Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Does Your Character Need Some "Couch Time"?

I was recently introduced to a brand new website debuting on the web this month. Jeannie Campbell is a therapist by trade and has taken the skills she has learned in real life and transposed them onto the novel writing scene.

I was given an exclusive sneak peek of her website (http://charactertherapist.com/) earlier this month and was impressed with what I found! Writers, I mean this seriously when I say you should give this site a look around.

Jeannie has made it very user-friendly and helpful for the aspiring novelist. One feature I plan to use is her character diagnostic form. YOU become your character and answer the questions. Just going through the process for what Jeannie has laid out on her website will make the writer's job less painful.

Here's a bit from Jeannie herself in what her site has to offer:

What is Character Therapy?

Copyright Elizabeth Mueller: http://elizabethmueller.blogspot.com/

Character Therapy is what I do when I use my professional training and experience as a licensed clinician to evaluate and diagnose fictional characters.

How can you—a published or aspiring writer—benefit?

1) Write characters more realistically.
Using a search engine to find out information about a mental disorder yields a very different result than asking a therapist who has treated those same problems in real life. Instead of getting a bunch of stale facts, I can help you breathe life into your characters while taking into consideration your unique story world.

2) Plot more feasibly.
Plotting the external conflict around your character’s internal conflict is essential to create tension on every page. Understanding the character’s driving goals and motivation in relation to their emotional state will help you figure out what plot points need to occur to maximize the character’s arc to its fullest potential.

3) Avoid clichéd or incorrect depictions of mental disorders.
My passion is helping those not afflicted with mental disorders understand those who are. Since one in four adults have a mental disorder, the likelihood of one of your characters having one is pretty high. But you want every nuance to ring true about the character, not feel cardboard cutout or stereotyped. So pick my brain instead of yours to avoid pitfalls of re-writing later.

Have I piqued your curiosity?  Think your characters might benefit from some couch time?

Casey again: *snicker* I know mine does. If you want to know more about Jeannie or her site you can visit it here, the site is now live!

Jeannie the Therapist:
Jeannie Campbell is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFC # 45366) in the state of California. She is Head of Clinical Services for a large non-profit in Humboldt County, and enjoys working mainly with children and parents.

Jeannie graduated summa cum laude from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary with a Masters of Divinity with Specialization in Psychology and Counseling and magna cum laude from the University of Mississippi with a double major in psychology and journalism. She has worked in a crisis pregnancy center, psychiatric hospital, drug rehabilitative program, several non-profits and homeless shelters, a foster family agency, and in private practice.

Jeannie the Writer:
Jeannie has been writing ever since she received a diary for her fifth birthday. She began writing angst-ridden middle-grade novels in junior high, often commandeering the family computer for hours on end. After eight years of higher educational pursuits, she moved onto adult contemporary romance and romantic suspense, frequently using her day job as a therapist to generate lots of fodder for her night job as a writer.

Two of Jeannie’s “therapeutic romance” manuscripts have garnered the high praise of being finalists in the Genesis Contest for unpublished writers, sponsored by the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), of which she is an active member. She writes a popular monthly column for Christian Fiction Online Magazine and has been featured in many other e-zines, newspapers, and blogs.


  1. I recently checked out The Character Therapist, and loved it too! Thanks Casey for telling more people, this is really helpful.

  2. Thanks for this post. I had heard about the site, but hadn't visited until I read your recommendation. I was just at the point in my latest novel that I needed this help.
    Debbie from Edge of Escape

  3. FAYE, so glad you found the site already!

    DEBBIE, so glad it was helpful! Hopefully it will help you through those tough character spots. :)

  4. casey - thanks so much for featuring me on your website! the kindness of "strangers" - who happen to be sisters in Christ--never ceases to amaze me. :) thanks again!

  5. It was my pleasure Jeannie! And I completely agree with you! Hopefully someday, it won't be "strangers" anymore. :-))


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