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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Skeptical Mothering on Darcia Narvaez


The Dangers of Being Insulting and Misleading

So let’s go back to the statement she linked with this article: “There are many longterm effects of undercare or need-neglect in babies.”   It might more accurately reflect the article to say, “There may be many long-term effects of lengthy separation from the mother, maternal mental illness, and chronic deprivation in an institutional setting, but we’re not yet sure what those effects are, and while we are guessing that certain brain mechanisms relate to emotional and attention disorders, we’re not sure about the details, and we don’t know if or how much parenting affects such mechanisms.”

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Things you need to know about The Work but didn’t know to ask

Reader Submission

Did you just hear from a trusted source about this amazing new method for relieving stress by simply questioning your troubling thoughts? Did you stumble across a parenting article that claims you can get rid of all of those “old tapes” from childhood by taking a moment for Self-Inquiry before responding to a child in a tantrum? Were you searching the internet for a respite from depression or anxiety and you clicked into an oasis of self-help hope promising to end all suffering?

If you don’t know it yet, we’re talking about The Work of Byron Katie, and before you try to heal your depression, resolve past trauma, or annihilate anxiety with those four little questions and a turn-around, there’s a lot more you need to know about The Work than you’ll find at the official site http://www.thework.com. This Q & A highlights a few spots in the background of The Work that fall into the shadows when the star, Byron Katie, takes the stage to tell her story.

What is The Work?
Byron Katie International states that The Work is, “a way to understand what’s hurting you, and to address the cause of your problems with clarity.” (http://thework.com/thework.php)

Even though The Work isn’t therapy, isn’t it better than therapy for reducing suffering?
In the context of measuring therapeutic outcomes, research-based evidence has become a growing standard used in western psychology (http://psychology.wikia.com/wiki/Eviden ... d_practice). There are no evidence-based, peer-reviewed studies of the effectiveness of The Work cited by Byron Katie or Byron Katie International in support of claims that utilizing The Work can, “alleviate depression, decrease stress, improve relationships, reduce anger, and/or increase mental clarity, energy, and peace.” (http://thework.com/thework.php)

But lots of people say The Work helps them, shouldn’t we just take their word for it?
All reports of the effectiveness of The Work, including Byron Katie’s own story, can be defined as testimonial or anecdotal, in the absence of rigorous evidence-based research. The Federal Trade Commission bars the use of testimonials for which an “advertiser itself cannot substantiate,” but third party testimonials such as book reviews and online comments do not have the same limits. (http://business.ftc.gov/documents/bus28 ... rules-road)

But psychologists recommend The Work. Shouldn’t we trust them?
Among the United States psychologists who have documented endorsements for The Work, one of the most visible, self-proclaimed parenting expert Naomi Aldort, has recently disclaimed her Ph.D. and psychologist credential as “not credible” (http://www.naomialdort.com). Another supporter, Anil Coumar, director of Student Mental Health at the University Washington has self-published one article in support of using a form of The Work in psychotherapy, but neglects to mention in the paper or his profile at the UW that he is also a Certified Facilitator of The Work (http://www.padoin.com/thework/anil.pdf). And David Wise, the psychologist who has published the strongest endorsement of The Work, claiming that “The best form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, in our opinion, is offered in The Work of Byron Katie,” earned his Ph.D. in sociology in 1967, not psychology (http://sociology.berkeley.edu/alumni2/), a fact that was only revealed after questions about his credentials were raised in patient forums. (http://www.pelvicpain.org.uk/forum/view ... e1dfbf4190)

But isn’t The Work just four questions and a turn-around?
Even the foot-in-the-door mantra about The Work is misleading. As advertised on http://www.thework.com, to do The Work, you first fill out a 6 question directed response form about your negative judgements of others on the Judge Your Neighbor worksheet, then you ask 4 questions about each statement on that form, and you are finally directed to turn each of the 6 statements around in 3 different ways and supply 3 concrete examples from your own life in which each of the 3 turn-arounds are true. If you just go through the process once, you have asked yourself 10 questions about your presumed negative belief and been led to construct at least 9 examples of how turning around your belief is at least as true or truer than you original thought. Plus, question 3 of the “four little questions” includes 7 subquestions for those who feel a bit confused by the query, “Who would you be without that thought?” (http://thework.com/downloads/worksheets/facilitationguide_Eng.pdf)

Next time: But The Work doesn’t ask you to do anything. Can questioning your thoughts hurt?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Bob Sears has an Odd Moment of Clarity

A reader had a question about her sister's induction.

it's just not appropriate for me to give medical advice in such a specific case. I don't have any experience with the Cervidal. I will say, though, that I'm not a fan of pitocin for induction or augmentation of labor. I understand that it's a dilemma deciding to induce or go more natural and wait it out longer. But I have to recommend that you follow your OB's advice on this.

