Official Interview: Dr. Barbara Koltuska-Haskin

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Official Interview: Dr. Barbara Koltuska-Haskin

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Today's Chat with Sarah features Dr. Barbara Koltuska-Haskin author of How My Brain Works.

To view the official review, click here.

To view the book on Amazon, click here.


1. Tell us a little about who you are and what you do outside of writing.

My name is Dr. Barbara Koltuska-Haskin, and I am a Clinical Neuropsychologist in private practice in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I have over thirty years of clinical experience. I also have a research and academic teaching background. I am also a classically trained mezzo-soprano and have a CD with classical music on the internet entitled Old Masters' Love Songs. My hobby is organic gardening, and the produce I eat is mainly from my garden.

2. When did you think, "I should turn all this knowledge I have into a book"?

I had that thought for a long time before I started writing my book. As a matter of fact, my patients would frequently tell me “you know so much, you have to write a book”. However, as a rare specialty provider, I have a very busy private practice, and I felt I had no time for writing. There is a story behind me actually starting writing a book that I put in my book for my readers to enjoy and motivate some of them to actually start writing their books.

3. Who most inspired you on your writing journey?

My patients have been my toughest teachers and inspiration for more than 30 years of my professional career. In my book, I also thank three people whom I have never met but who inspired me and gave me the impetus to start working on this book. The late Dr. Wayne Dyer, the Oprah Winfrey’s brilliant and thought-provoking Super Soul Sunday series, and a writer named Elizabeth Gilbert.

4. Let's talk about your book How My Brain Works. It discusses neuropsychological evaluation. Can you tell us what that is in a nutshell?

If you want to get on the journey to improving your brain functioning, you need a “road map” of that brain functioning, and neuropsychological evaluation is that road map. It tells you which of your cognitive functions are average for your age and which are better or much better. It will also tell you which are below average for your age or which are compromised and how much they’re compromised (mild, moderate, severe). Most important, you can use the knowledge about your brain to improve your everyday functioning, reach your life goals, and improve or overcome your cognitive problems, such as memory, attention, or verbal problems. It will also help you understand how your emotional problems such as depression, anxiety, or mood swings affect your cognition and what you can do to help yourself in these areas.

5. The reviewer mentions how well you are able to make complex concepts simple. How difficult was that to achieve?

It was not that difficult for me, because for very many years, I always have been explaining brain functioning to the patients and their families. Brain functioning is very complex, but I have to use language that they can easily understand and absorb so they have a clear understanding as to what works well in their brain and what does not and what to do about it.

6. What was your goal in writing this book? What did you want readers to learn most?

The purpose of this book, which comes from my more than thirty years of experience as a neuropsychologist, was to explain how neuropsychological evaluation can help people understand how their brain is working, in order for them to reach their full potential and/or to help them heal if they are recovering from brain trauma or other brain-related problems or diseases. I also shared with my readers some of my favorite ideas and mind practices for improving and maintaining brain health, ones that I use in my clinical practice and also in my everyday life. Most of my patients say that these ideas and practices have been helpful. I hope they can be of help to my readers as well.

7. What was the publishing process like for you?

It was much more difficult than I expected. I knew that I had a good manuscript because I sent it out for an evaluation to an independent and well-regarded book editor, and it came back with an excellent review. I have been practicing for over 30 years, so I know my area very well. However, this is my first book, and I am not a celebrity, so I did not have a platform at that time. It took me almost 2 years to find a good and reputable publisher, Terra Nova Books, which turned out to be very good and very supportive to their authors. I must mention that, because of the pandemic, they are hosting online book readings for their authors for no cost to the authors, and it is great!

8. Tell us about your upcoming projects.

I was recently invited to become a contributor for Psychology Today magazine online, which is an honor and a recognition, but they require a very high standard of writing, so it is a lot of work for each piece, but also a lot of satisfaction. My first piece How to Deal with Stress in Everyday Life reached several hundred views within a few days. I am all about helping others to have a quality of life, so it feels great!

12. What sound do you consider most relaxing?

Any kind of sound of nature. I love to meditate outside and hear the birds chirping, bees buzzing on my now flowering fruit trees, and the sound of leaves moved by the wind. Being in the nature is the most relaxing for me.
A book is a dream you hold in your hands.
—Neil Gaiman
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