Interview With Author Hilary Jacobs Hendel

Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!

Hello. My name is Hilary Jacobs Hendel. I am an emotion educator and trauma psychotherapist from New York City. About a decade ago I discovered a body of science that explains emotions, anxiety, depression, and how to feel our best and most authentic selves. This information changed my personal and professional life. I started writing about these ideas for the general public starting with a blog in 2015, and then a book that Random House published last year called It’s Not Always Depression. Everyone benefits from understanding how to use emotions to navigate life’s challenges and heal the wounds that have lead to distress and symptoms like depression and anxiety. Healing and thriving in life depends on whether we bury emotions or validate them.

What is/are the real-life story(ies) behind your book(s)?

I write about myself, people in my psychotherapy practice, and people I have encountered in my personal life. With their permission, I share detailed storied of trauma and recovery. I show how we need to work wth our emotions to feel calmer and more confident, so we aren’t afraid of what we feel. I also share many personal stories to show that it is ok to be authentic, imperfect, and vulnerable.

What inspires/inspired your creativity?

The desire to share emotion education as it relates to everyday life experiences. I am inspired when I hear people’s struggles and I have information that can help.

How do you deal with creative block?

I wait patiently until I have an inspiration and I have faith something will happen that will inspire me.

What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?

I think a big mistake writers make is not using plain, simple, clear language so the information they share can be understood and digested by anyone. I hate jargon!

Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?


How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?

“You can please come of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time.” Of course, I feel hurt if someone says something bad about my articles and book. But I have also been pleasantly surprised by how much “It’s Not Always Depression” has resonated positively for 99% of people I have heard from.The information I share changed my life for the better in so many ways so in another way, I am not too surprised of the positive response. At least once a week I receive an email from someone thanking me for the book. Many times I have been told the information in the book is life-changing, which of course, it was for me 🙂

How has your creation process improved over time?

I have more confidence that inspiration will come when it’s time. My writing has also improved with practice.

What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?

Best: How easily the information poured out of me when writing “It’s Not Always Depression.” When I have something to say, writing is easy. When I don’t, it is nearly impossible, which makes logical sense.

Worst: Disagreeing with my editor, which didn’t happen that often. I was worried the title didn’t accurately convey that the book was about how emotions affect our mind, body, and brain. Buried emotions lead to depression, anxiety and other symptoms. And, we can heal by validating and processing those emotions which present as physical sensations. That’s what the book shows with stories, exercises, and explanations of trauma, attachment, and emotion science.

Surprising: I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the process because it was a true labor of love. I imagined everyone I cared about having this information and it made me very motivated and happy.

Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?

Both! What good is writing if your readers aren’t moved in deeply emotional and life-changing ways. It gives my great personal satisfaction to help people with their emotional and mental health. I have knowledge, tools, and techniques that help and I love sharing the information with others. I hope to change the world by making sure emotion education is a part of all our formal education. In terms of balancing the two, it doesn’t seem to be a problem. I am writing about universal human emotions so what has given me satisfaction is sharing what I know will help others. They seem to go hand in hand.

What role do emotions play in creativity?

Everything. I write from my heart and then edit with an eye for being clearly understood.

Do you have any creativity tricks?

I have to be in the right emotional headspace. For me it means being calm and connected to my heart and to my fellow humans. I write and re-write until an article or chapter feels right.

What are your plans for future books?

I am working on a book about hugs.

Tell us some quirky facts about yourself

I love to have fun and be silly. I enjoy dancing at home with my husband both for fun and to loosen up my aging joints. I love helping people understand emotions. I sing and play guitar. I am eternally interested in human behavior.

Hilary Jacobs Hendel, LCSW, takes the complex world of emotions and makes them easy to understand for all. She is author of the award-winning self-help book on emotions called, It’s Not Always Depression: Working the Change Triangle to Listen to the Body, Discover Core Emotions, and Connect to Your Authentic Self (Random House, 2018). She is a certified psychoanalyst and AEDP psychotherapist and supervisor. She has published articles in The New York Times, TIME, Oprah, Salon, and professional journals. Hendel also consulted on the psychological development of characters on AMC’s Mad Men. Hilary’s blog on emotions and how to use them for wellbeing is read worldwide. For more FREE resources on emotions and emotional health, visit:

Twitter: @HilaryJHendel
Instagram: Hilary Jacobs Hendel
The Change Triangle YouTube Channel:
Check out:  It’s Not Always Depression: Working the Change Triangle to Listen to the Body, Discover Core Emotions, and Connect to Your Authentic Self (Random House, 2018):

If I can be of further help or a mental health resource, don’t hesitate to let me know. If you are interested in emotional health, I hope you’ll check out some of the information on my website. Men in particular in our society are deeply hurt by the many myths and falsehoods concerning emotions.


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