To which another angry poster says:

...well then what are you on here for? Seriously... You're just afraid of liability like any other doctor. Instead of doing what's best for mothers, you're worried about giving medical advice to someone asking for it... and you're a doctor.... Or a coward. One of the two.

Heh.

Doctor Bob:

This isn't even worth responding too, but I will for the benefit of the others on this forum. It's nothing to do with liability. It has everything to do with the fact that it is completely irresponsible for any doctor to give medical advice on life and death decisions without performing a detailed history and physical examination. So, anytime someone asks me to give my opinion in an area that crosses this line, I have to decline. I'm shocked (or maybe I shouldn't be?) at your response, tone, and unrealistic expectation that I would actually render a medical opinion as to whether or not someone should undergo labor induction ON AN INTERNET FORUM. Seriously?

Yup. They're serious. Welcome to MDC, dude. Take a good long look at the monster your feeding.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Self-styled Experts that Simply Don't Care if You Get Ripped Off

Sandi Shwartz, who sells herself as a "parenting guru," responds.

Wow....I received your note.....

This is what I am thinking.

I pre recorded my show with Naomi. She's been a guest on my show before. I think that she has some really valuable wisdom to share about raising children. I didn't know anything about any of this controversy until after recording the show. Naomi actually advised me of it after the recording.

It is sad that people can think they are earning a professional degree and find out afterwards that it is not valid.

With that said, I still think Naomi's book has a wonderful understanding of children and parents and I am hoping that the show that we recorded together will be helpful to any parent who is looking for this information.

I did not say anything on the show about her having a doctorate. I do invite guests who are just parents or people who have a story to share that I think is poignant or helpful....with no degrees at all.....just life experience.

Naomi wrote a good book. I think there is a lot in there that is helpful for parents. It is also OK with me if my audience doesn't agree with her. I just want to encourage people to think about their relationship with children. That is the only reason I invited her on the show.

I so hope this speaks to your concerns...I do understand.

My best to you,

Sandi

So, I understand that her schedule appears to be more important than integrity.

Let's just say that word again.

Integrity.

It's one of those thing that I would like my child to have. Along with even a modicum of discernment and basic critical thinking skills.

Next up, we've got Donna Vail, an "education expert," whose credentials, fake or otherwise, are not listed on her website. She had Naomi on her show in March. This can be found here.

Thank you for sharing. I have read Naomi’s statement and this is something that many people have come against in distance learning. It is unfortunate because she did do the work however it does not in the slightest discount her wisdom, expertise and ability to counsel/coach families. Her studies and work reach well beyond this distance learning and I know for a fact that she is a constant student and genuine in her practices. She is one of the best parenting experts available today and I will continue to share her and her resources to the families I work with as well as work with Naomi any opportunity possible. Again, thanks for sharing. I appreciate it.

Just to reiterate. No. She did not in anyway shape or form, "do the work."

From Naomi's own words:

I never had in mind doing the regular amount of work to get a Ph.D. I never wanted or needed one. When I saw Wiltshire Universities (sic) offer, and didn’t know it was a scam, I figured it couldn’t hurt to have it.

Apparently, the Aldort newsletter went out today, wherein Aldort is playing the victim.  Though, it's not exactly the same as being the victim of someone that is charging you or your insurance company licensed psychology rates, who isn't a licensed psychologist.

We'll keep you posted, as others around the internet weigh in.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Pay No Attention to the Man Behind That Curtain: The Questionable "Expertise" of Naomi Aldort, Part Three

By Anon of Cleves

Making Excuses

As it became more and more clear that the public was on to her apparent fraud, Aldort began spinning a number of contradictory "explanations" for this purported "misunderstanding." In one private correspondence, she writes:

I have a Ph.D. It is a long story. It is not in psychology... I don't want it by my name.

