboratory is wide and vast, and I don’t have to tuck it away.
LR: Moving from parenting to relationships, what challenges have you found working with couples who are mismatched temperamentally?
LH:
an introvert/extrovert couple are going to have more conflict if they are going to be close, because they need to negotiate
I think there are a lot of introvert/extrovert couples that do quite well. But knowing from experience, an introvert/extrovert couple are going to have more conflict if they are going to be close, because they need to negotiate. So, if the extrovert wants to go out and be with friends, how often will the introvert be willing to do that? The introvert may indeed want to go to a movie or just have a quiet dinner or just stay at home and read together, which is a legitimate date, in my opinion.

There can be real advantages to that, because we might appreciate at times being pulled out of ourselves. Or pulled in, pulled back from ourselves. And so a couple that represents both those functions can become flexible in that way. What I notice is that there may be more of an ease in introvert/introvert couples. But that may also come with a lesser growth curve. The other thing can happen, though, is like with systems therapy, where one plays more of the function of introvert or extrovert. So, you have all different variations on the theme. But I think that naming this process becomes important in clinical work with couples, especially if their temperaments put them at odds. It took my husband and I twenty-five years and the writing of my book to discover that when I’m quiet, I’m not telling him he needs to explain things more.
LR: Or that you’re not withholding something from him or pushing him away.
LH: Instead, that he has been understood, and that I’m not telling him that I am disengaged. I’m actually thinking about what he says. So now when I’m quiet, he’ll say, “Oh, you’re thinking about it, right?” And I’m like, yes.
LR: So, your book in part was a marriage survival guide for yourself?
LH: Yeah, it’s very interesting to me that after writing the book, I found applications in my own life that I hadn’t yet discovered.
LR: Well, you probably were aware of those, but not consciously because you’re an introvert. They were bubbling up in some beaker deep in the back of your laboratory.
LH: There you go.
LR: As we come to an end, Laurie, what would you leave those clinicians out there who haven’t yet given too much thought to this whole introversion/extroversion area with?
LH: I think that we all benefit from having a richer world. And we have a richer world when we can embrace the internal and the external. I think too often we don’t, and we aren’t curious enough, or wait long enough to find out. I find in teaching interviewing skills to medical students that if they wait just a little bit longer, they’re going to find the story, the punchline, the meaning that, if they had spoken two seconds sooner, would have been missed. So keep in mind that the world is vast and wonderful out there. But it’s also vast and wonderful in there.
LR: If there are any questions that I wasn’t clear on, can I reach out to you after we finish today?
LH: Absolutely, because as an introvert, sometimes things get clearer later on.


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Laurie Helgoe Laurie Helgoe, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, educator, and author, with a special interest in the relationship between personality and culture. She serves as an Associate Professor of Behavioral Sciences at the Ross University School of Medicine and is author of the critically acclaimed book, Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength, which is published in seven languages. Dr. Helgoe advocates for the widespread recognition that introversion is a natural disposition that, when respected, permits individuals to flourish creatively, work productively, and form enduring and meaningful relationships.

Dr. Helgoe’s newest book, Fragile Bully: Understanding Our Destructive Affair with Narcissism in the Age of Trump, explores the relationship between narcissism and American political and interpersonal discourse. She authors a blog for Psychology Today entitled Introvert Power: Food for the Inner Life and connects with readers through the Introvert Power and Fragile Bully pages on Facebook. Dr. Helgoe lives and works on the island of Barbados, where she enjoys her pastime as a professional oil painter (you may view her creations at her online gallery and visit her website.
Lawrence Rubin Lawrence 'Larry' Rubin, PhD, LMHC, ABPP, RPT-S is a Florida-based Psychologist, Mental Health Counselor and Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor, who directs the Counseling programs at St. Thomas University and is on the clinical faculty of Capella University. He specializes in the assessment and treatment of children, teens, and their families. Larry is on the editorial board of the International Journal of Play and has published several popular books including Handbook of Medical Play Therapy and Child Life: Interventions in Clinical and Medical Settings, Diagnosis and Treatment Planning Skills: A Popular Culture Casebook Approach, and Using Superheroes and Villains in Counseling and Play Therapy: A Guide for Mental Health Professionals.

CE credits: 1

Learning Objectives:

  • describe the core characteristics of the introverted personality
  • explain the experience of introverts in an extrovert-oriented culture
  • discuss the therapeutic issues related to working with introverts

Articles are not approved by Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) for CE. See complete list of CE approvals here