The psychotherapist you’ve seen everywhere on TV talks about marrying a shrink, anchors who need therapy, one fateful Grateful Dead concert, and her new passion project.
Psychotherapist Dr. Robi Ludwig is one busy woman. One look at her facebook page and you wonder if she ever goes to sleep. Bouncing from one TV apperance to the next, tackling a full day of patients, and now, introducing a new jewelry line. I got her to stop everything for a few minutes (that wasn’t easy!) and tell me how she keeps it all comes together.
I’m very lucky, Robi, I’ve gotten to work with you behind the scenes as a television producer and onscreen when we’ve paired up to talk about social trends and relationships… I have very good reason to believe that there is not a single TV show that you haven’t appeared on. If you had to guess, now many different shows have you been on?
Since I started this part of my career, I would guesstimate about 20 shows; I’m not so fabulous with numbers. Some of those shows have faded away, don’t exist anymore! That’s the nature of the business.
Which one was your first? Was it an instant fit or were you terrified?
The first TV show I did was “Good Day New York,” it was an interview about how to get in touch with your dreams (meaning goals). I was interviewed by celebrity reporter Tony Potts, who was a local reporter at the time. And yeah, I was quite nervous. I wanted to come off as an expert, to sound smart, confident and competent.
I ‘m sure you were! But there ‘s kind of a unique twist to the story, right?
I realized when I sent in a resume tape to the local fox 5 news, to get a job as a local reporter and got rejected almost as fast as I sent off the tape, only to get a call for an interview at that very same station, a few days later, (for my first live interview) I realized I was going into a very crazy business where there were no rules and even less predictability. This is a reality that is as true for me today as it was for me on the very first day I started on this TV journey.
Yeah, that TV life is nuts. I think that’s what you’re trying to say. But yours has been an upward trajectory ever since!
When I started to pursue this type of reporting, it didn’t exist at the time, and was groundbreaking in a sense. It required a lot of persistence and creativity on my part, and never giving up.
Was there ever one show that you were surprised to be on? One where you were saying to yourself “I can’t believe I’m here” and perhaps another where you thought “this is one crazy show” but sure, I’ll play along!
Larry King was a very exciting moment for me. When I arrived on set, I truly felt I had arrived. We discussed the Scott Peterson case. This was an early catalyst of sorts for the book I wrote, “Till Death Do Us Part: Love, Marriage, and the Mind of the Killer Spouse.”
I am tempted to ask you if he hit on you he does love blondes, but I ‘ll resist! Okay what about one of your more surreal TV experiences…
The show I felt was “wow, this is a little out there!” was when I was on Ricki Lake (1993-2004). She was always so much smarter than her show. She was very analytically aware and the show itself was not, and she knew it; but that’s what it was. The show was relationship-driven to a bit of an extreme.
“I have occasionally thought that some hosts have needed treatment, and some of these hosts have even admitted they could benefit from therapy”
Have you ever thought that a host or anchor could use some therapy?
I have occasionally thought that some hosts have needed treatment, and some of these hosts have even admitted they could benefit from therapy. Having said that, I think most people can benefit from treatment. Those who need it and refuse to get it generally have the most “issues.”
That is a very polite response, Robi. I knew you wouldn ‘t name names but I ‘m hoping you ‘ll whisper one in my ear…but I ‘m guessing even that ‘s no use. What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about your TV life…
One of things people don’t know is that TV can be a very social profession. I have nice relationships and friendships I developed with other TV therapists and expert commentators. Viewers tend to see us as more isolated, because they see us one at a time.
Yes, I have seen all the photos of you on your facebook page! You are a psychotherapist slash lady about town!!!
One of the most common questions is how much I get paid. My response is that it varies, depending on what the contract is. I’m always a little struck, taken aback when asked this!! I mean, this is a question I would never ask anyone about! That said, I do understand that people are curious and I understand that some individuals are inclined to be direct.
You’re helping New Yorkers with their personal problems (that sounds ominous!) – not just onscreen, but also off – you still have a practice, don’t you? How do you balance all that?
I have 19 years in private practice. The balance first comes from wanting to fulfill my life, accepting the responsibility that fulfilling my goals necessitates putting myself out there — taking care of my patients in my practice, taking care of my TV career, which educates people, taking care of fulfilling my long-held desire to create my jewelry line. And — also, of course, most important, taking care of my family and home life. Where there is a will, there is a way! Through the years, I have learned, through discipline and passion, to make it all work. And yes, I do find time to take care of myself. I had learned through the years to figure out how to balance it all — and it keeps me happy. Each aspect synergizes with the other. Some days are better than others, but that is true for everyone.
Again, I have to go back to your Facebook page people literally put some of their most personal problems on your WALL. Your WALL, for God’s sake! Do you think they’re doing it on purpose or are they unaware of the whole facebook way of doing things?
For the most part, my FB friends don’t reveal very personal information on my wall. It does happen occasionally, and I’m ok with that. People see me as a therapist and quite often this leads to them feeling comfortable asking me some very personal questions. If someone wants therapy or treatment, I don’t do this via email or my FB wall, but will forward them to my office manager, who will let them know how my consultations/sessions work. I feel that’s the most ethical way to handle these types of situations.
How do you keep from being the world’s therapist?
I think the best way to not be a therapist 24/7 is to set boundaries. When a therapist gets trained, this is part of what he or she learns how to do. It’s not uncommon for young therapists to get sucked in and want to save the world — all of the time. But you quickly learn it’s not possible, not realistic and will quickly lead to burn out. The best way to stay an effective therapist is to be able to separate your work life from your personal life. Having said that, once you’re trained as a therapist, you do see the world from a very distinct perspective, but that’s a good thing.