This link naomialdort.net is new to me. I have no idea who created it. Strange.

My publisher insisted on Ph.D. by my name on the cover of the book. I refused.

We compromised and put it only on the back. Insurance wanted it, so people can collect for sessions... so you see. It is all so so silly and irrelevant...

If you can give me all the links where you see it, I would love that. So I can take care of it fully.

She has a doctorate degree and it's a long story? Or did her publisher make her make that claim? But wait...her book is self-published. Or was it to collect for sessions, for health insurance? Wouldn't that be insurance fraud? Take care of it fully...you mean, complete a cover-up operation? That's going to be difficult, seeing as Aldort has been tooting her horn as a "psychologist" just about everywhere:



In email correspondence with a different person, however, Aldort told a different story:

From: Naomi Aldort

Date: July 3, 2011 4:02:07 PM EDT

I am shocked. This is a strange mistake. Someone, on an interview, calls me "doctor" and I did not correct them (Probably because it was a live interview and would make them wrong and confusing and waste of short time.)

There should be non on my site though. where do you see it?

Where do we see it? Aldort began claiming she had a Ph.D. on her website's bio page in 2005 and continued to do so for years, as shown in these screen captures:






At this point, Aldort appears to have run for the hills, letting her 20-year-old son take over the task of deflecting blame. Lennon Aldort writes:

Tell your buddies in the online discussion forms that it's getting old, and that it's time to move on. I too will miss the hilarity of the discussions, but all things must come to an end at some point.

If you're genuinely curious about Naomi's credentials, she will shortly be publishing an official statement of apology and clarification about the whole "Ph.D" confusion.

Warmly,

Lennon Aldort

http://www.LennonAldort.com.

In fact, on July 4th, Lennon showed up in person on the TWWS and MDC forums to “set the record straight,” as it were. (Source: http://www.mothering.com/community/foru ... t_16537407)

The clarification statement, which has been edited since it was first posted, was apparently composed by Lennon, at Naomi's direction. (The blog is shown as belonging to Naomi Aldort.) At any rate, what it presents is yet another story that doesn't line up with the previous ones:

I removed Ph.D from my name two years ago, and continue to remove them as I find them on websites. I assure you, as I will clarify here, that what lead to this title is an innocent error. I had no intention to deceive. I was very naive and downright stupid. I studied music both for BA and graduate school (incomplete). I earned a Ph.D. in psychology, or so I thought, from a distant learning university in London in Dec. 2003.

Then, a couple of years ago, I learned that it was a scam and that I was duped. I was shocked and deeply disturbed. As soon as I suspected that, and even before I was sure, I rushed and removed the Ph.D. from everywhere that I could and planned to eliminate it promptly from the next production of anything in print.

It clearly is not true that Aldort had attempted to remove the credential from her name everywhere; her Amazon profile still lists it as of July 7, 2011, various websites of hers and those of her sons listed it as of June this year, and of course, her Facebook page still listed her as a Ph.D. only days before this "clarification." It could only be true that Aldort had attempted to remove the credential from her name everywhere if she maintained no control over all of these various sites that are directly connected to her personally and for which she holds the copyright.

Interestingly, in her attempt to validate her use of the credential and her practices, she cites her experience learning from some notorious leaders who have been accused of cult-like practices:

I developed my theories and teaching based on studies which included workshops with great psychologists like Virginia Satir and Will Schutz. I also studied the works of Gerald Jampolsky, participated in seminars of Harvey Jackins’s Re-evaluation Counseling, studied with Werner Erhard, Byron Katie, Eckhart Tolle, Richard Bandler’s Neurolinguistic Programing and others.

Questions were immediately raised regarding this statement, and Aldort's son fielded them for her,in a Q&A post. What was this supposed “scam university?” Wiltshire University, a now-disappeared mail order diploma mill in the UK. An academic in Illinois has compiled a dossier on Wiltshire and its questionable practices, showing that it was active in the early 2000s and that it allowed people to purchase sham “degrees” for $3,000. (Source: http://www.hep.uiuc.edu/home/g-gollin/oregon_north_dakota/#wiltshire)

Why was her June 2011 e-mail newsletter still signed "Naomi Aldort, Ph.D."? Well, she says she just cuts and pastes her newsletter text in, and the signature is automated, and she doesn’t proof the newsletters before they are sent out to subscribers.

