Dr. Kalanit Ben-Ari is dedicated and passionate about helping couples strengthen their connection and re-fire the love in their relationships.
Kalanit has worked as a couple’s therapist and parental advisor for the past 20 years and have a private clinic in Hampstead, London. Following her love of writing, she’s published two books, one for parents titled, Small Steps to Great Parenting which is an Amazon Bestseller, and one for children The Lost Book.
The Lost Book tells the story of 9 year old Lev who turns a frustrating event (mum says “no”) into a creative family adventure. Lev is known for her love of books. When she forgets the book she was reading at school, she does all in her power to convince mum to return to school and collect it so that she can continue reading. Things do not turn out the way Lev wants, but then she has an idea… where all the family is going to join her on a memorable adventure in imagination. You will join them too. This charming and highly original tale is aimed at 5-9 years old. The story contains important messages for children such as (1) There are always other options and solutions (even if it doesn’t feel like that sometimes), (2) “No” is also an answer, and (3) children can turn frustration into creativity. Moreover, the story contains tips and ideas that are simple, practical and yet vital for parents such as (1) how to communicate in a healthy way with saying “no” to children’s requests, (2) how to employ the main idea of the book- stopping at the dilemma- to encourage children to read and (3) how to encourages children’s creativity, imagination, and a love for books. You will not believe how much of a positive transformation you can create by changing the way you experience reading with your child.
Dr. Kalanit Ben-Ari is an advanced Couples and family therapist, trainer, international speaker, and author. She is frequently featured in media publications such as: Metro, Stylist, Balance offering extensive advice on couples, relationships, and parenting.
In her own personal life, she’s married to Adi and they have two wonderful daughters!
Professionally, Kalanit gained a BA and an MA in Social Work, specialising in Clinical Child Development, at the University of Haifa, Israel. She also gained a Doctorate in Psychology at the Institute for the Study of Children, Families and Social Issues, Birkbeck, University of London. Her main research area was the influence of psychological processes and childhood experiences on adult romantic relationships.
It’s a joy to interview Dr Kalanit Ben-Ari here on the blog.
Describe a typical day for you?
I’m not an early morning person and I love my sleep. I start the day with a family breakfast (I need my coffee!) then work. I start with emails, catch-up (clients, media requests, and so on) and then sessions with couples – these days over Zoom – or training other therapists. I love what I do so time flies by. Then, I spend time with the family, doing all the usual stuff; cooking (which is my therapy space), playing, reading, talking, and giving attention to the children. During the holidays we love watching a family programme together. In the evening I try to clear my inbox/to-do list, go for a walk with my husband and dog which gives us both a chance to catch-up on the day, share, and connect. I’ll go to sleep after reading. Even after a long day, I’ll make sure I’ve read a few pages before going to sleep.
What do you feel are your greatest achievements?
Right now, it’s being a mother for a teenager! And all the patience that comes with that… But jokes aside, despite growing up in a dysfunctional family, my husband and I created/developed a strong, stable, and healthy family unit. Professionally, I’m proud of my two published books- one for parents Small Steps to Great Parenting: An Essential Guide for Busy Families, and one for young readers – the Lost Book. I’m also proud that during July I trained more than 800 therapists (!) and that I am an international speaker. I’m proud to be the Chair of Imago Relationship Therapy UK since 2013 and to lead an amazing group of therapists in their journey. Another great source of achievements is when friends of clients, or adult children of previous clients, reach-out to me saying they saw the positive change and transformation therapy created for their friends/parents and that they want to improve their relationship too.
What’s in your handbag/ satchel?
I don’t like handbags… I think I’m a rare woman in that sense. I leave home with my phone and keys in my hand or pocket, and if I am with my husband it will end up in his pocket!
What are your ambitions in life?
To transform and inspire as many relationships as I can. I believe that when a relationship between a parent’s flourish and thrive, the children will thrive as well. My interventions, if by direct contact with clients via therapy and my online courses, or therapists I train, not only affect the quality of the relationship in the present but also have waves of ripples effect on the next generations.
What do you wish you’d known at the start of your career you now know?
It’s difficult to explain, but generally not to make decisions from fear, but from an abundance and joyful state of mind. Also, to listen to my intuition and say ‘no’ to things that don’t feel right and say ‘yes’ to the direction I want to go. I want to surround myself with people I admire and respect. And lastly, I wish I’d known that showing vulnerability is a strength to empower others.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
Mother to two teenagers! But with more time for myself and my relationship with my husband. I see myself doing what I do now- empowering couples and parents to connect from their essences and transform and grow their relationships – just on a bigger scale. Leading larger workshops for couples, training therapists all over the world, and offering many forms or learning and experiencing for growth and transformation online and in person. I am also working on a programme for therapists, which in 5 years I hope will be a source of inspiration and support for thousands of therapists.
What advice would you give a budding (therapist)?
To let go of your attachment to the result of the therapy, trust yourself and your clients and work with the present and with what is. Move away from judgment to develop an atmosphere of safety, curiosity, and growth. Not to take yourself too seriously. There’s no such thing as a ‘difficult couple’. There’re couples difficult for you. So, keep learning and developing and know your own ‘shadow’ well, only then you will be able to lead your clients in a meaningful way. Learn and learn and learn, grow beyond your limitations, and comfort zone, but with clients forget all of it and be yourself, at your essence as a human being. And come be trained as an Imago Relationship therapist with me!
What advice would you give to a new parent?
Ask for what you want in most specific ways (rather than complaining about what you do not have or get). Remember that you are AMAZING! and with inner wisdom and intuition. Surround yourself with supportive people. Parenting is challenging enough as is, you do not need an extra voice of criticism (in addition to your inner voice). Know that you are wonderful, and all will be OK. Grow your self-compassion, present, and patience. Remain yourself what you are doing well! Learn to say ‘no’ where necessary and ask for help as often as needed. And last but not least, have fun with your partner! Invest in your relationship. Do not forget that they miss you and the more fun and connection you have together the better parents you are.
Finally, happiness is…
Wow! Many, many things! All the small (but big) moments of life, walking hand-in-hand with my children to school (or these days to the park), sharing a joke, sharing a connected moment that widens the heart and soul. Happiness is when I’m completely and utterly present in the moment. Happiness is when I hear my girls giggling together when the house is a mess when we share enjoyment from a meal, our dog… Happiness is our good health! And the privilege of being trusted to be part of so many people’s journey in life.