example, or argue that an adopted son should have less stake in
the business than a biological one.
These are the sorts of issues that “have no place, no rationale,
at the board meeting,” says Florence Kaslow, PhD, a psychologist
in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, who is certified in family
business advising by The Family Firm Institute. Rather, they
should be worked out in therapy if they cannot be handled
at a family dinner, retreat or meeting. “The family business
being successful is important to everybody, and if old issues
keep getting played out competitively, it’s to the detriment of
everybody,” she says.
Bringing a bit of family background into the board meeting
isn’t all bad, though. A 2008 study, for instance, found that
family business CEOs tend to be more successful if they possess
“cultural competencies,” such as understanding the family’s
goals, values and norms, rather than just living up to the more
formal qualifications of the job (Family Business Review, 2008).
Transitions from one generation to the next can be a prime
time for conflict, too. Wealth manager Gary Bottoms, of The
Bottoms Group in Atlanta, explained in a Wall Street Journal
essay in September that he brings in a psychologist when
assisting clients who are transferring ownership of a business
from one generation to the next. Having a psychologist on the
team, he said, “can help people articulate and communicate
their feelings so that they can understand where one another are
coming from.” Bottoms also enlisted a psychologist’s help when
All in the family
Sharing an interest in psychology has its ups and downs.
BY ANNA MILLER • Monitor staff
When APA President Nadine J. Kaslow, PhD, first became involved with the association,
“she was seen as my daughter,” says Florence
Kaslow, PhD, a psychologist who has served in
various leadership positions within the organization,
including as president of the Div. 43 (Society for
Family Psychology), Div. 46 (Media Psychology and
Technology) and co-chair of APA’s Committee on
International Relations in Psychology.
Now that Nadine has forged her own identity, says
Florence, “to some extent, it’s reversed. I’m seen as
Nadine’s mother and not as much for what I myself
On the upside, the mother-daughter pair benefits
from a sort of bi-directional mentorship, Nadine
Kaslow says. She credits one of her mom’s graduate
school books on IQ with first fueling her fascination
with psychology as early as age 8. “I learned what
standard deviation was and I decided that was a
really big deal and it made me super curious about
different types of intelligence,” says Nadine Kaslow,
who went on to attend some of her mother’s lectures
and decided to major in psychology “before I even
went to college,” she says. In turn, Nadine Kaslow
now helps her mom stay up to date with the latest
happenings at APA.
Psychologists such as the Kaslows who work in
the same field as family members can face issues
such as competition and resentment, but can also
benefit from the added support. Academics or
clinicians who fall in love, too, must confront the
challenges of mixing business and pleasure.
“There has to be a lot of care and attention given
to how you work through power dynamics,” says
Nadine Kaslow, who is also a professor of psychiatry
and behavioral medicine at Emory University School
of Medicine. “When do you decide to really assert
yourself? When do you decide to collaborate? When
do you decide it’s just not worth it? You’re making
decisions that aren’t just in a work relationship.
They’re in a personal relationship.”
Psychologist couples know this well.
Paul Verhaeghen, PhD, and Shelley Aikman, PhD,
for example, met when he was on faculty at Syracuse