Why was the Ph.D credential on her Facebook page? She says she didn't create her Facebook page...Lennon did so, without her knowledge. (The obvious followup questions to this--why would Lennon do that, why would Naomi not so much as look at it, and WHY would a son not know his mother's educational background while creating a publicity page for her--remain unanswered.)

Why did she call herself a psychologist? The answer to this question is, as we’ve learned is typical, in two contradicting parts:
She thought she had earned a Ph.D in psychology. If one has a Ph.D in psychology, one is legally called a psychologist. I think she also had no idea that the word "Psychologist" is a legal word. She used it as an english word describing the act of offering emotional guidance.

Most telling of all, why did Aldort not pursue a legitimate Ph.D. after discovering Wiltshire University was a scam? (Assuming she did not know it was such when she made her purchase.) In an answer since edited out of her clarification blog, Aldort said:


I never had in mind doing the regular amount of work to get a Ph.D. I never wanted or needed one. When I saw Wiltshire Universities (sic) offer, and didn’t know it was a scam, I figured it couldn’t hurt to have it.

So there it is: Aldort never wanted to do the work of an accredited Ph.D. in psychology, and felt entitled to practice as a “psychologist” without said degree. After all this "clarifying," and despite the handful of fans who have sprung to her defense, a few things are clearer than ever: Naomi Aldort is not qualified to dispense advice as a psychologist. Naomi Aldort does not have a license or degree in psychology. And Naomi Aldort will say whatever she thinks you want to hear to keep you buying her products and services. Or, if things get too tough, she'll send her son in to take care of it for her.

Update: as this was going out for publication, Aldort added a disclaimer statement to her homepage, linking to the “clarification statement.” No further explanation, apology, or offer of refunds--or to stop her counseling practice--has thus far been issued.

Part One

Part Two

Pay No Attention to the Man Behind That Curtain: The Questionable "Expertise" of Naomi Aldort, Part Two

By Anon of Cleves

What lies behind the credentials of “Naomi Aldort, Ph.D. and psychologist” and the uncomfortable relationship in the natural parenting community with “experts” proffering “expert advice?”

Aldort's Credentials

First, let’s be clear about what Aldort has been saying about herself and her credentials. In this screen capture (early July 2011) you can see how Naomi Aldort was claiming on her own Facebook page to hold a Ph.D. and to be a psychologist specializing in parenting:


Indeed, Aldort is billed as "Naomi Aldort, Ph.D." in dozens of contexts on the web, in print, at conference appearances, and including in the pages of her own self-published book. It is either outright said or implied in those contexts that she is either a psychologist, a child psychology expert, or a family therapist/counselor.

However, according to records from the Washington State Department of Health, she does not now and has never had a license to practice as a psychologist in that state, where she has resided since at least the early 1990s. Aldort did, however, formerly hold a license as a "registered counselor." This license was good from August 1994 to June 2010 and has expired. (Source: https://fortress.wa.gov/doh/providercre ... dnt=579963) It is likely that Aldort has not renewed it because she cannot; many people who were licensed as "registered counselors" no longer qualify for any license under new state laws which require mental health counselors to have at least some college-level background in mental health related topics. (Source: http://www.doh.wa.gov/hsqa/professions/ ... efault.htm)

So if she is not a licensed psychologist, and she is no longer a "registered counselor," what is her background? And how does she justify charging $5,000 - $9,000 for "retreats" at her home during which she will provide advice about "parenting, marriage, relationship, food, health, education" and instruct you in "ways to be with your child/ren and in playing power games effectively"? She charges $350 per hour for "counseling", but what is the source of her alleged expertise in that field? (Source: http://www.naomialdort.com/family-retreat.html)

Web searches conducted in an effort to learn more about her background only add to the enigma. It was easily found through public records that she had held copyright on a classical music aerobics program, that she had been involved in some kind of legal proceedings involving forest trespassing, that her maiden name was Katzir, and that she had immigrated to the USA from Israel in the 1980s. It was also easy to find that two of her three sons were heavily promoted by Aldort as classical music "prodigies." But nowhere could anyone find details on where she had attended college or graduate school, or in what degree programs she had matriculated.

