“The Mindful Couple” offers sound advice, strategies and exercises
If Craig and Debbie Lambert’s recently released book, “The Mindful Couple,” reads as though much of it were based on their experiences together, that’s because it is.
Having extensive careers as therapists, the Carmel Valley couple have parlayed their professional knowledge with the lessons they have learned interacting with each other over their five years together, the last two in marriage.
“We practice what we preach,” Craig said in an interview Feb. 27. “We practice a lot with each other. Using your relationship as your spiritual path or your path to evolve is not an easy journey. Not everybody’s up for it. ...
“We spend a lot of time working on our own relationship and maximizing our own personal potential. ... We decided to share our knowledge in a book so people have all this information at their fingertips.”
Subtitled “52 Weekly Strategies to Real Love & Connection,” the 265-page volume published by Hawk Press and produced by Two Page Books includes numerous passages in which the Lamberts describe how they managed to work their way through their own dilemmas.
“We use all of our tips (in the book),” Debbie said. “A lot of times couples who work with us find that we bring examples of what happens in our house to them and they appreciate it because it makes it a little bit more understandable.”
To promote “The Mindful Couple,” the Lamberts held a book launch party in mid-February at One Paseo in Del Mar that was attended by clients and other acquaintances, many of whom had read the book.
“There are so many great little nuggets of wisdom that Debbie and Craig were so kind to put in one place to make it really easy to get,” said Isaac Perez in a video recorded at the party.
“I’m just stoked to have this in my backpack, on my bedside table and drawing from this stuff wherever I see fit. ... I would recommend this to anyone who is just looking to take their relationship game to the next level.”
Each of the Lamberts have arrived at couples’ counseling as the focus of their practices after launching their careers more than three decades ago from different angles.
Debbie attended SDSU, where she earned her bachelor’s degree psychology, then graduated with a master’s in industrial/organizational psychology.
“I worked as an executive coach in organizations for many, many years,” she said. “Then, I started doing more life coaching and then couples coaching with Craig. Even though it sounds different, it’s very similar. It’s basically helping people get from where they are to where they want to be.”
When asked what inspired her interest in mind science, she recalled an episode when she was 10. She wanted to know what her older sister’s friend meant when he said he was taking a high school psychology class.
“He said, ‘Okay, see this coffee cup? And he says ‘I see a different coffee cup than you do,’” said Debbie, who at that time didn’t understand what he was getting at.
He then used the analogy of how a house looks now compared to how it would look years later to explain the concept of vantage point.
“And I got it,” she said. “And I was just fascinated all my life and when I went to college with what makes us tick — what’s behind us as human psychological beings. I’ve always gravitated toward psychology.”
Craig credited the original inspiration for his career journey to his mother.
“She did not let me slide by with ‘Everything’s okay,’” he said. “She encouraged me to talk about my feelings when I was a child. By doing that, I learned the importance of that. ... My mother was my first teacher in how to be in a relationship.”
A licensed clinical social worker with various credentials in therapy, Craig did his undergraduate studies at New York University and completed his master’s in social work at SDSU.
He said he was inspired to redirect his career into relationship therapy after attending a workshop conducted by Harville Hendrix, co-author of the pioneering New York Times bestseller “Getting the Love You Want.”
Hendrix, who became Craig’s mentor, and his co-author Helen Hunt endorsed “The Mindful Couple” on its cover: “Think of this as a pocket guide to a healthy, happy love life.”
One of Hendrix’s key concepts is found in his saying, “Conflict is growth waiting to happen,” Craig said.
“We don’t see conflict as a bad thing; it’s a good thing,” he said. “We like to use conflict as an opportunity with our couples to support and nurture each other and grow together.
Not surprisingly, their joint practice has become increasingly focused on relationships between partners.
“When I started working with couples, it was more exciting to me, in a way, than working with individuals,” Debbie said. “When you’re working with an individual, all you have is their story. ...
“When I started working with couples, you’re able to see the dance that happens between people who are in a relationship with one another. ...
“To be able to witness that dance and help identify which steps aren’t working and create a new dance that works better is so exciting. ... It’s like watching a ballet in a way.”
“Or a tango,” Craig chimed in.
Either way, Craig and Debbie Lambert, in “The Mindful Couple,” offer their own lessons on how partners can overcome the missteps and stumbles they encounter in choreographing their life together.
“Philosophically, our mission, and I know it sounds like a cliche, is ‘Healing the world one couple at a time,’” Craig said.
The Lamberts will be promoting their book and Lambert Couples Therapy at the upcoming Bridal Bazaar, March 15, at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.
Information on the Lamberts is available at craiglamberttherapy.com. “The Mindful Couple: 52 Weekly Strategies to Real Love & Connection” is available through amazon.com.