A local psychotherapist has successfully started a new chapter in her career, as an author.
Shelli Chosak, Ph.D., a Carmel Valley resident, has already received several accolades for her first book, “Your Living Legacy: How Your Parenting Style Shapes the Future for You and Your Child,” which provides relationship insight and solutions. The honors include first place (“Family & Relationships”), third place (“Self Help”) and Reader’s Favorite Award finalist in the 2016 CIPA EVVY Book Awards. Recently, Chosak was notified that she is also a finalist in the “Published Self Help/Psychology” category for the San Diego Book Awards. The winners will be announced June 10.
“I wrote ‘Your Living Legacy’ to empower parents by increasing their self-awareness and help them gain confidence in raising emotionally healthy and successful children,” said Chosak, who has specialized in family relationships for more than 25 years. “The bulk of parenting books on the market focus on the child as the problem. My book asks, ‘What can I do differently as a parent?’ ”
Chosak was able to draw her material from many years of experience. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master’s degree in clinical psychology, a doctorate in organizational psychology, and a California license in marriage and family therapy. In addition, she served as a consultant to the Los Angeles Superior Court Family Mediation Division (Conciliation Court), and was a regional coordinator for the California State Task force on Parenting and Families, a member of the California State Senate Judiciary-Family Law Advisory Committee, and a delegate to the White House Conference on Families.
Although her first book was recently published, it was actually about 25 years in the making.
“I’ve always loved to write,” Chosak said.
The idea first came about while she was living in L.A. and was the director of a human services training program at a private university, in addition to having a private therapy practice. Chosak was asked to speak to the university’s women’s philanthropy group on “Mothers and Daughters,” and the expectation was that about 40 people would attend. Surprisingly, 150 women showed up at the event.
Chosak said she knew it would be a middle-age, conservative group.
“I knew that what I wanted to say … I figured they wouldn’t be happy, but it needed to be said,” she noted.
Her talk focused on the fact that parents weren’t taking sufficient responsibility for their kids’ behavior and, instead of a backlash, people were clamoring for more. Subsequently, Chosak said the administrator of the program asked her to run a series of mother/daughter workshops, which she held twice a year, for four years. It was very popular and brought a mix of mothers/daughters, three generations and singles. During these workshops, one of Chosak’s exercises was to focus on parenting styles, rather than “what’s wrong” with the child.
One day, a colleague approached Chosak after attending one of the workshops and suggested that she write a book. It was initially a collaborative effort, but Chosak’s colleague eventually had to bow out. Chosak then put the book aside as “life intervened.” She had been raising three children – Mark, Jodi and Jamie. Chosak’s husband died when their children were still young, and she said they had a “very tough time” for a while.
“I worked really hard on my parenting and learned from what I did,” Chosak said.
But “we all came through it, and we have a great relationship,” she said.
The impetus for Chosak to return to her writing project was the death of her colleague who was part of the initial collaboration.
“Those intervening years gave me a lot more insight and perspective,” Chosak said.
She decided to phrase the book in terms of mother/daughter relationships, but most of it applies to other combinations and dynamics, as well.
Also, “I wanted to write a book that was not a redo of other books,” Chosak said.
In her 180-page book, Chosak incorporates the exercise on parenting styles she used in her workshops. There are 20 styles identified, and five of the most common are: overprotective, critical, controlling, self-involved and overachieving. Parents self-assess their style through reading the descriptions and examples, evaluating their style’s impact on their child’s development as well as on the ongoing parent-child relationship, and receiving tips on how to improve their relationship.
“Identifying your parenting style is an important way to understand and potentially improve the relationship, whether your child is a toddler or already an adult,” she said. “Relationships with your children don’t end when the kids are grown.”
Meanwhile, Chosak - who maintains a coaching and consulting practice - is already working on her next book. She revealed that it will be about families, and she’s in the research phase.
“Your Living Legacy” is available in paperback and e-book at www.shellichosak.com and on Amazon.