Naturally, given the extreme and controversial nature of Aldort's parenting advice, for some people this raised a lot of questions. Starting in earnest in the summer of 2011, and coincident with Aldort’s presence on the mothering.com “Ask the Experts” forum, attempts to get answers from Aldort through the expert forum on Mothering.com were met with either silence--or the typical invitation to contact her to set up a phone session at the usual rate of a couple hundred dollars.

Starting in early summer 2011, when Aldort did not respond to direct questions about her credentials in the Mothering.com forum, and when some of the posts questioning her credentials were locked and removed, several readers began to convene on the spin-off bulletin board Trolls with Wooden Spoons to share their suspicions and dig deeper.

One poster checked the Dissertation Abstracts International database and found no entries by Aldort, which heightened suspicions about her alleged educational credentials. In discussions on the site, Aldort had asked Mothering.com readers concerned about her credentials to email her directly. When this poster emailed Aldort to clarify, Aldort responded that she did not, in fact, have a degree in psychology but that all of her education was in music. Another poster received an email reply from Aldort that read, in part:

What I write here is copywritten. Please keep the content of this email between us...

Please know that I purposefully avoid putting credentials by my name as much as possible, because I oppose the system of academic approval. I studied music, not psychology (Undergrad: Hebrew university and graduate school at the University of Colorado)...

Interestingly, my writing has been taught in universities since 1995 (McGraw Hill Text book)...

Forum readers immediately set to work verifying Aldort's claim about her writing having been included in a textbook. It was quickly established that Aldort’s work had merely been cited in passing and she was not a contributing author, as she had implied. (It's interesting to note that although Aldort claims to reject the mainstream practice of citing one's credentials, she did go on in that private correspondence at some length about the academic and professional accomplishments of her three sons.)

Further efforts to verify that Aldort had completed a doctoral program in music at Colorado failed to turn up any evidence of such degree, although it appears that she may have at least started a graduate music degree of some sort. Later on, Aldort backpedaled on even the music degree, saying that her graduate degree was incomplete.

So the truth was coming out: Aldort is not a licensed psychologist and does not have a graduate degree of any kind from an accredited institution. But this discovery, in turn, raised a number of even more pointed questions.

For instance, as of July 6, 2011, the Amazon product page for her book still read "Naomi Aldort, Ph.D. is a psychologist specializing in parenting." If Aldort is neither a psychologist nor a Ph.D. in music, how on earth did this come to be? Quite a number of websites list her as a guest columnist, cite her as an expert, or contain blurbs promoting her work--all bearing the title "Ph.D." or saying that she is a psychologist, or both!

Using Amazon.com's search inside feature, you can see how Aldort bills herself in the "About the Author" section of her self-published book:


It was becoming increasingly clear that Aldort must be driven by a profit motive and was willing to tell whichever story she thought would keep her in business. Although she has since gone back and deleted them, Aldort apparently was fond of leaving comments on the negative reviews of her books on Amazon, inviting the critic to partake of one of her $200 phone "counseling" sessions. One such retort (now deleted by Aldort) read:

"If you choose to take phone sessions with me (the author) I can show you much more effective and kind ways to be with your child. The book is not a panacea, but not in the way you see it."

The comment was posted in spring 2010, but deleted on July 1, 2011, in the midst of the breaking scandal. (Source: http://www.amazon.com/review/R3W8DO73QCZ/ref=cm_cr_pr_cmt?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1887542329&nodeID=&tag=&linkCode=#wasThisHelpful)

At about the same time, a forum member from TWWS posted a negative review revealing that Aldort had misled buyers as to her credentials. The review was soon removed from Amazon, apparently at Aldort's request.

Wanting to get to the bottom of Aldort's Ph.D. claims, another forum member engaged her in email correspondence:

Jul 2, 2011, at 5:03 PM, Naomi Aldort wrote:

“Thank you XXX. There is a whole ganging against me going on on the internet.

I left Mothering expert forum for that reason. These women are very aggressive.

I was naive to give out that information believing in their good intention. I don't know any of them as they hide on line behind made up name...”

Jul 2, 2011, at 7:32 PM, Naomi Aldort wrote:

Whether it is true or not is not relevant. It is slander because they use it to abuse my name.

Yes, it is true. That's why I don't have a degree by my name. On parenting I have studied from much more progressive sources than universities and invented my method which I teach to others.