Not only are you a psychotherapist. but you somehow have managed to branch out into jewelry design. But you’re not just making a necklace or two you’ve gone big time already and are selling them on ShopNBC! How on earth did you make something this huge happen??
I’ve been obsessed with jewelry for a very long time. I remember going to a Grateful Dead concert and stopping by one of the booths to design a necklace. Who does that at a concert? Geez!!! So I’ve been designing my own jewelry and collecting jewelry for a long time now. Because I love doing TV and shopping channels are a great way to reach a large group of people, I thought combining the two mediums I love (TV and Jewelry), would be a great way to go. I just asked a lot of questions and one contact led to another, and that’s how I ended up at ShopNBC.
“I remember going to a Grateful Dead concert and stopping by one of the booths to design a necklace. Who does that at a concert?”
The whole Grateful Dead part of this story could take this interview into a whole other direction. But really from the Grateful Dead to a ‘talking head ‘! So you loved jewelry and just kind of made it happen Is there a motivational message to be gotten from that story? Kind of a ‘keep at it don’t take no for an answer’ thing?
I think the motivational message here is to follow what you love doing and find a way to make it all work together. Listen, it’s not always easy and there are times when I wonder why I’ve chosen such a challenging profession. But in some ways, I had no choice. I felt unbelievably driven and compelled to pursue this path that I’ve carved out for myself. It’s important to follow the path that you know is meant for you to follow. It’s the only way to live a rewarding and fulfilling life.
Tell me about the line – what inspires it – explain the connection between you and the jewelry.
The line was inspired by some of the pieces in my personal collection. They have a somewhat modern, vintage, worldly feel. I know how it feels to put on a fabulous piece of jewelry. It can make your day. As a therapist, I wanted lots of different options for people to feel good about themselves in life. Not everyone is going to want to go to therapy, but everyone wants to feel good about themselves. So, my line was a way to hopefully offer that. The universal symbols represent, good luck, protection and success. They are little reminders to go out and live the life you want and were always meant to live.
I’ve noticed you do love to play with fashion and style when you’re on television outside of your own personal line – what’s the most high end and low end piece of jewelry you love to wear?
I do love fashion. Fashion is fun and it’s a great way to make both yourself and others feel good. My favorite low-end pieces of jewelry are some costume vintage pieces I’ve collected over the years and hoop earrings that I got downtown. My favorite high-end pieces that I love to wear are my wedding rings and some other pieces I’ve picked up over the years while traveling.
Jewelry seems to take a deep meaning with women. Some pieces are passed on for generations – why do you think it creates such an emotional connection? Why jewelry?
Some people believe the wearer of a piece of jewelry will leave his or her imprint and personality on the piece. Jewelry can become a person’s signature. It’s a link with memories and history. It can link us to and with the person who gives it to us. That’s what makes jewelry so special, it can connect us with the people we love, to a special moment, or help us connect to an important message or idea. That’s quite a lot, don’t you think? These are just some of the reasons why I love jewelry so much!
Okay – so now we’ve uncovered your hidden talent for design any other hidden talents I should be aware of tell me something that no one knows – or simply hasn’t asked you – about you?
Well I can tell you that my hidden talents don’t include singing or cooking. I wish they did! Hmmmm….what does no one know about me? I love taking photos! I’d love to perhaps have a vintage clothing line one day? Who knows……..the future is filled with lots of artistic possibilities! I promise to keep you in the loop (wink-wink!).
You help people with relationships – now I may be on shaky territory here, and I know that you’re happily married – but first you have to tell me – have you ever dated another psychotherapist back during your single days? I feel like that would be an analytical nightmare! The arguments would take hours with all the reflective listening and point by point acknowledgement of the other’s feelings.
When I was single, yes I did date someone in the field. A psychiatrist. I also married a psychiatrist, so clearly I am drawn to people in my field. Are you more likely to get analyzed if you date someone in the field, yeah…..you probably are, but what’s great about dating a fellow shrink is they have a deeper understanding of the world around them than most, and that’s pretty sexy — at least I think so.
Okay, I ‘m glad you said shrink because I was going to ask you if that made you crazy. But I wanna get back to the Grateful Dead girl ‘s former dating life! Have you ever dated someone and early on determined that this guy was a big heaping cup of crazy?
I’m sure I’ve dated my share of loonies in the past. Sometimes I realized it early on and sometimes not that fast. Love can be blinding, even for therapists. Plus, crazy can be fun sometimes. Don’t you think?! Maybe that’s just me!
Crazy is fun until just before the restraining order! Okay – give us one thing that most of us don’t know we do that we should STOP doing. What do a lot of people do that end up killing a relationship, friendship, or simply make us look insecure or just ridiculous?
The one thing people do that really destroys their relationships is to expect too much from their partners and to take each other for granted. Both tendencies are huge relationship killers.
Have you been reading my diary?!? Where were you when I was in college?!! But I digress. I ‘m going out on a limb here and saying that it would NOT be asking too much to check out your jewelry line, which I encourage everyone to do! What woman doesn ‘t like a little bling as a surprise gift! (Even to herself!) Thank you Robi! I ‘m looking forward to your next project! When you put out a dance single and need a backup singer, I will be ready.
Robi’s ShopNBC segment airs live JAN 20 at 3pm ET and is available online everyday at ShopNBC.com