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Abigail Gewirtz

Author of When the World Feels Like a Scary Place

Dr. Abigail Gewirtz is a child psychologist, mother of four, and leading expert on helping families cope with trauma. She has devoted her career to research on how to improve outcomes and resilience in children who experience stress.

Dr. Abi’s early personal experiences informed her work—including her father’s family separation as a small child during evacuation from London at the start of World War II; her encounters living in Israel during the first Gulf War; and explaining the attacks on 9/11 to her own young children. With the knowledge that many families have limited access to mental health resources, she wanted to write a book that gave parents tools to address tragic events and difficult subjects.

With cases of anxiety and depression skyrocketing among kids, When the World Feels Like a Scary Place is an essential and urgent guide for parents about having tough conversations with kids. Dr. Abi’s book discusses how bad things happening in the world affect our children, and how to maintain wholeness and security amid anxiety. The book gives helpful scripts and clear, practical prompts for parents with examples of real-life issues and tips on how to keep conversations age appropriate.

Dr. Abigail Gewirtz is the Lindahl Leadership Faculty Chair and Professor in the Department of Family Social Science and the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota (and from Fall 2021, Foundation Professor in the Psychology Department at Arizona State University). She is Editor in Chief of the International Journal of Psychology, an ex officio member of the Executive Committee of the International Union of Psychological Science, and Fellow of both the Association for Psychological Science and the American Psychological Association. She has consulted for national and international organizations including the U.S. Congress and UNICEF. She has developed award-winning parenting programs and is the author of more than 100 publications. Dr. Abi has conducted research in the United States, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, and has been invited to speak widely, in the U.S. and across the world, on parenting in times of stress.

Speaking Topics

  • Issues That Give Parents Pause—How to Tackle Difficult Topics by Age
  • Taking a Step Back and Tempering Your Own Anxiety
  • Essential but Often Unplanned Conversations
  • Scary World Events—How to Talk to Your Kids About Violence, Climate Change, Social Justice, and Pandemics
  • The Role of Technology in Anxiety Among Kids


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