So, the point is not if what they say is true. What they say is irrelevant...

There should not be any Ph.D. on amazon or anywhere. If there is, let me know so I can take it off. If had a Ph.D. in psychology, I would not have it by my name. I am devoted to teaching that our value needs no approval and that each person should decide with his/her own brain, whose service they value. People are trained by school and parents not to trust their own judgement and to depend on external approval. I am too radical for these mothers. I forgive them. It is innocent.

No problem, with "which forum." I don't really care. It was mostly curiosity.

Thank you for your support, and if you see Ph.D. or "psychologist" or even "counselor" by my name, please let me know.

Warmly,

Naomi Aldort

Author, Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves

http://naomialdort.com/book.html

Parenting phone-sessions internationally

Facilitator of self-realization through parenting

(360)376-3777 (This is not the sessions line)

POB 1719 Eastsound, WA 98245, USA

naomi@aldort.com

And yet...

Aldort has clearly been claiming to be a Ph.D. and psychologist in as many forums as possible, evidently to promote her work as broadly as possible. Who is it, exactly, that is dependent on external validation? Who is “too radical” for whom, here?






She also claims an MA in music when it suits her purposes:




And beyond that, she's not above giving out medical advice:

A poster on mothering.com wrote:

Hello, I am new to site. My 8 month old son got a fever while we were camping now 5 days ago. It has been up to a little over 104 these last few nights...He just seems so uncomfortable and cranky even when his fever goes down during the day! His nose was a bit runny, barely anything and he does have mosquito bites from camping and ate some bits of sticks by accident (if that matters?....) since there are no other symptoms i think teething, but I cannot feel any. I did not experience any of this with my older child. thank you so much in advance if you can answer my question

Naomi replied,

Dear Parent,

This is a time sensitive question and it is now over a week later. A phone call would be the better way to reach me when you need a prompt guidance.

It is emotionally difficult to watch your own baby be uncomfortable and to worry about his health. Please keep in mind that I am not a medical professional and cannot provide medical guidance. I can share m opinion and experience.

Fever is a good thing. It clears the body of illness. It could be a flu or some other inflammation the body is clearing out. I have never consulted a doctor about fever because doctors cannot know the cause unless other symptoms are obvious. Instead, I trusted the process and responded to the child/baby’s needs...

Warmly, Naomi Aldort, http://www.AuthenticParent.com

(Source: http://mothering.com/day-five-fever-and-irritability)

Part One

Part Three

Pay No Attention to the Man Behind That Curtain: The Questionable "Expertise" of Naomi Aldort, Part One

By Anon of Cleves

Every parent has wondered at one time or another why kids don't come with clear instructions: How do these little beings work? what can I do to make sure they do well in life? and how can I get from lunch to bedtime without losing my everlovin’ mind? Throughout the ages, experts have emerged to provide advice to eager parents. Parenting is tough work, and our appetite for “professional” advice, designed to help us navigate through the new world we enter when we become parents, has seemingly only grown since the days of Dr. Spock--the famous American pediatrician whose Baby and Child Care (1946) is one of the best-selling books of all time.

One among today’s generation of parenting experts is a Washington State woman named Naomi Aldort. You may recognize her name from the pages of Mothering Magazine, where her writing has been featured; or from the very popular mothering.com website, where she held a post as a resident expert in child rearing, answering questions from readers in an “Ask the Experts” forum on the site. You might have attended a talk given by her at a La Leche League conference, or purchased one of her CD lecture sets. You might even have scheduled a personal phone counselling session with her, and billed your insurance company accordingly. Or, perhaps most likely, you may know of her 2006 book, Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves: Transforming parent-child relationships from reaction and struggle to freedom, power and joy.

