Ben Michaelis, Ph.D.

Clinical Psychologist, Blogger for Huffington Post and Psychology Today, Expert on Unlocking Creativity for a Life of Purpose

Ben Michaelis, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, popular blogger for Huffington Post and Psychology Today, and the author of Your Next Big Thing: Ten Small Steps to Get Moving and Get Happy. He has worked with hundreds of patients, including New York Times best-selling authors, musicians, artists, entrepreneurs, business professionals, and students to help them realize their dreams. In his book and dynamic keynote talks, Michaelis shares his proven strategies to end monotonous routines and unlock creativity to lead a life of purpose. He is the author of numerous scholarly articles, his popular blog on Psychology Today focuses on the importance of creativity in personal and professional growth, and he is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post. Michaelis has been featured as a mental health expert on various radio and television programs and publications including Parents magazine, Entertainment Weekly, the New York Times, Glamour, and Redbook, as well as many others.

Michaelis believes that we are all meant to create. The passion and energy he brings to his keynote talks is the basis for his approach to psychological treatment. He teaches audiences to discover their true selves, what they really need out of life – and how to get it. He provides audiences with a 10-step plan to find the path right for them, face what’s holding them back, and break through the illusions that have been keeping them from a life of possibilities. Michaelis leaves audiences with the inspiration and power to conquer each of their personal and business goals and obtain the life they truly desire and deserve.

Michaelis grew up in Teaneck, N.J. among creative people from diverse economic and cultural backgrounds that fed his interest in theater arts, film, and self-discovery. He received an award from a Princeton University Science and Arts competition for a documentary film he created about racism in his hometown. This led him to enroll in the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Illinois, where he soon realized that he “didn’t fit well into the culture of the school,” and dropped out to travel to the Middle East. He returned to college at Columbia University (Columbia College). After graduating, Michaelis worked at the Children’s Television Workshop (CTW) performing research with children for Sesame Street and The New Ghostwriter Mysteries. After several years at CTW he felt the need to travel once again, this time to India and Nepal where he wrote, thought, and learned.

Michaelis graduated summa cum laude from Columbia University (Columbia College) in 1995 and was admitted to Phi Beta Kappa the same year. He earned his Master’s degree from New York University in 2001 and received his Ph.D. in 2004, also from NYU. Michaelis was the recipient of a MacCracken Graduate Fellowship and was a teaching fellow at NYU in 2000 and 2001. He completed his clinical internship at New York University-Bellevue Hospital in 2004. Michaelis has been in private practice since 2005. He is the co-founder of the Downtown Clinicians Collective, New York City’s largest organization of clinicians providing service to the downtown community. He has served on the medical faculty of Lenox Hill Hospital and is currently a visiting scholar at Columbia University. He lives with his family in Brooklyn.

Praise for Ben Michaelis, Ph.D. and Your Next Big Thing

“Ben brings a message that those working with children at home or professionally need to embrace.”

—Terri Silver, Oklahoma State School Boards Association

“Very many people from all walks of life feel anxious, frustrated, and ‘stuck’ in their lives and can’t see a way forward. As a clinical psychologist, Ben Michaelis knows this all too well. Often enough the prescription is clear. We create our lives and we can re-create them too. The best way ahead is to look within ourselves and rekindle our natural appetites for imagination, play, and a driving sense of purpose. Based on his extensive experience as a practicing therapist, Your Next Big Thing is a highly practical and delightfully readable guide to how to make the most of your life by making the best of yourself.”

—Sir Ken Robinson, Educator and New York Times Best-selling Author of

The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything

“Dr. Michaelis has created a manual for changing your life that is effective, practical, and holistic. He invites us to befriend our demons so as to liberate our true essence and live a life of joy and meaning. His writing is down-to-earth and humorous. You can trust him as your guide if you are feeling stuck or uninspired and even if you are on purpose and simply want a friendly voice to keep you on track.”

—Hala Khouri, MA, Somatic Counselor, Yoga Teacher,

and Co-founder of Off the Mat, Into the World®

“Ben Michaelis has written a wonderfully practical and inspiring guide to living a life of purpose and creativity. Whether one is stuck or seeking to enhance an already satisfying life, Ben’s thought-provoking and clarifying exercises, concrete strategies, and real-life examples help the reader reflect, prioritize, and take action.”

—Martha E. Edwards, Ph.D., Director of the Ackerman Institute

for the Family’s Center for the Developing Child and Family

Your Next Big Thing is a groundbreaking and essential book. With his approachable and empathic style, Dr. Michaelis gives you the tools and confidence you need to awaken your passions and forge a new path to your future.”

—Jordan Matter, Photographer and Author of Dancers Among Us

“Ben’s book is a gift to everyone who is stuck . . .  For the price of two frappuccinos, this book will change your life. Seems like a good investment to me.”

—Nancy Lublin, CEO of Do Something and Author of Zilch: The Power of Zero in Business

“Dr. Ben Michaelis truly embodies his philosophy of play throughout both his personal and his professional life. He shows us each how play and self-expression can bring meaning and fulfillment to our lives on many levels.”

—Cricket Azima, Big Cheese and Founder of The Creative Kitchen and Kids Food Festival

Your Next Big Thing is an amazing book that brings many aspects of self-development together in the most simple and yet powerful way. Dr. Michaelis has an amazing way of translating complex psychological concepts into simple steps easy to follow and does so in a very engaging and personal conversational style that makes the reader feel at ease and connected.”

—Dinelia Rosa, Ph.D., Director of the Dean-Hope Center

of Educational & Psychological Services, and Adjunct Associate

Professor at the Clinical Psychology Program at Teachers College, Columbia University

“Although there have been numerous self-help books over the years, this one stands out as truly exceptional. It is clearly written, jargon-free, and should have a powerful transformative effect for those who immerse themselves in it and are receptive to the guidance it offers.”

—David L. Wolitzky, Ph.D., Former Director of the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. Program,

New York University, Supervisor of the New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis

Your Next Big Thing is a great step-by-step, interactive guide for getting ‘unstuck’ and moving forward in life.”

—Guy Winch, PhD, Author of The Squeaky Wheel

What if you struggle to build a positive mindset because you’re stuck in a rut? And how do you know if you’re stuck? That one is easy — take the quiz offered by clinical psychologist Ben Michaelis and you’ll find out if you’re ‘running in place’ in your work or personal lives or both. Built like a fast-paced series of therapy sessions, this book focuses the reader on a two-pronged strategy of self-discovery and small action steps to correct course. The experienced reader of self-help books will recognize familiar topics such as overcoming procrastination and discovering purpose. Luckily, Michaelis’ stories, quizzes, and exercises keep the information fresh as you work toward building the life of play and purpose that Michaelis envisions.”

Atlanta Journal-Constitution