Over the past half-dozen years, as her popularity and influence in the parenting world has grown with the publication of her book, Aldort has presented herself as the recipient of a doctorate in psychology--that is, an acknowledged expert in child development and parenting. With the title “Ph.D.” appended to her name, Aldort has dispensed advice to parents through her writings, public speaking engagements and through private sessions directly with individual parents. She has also used the title “psychologist.” In the United States, only someone who holds a valid license to practice as a psychologist, in addition to a doctorate in psychology, may use this title (with a few specific exemptions, such as school psychologists). (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychologist#cite_note-6)

Aldort’s advice veers far from the mainstream; she has gained considerable attention and traction in the natural or alternative parenting world with her unconventional approaches to resolving parenting issues. Parents may have been comforted by the notion that, while her ideas might seem radical and her approach far from contemporary North American parenting norms, that advice and perspective was developed and assessed through the rigorous process of obtaining a doctorate, and that her capacity to offer advice to others had likewise been tested and validated through the professional psychologist licensing qualification. For a sleep-deprived new mom or a parent of an older child wondering how best to steer through a parenting challenge, the three little letters after Aldort’s name, together with the “psychologist” title, may well have functioned as a “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” on the advice she dispensed.

And what are some of Aldort’s unconventional parenting ideas? In one startling example, she has suggested that young children experience the process of falling asleep as “like death” and consequently they should never--not ever--be left to fall asleep on their own or even left alone once fully asleep. Instead, “bedtimes” are to be eschewed while the entire nuclear family falls asleep at their own pace, in the same setting, with no solitude permitted for any member and with baby in constant, full-body contact with mother lest they experience a “terror” so overwhelming there are no words available to describe it. (Source: http://www.naomialdort.com/articles10.html)

In another instance, a mother asks Aldort for advice regarding a child who “If anyone says anything to her, our friends, complete strangers, whoever, she will tell them ‘Go away’ or ‘you’re stupid’ … Sometimes she will even randomly hit people as well.” Aldort advises the mother:

A child has no way of being “rude.” The word “rude” is your interpretation of her actions or words. A child is too self-centered to bother with doing anything to another. She is busy doing things for her own sake only...If you tell your daughter that her words can hurt people’s feelings, you are teaching her to get hurt by people’s words. This sets her up to being emotionally weak and dependent on what others’ say...How exciting it is that your child stands up for herself...How I wish we could all retain this level of honesty and were not trained to feel hurt by words...don’t teach her that words can hurt. They cannot.

(Source: http://www.mothering.com/child-rude-random-people)

In other words, if your child is hurting people and calling them names, don’t correct that behavior--or you are training your child to be a victim.

A poster on the Mothering.com forums shares another tidbit of unconventional advice gleaned from one of Aldort’s phone sessions:

have you read or heard of Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves by Naomi Aldort? We did a couple of phone consultations with her recently (as some may know we have a bit of a challenge with our oldest boy, 10) and she said that part of his issue was having all the younger siblings and how it has taken away from him. She said it is like bringing home another lover to your bed and telling your husband he should be so happy about it! I don't know- but she said ideally you would never have siblings closer together than 7 years

(Source: http://www.mothering.com/community/forum/thread/1308918/birds-do-it-bees-do-it-even-ladies-in-their-forties-do-it-40-spring-ttc/400#post_16512820)

One would hope that someone making such outrageous and shocking suggestions as this--that even a grade school-aged child cannot be left alone to sleep because children experience sleep as “like death,” that teaching a child manners and consideration for others will result in them becoming weak and victimized, and that having a second child is akin to having an extramarital affair--would have the weight of compelling research and training to back up her assertions. Aldort claimed to be a psychologist with the associated training in clinical skills and research that comes with a Ph.D. in that field. But what if the academic weight of the Ph.D. and the heft of the professional psychologist license were nothing but an illusion in the case of Naomi Aldort?

What if Aldort hadn’t earned a doctorate and was not, in fact, a licensed psychologist, but instead traces her intellectual development and approach to her “study” with controversial figures such as Werner Erhard (founder of the 1970s “EST” seminars, infamous for their profanity and abuse of participants), Richard Bandler (co-founder of the 1970s “Neuro-Linguistic Programming” therapy model, a “fringe” movement which has been widely discredited due to insufficient empirical evidence to support its claims and efficacy), and more contemporary figures including Eckhardt Tolle and Byron Katie--both authors and “spiritual leaders” with no particular academic or professional qualifications?

Would parents have still flocked to her advice, forums, seminars, books, videos and CDs? Would her teachings have gained the same following if the curtain of academic achievement and professional licensing was pulled back? Would she have been invited to serve in the “Ask the Experts” section of a popular parenting site if it was known that her “expertise” was anchored mainly in the murky, EST-y underbelly of the modern self-help and personal empowerment movements?

Part Two

Part Three