Dr. Gwen Finestone - Finding The Gems

Dr. Gwen Finestone


Gwen Finestone, MFT, Ph.D., CT, is President of California Southern University and has been recently nominated as a “Woman of Influence” via the Irvine Chamber for her contribution as an inspirational leader, role-model and advocate and mentor helping women in the workplace rise in leadership. She began her career working in trauma forty years ago as a co-founder of a rape crisis center, helping countless people work through their life traumas from childhood into adulthood. She specializes in grief, loss, trauma, and dissociative disorders. Her expert witness services are retained by attorneys in civil and criminal cases.

In her book, “Finding the Gems,” Gwen helps readers overcome major life trauma and loss and teaches them to lead a happy and positive life without letting their tragedies define them. She blends psychology, spirituality, humanism, meaning and purpose to help readers free themselves from the pain of their losses.Throughout her career Gwen has often been asked by her patients: “Why did that happen to me?” “Why isn’t life more joyful?” “Why can’t I have what others seem to have so effortlessly?” “Why do I feel stuck?” “Why didn’t my previous therapy help?” “Was I born only to suffer?” “Where was God when this was happening?” “What is spirituality?” “How can I let go of my grief?”

Gwen shares that even if your most significant losses or traumas occurred as an adult, lessons learned in childhood will inform your interpretation of adult experiences.Personalizing the work of the great Viennese psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl, she blends psychology, spirituality, humanism, meaning and purpose. She argues that finding the meaning in painful experiences is what can free each one of us to be who we want to be. Each chapter is introduced by a quote and concludes with a spiritual lesson that will help you find the gems in painful memories and experiences. It’s been so wonderful to connect with Gwen and learn more about her work and her journey, and I’m so excited for you guys to connect with her and follow along!

I'd love it if you'd introduce yourself, what you do, and what you're working on.

My name is Dr. Gwen Finestone, MFT, Ph.D, CT and I am a family therapist and interfaith pastoral counselor, as well as an expert on loss, trauma, and grief. For the past year, I have served as President of California Southern University. In my capacity as president, I’ve moved the university in a new direction by creating employee opportunities and professional development plans, encouraging diversity, developing the university’s global presence, and increasing community involvement and philanthropy. Over the past year, I have overseen the development of the Hecht Trauma Institute, the Finestone Leadership Institute, and the Global Perspective Institute. 

How did you get started?

It was my own personal trauma and search for meaning that helped me find joy and led me toward the path of helping others. Finding the joy in my own life transformed my existence from an unending slog through misery into a wonderful adventure. The search for meaning in my life has been of utmost importance and through introspection, I have been able to not only come to terms with my own losses but also use my experiences to help others. 

What inspired the work that you're doing?

As a child, my home was a living hell. My mother and her boyfriend were abusive, and it was a childhood devoid of warmth or kindness. However, I recognize that this adversity helped shape me into the woman I am today. It was my own search for meaning and struggle to heal that awakened in me the desire to help others heal and fulfil their full potential. 

What is your biggest passion? Do you feel like you're living your passion and purpose?

My greatest passion is empowering others. I am blessed to say that I am living my passion and purpose. My life’s work is the empowerment of others, not only helping them heal, but also inspiring them to thrive.

What is your joy blueprint? What lights you up, brings you joy, and makes you feel the most alive?

My joy blueprint is making a difference in the lives of others, through encouragement, direction, and mentorship. Being in nature lights me up, brings me joy, and makes me feel most alive. Nature allows me to transcend the mundane and helps connect me with my higher self. My connection with nature allows my soul to thrive and whisper to me in life’s quiet moments as well as rise over the din of the everyday world. Being loved also makes me feel alive and fuels my passion to continue my life’s work.

How do you live intentionally? Are there tools/resources/practices that you rely on to help you stay mindful and grounded?

As Annie Dillard said, “How we spend our days, is of course how we spend our lives.” To me, these words serve as an excellent reminder that every day is a thread that weaves the fabric of our lives. Each thread is just as important as the next in creating the life we imagine. These words help me live intentionally. As Victor Frankl wrote: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

What would your younger self think about what you're doing now?

My younger self would be happy that I transcended the pain of my past and discovered my own strength and ability to help and empower others. My younger self would be surprised and humbled at the meaningful, fulfilling, and joyful life I live today. My younger self would be proud of my success today, and the fact that I chose to define myself as a survivor and a thriver.

Do you have a go-to mantra or affirmation?

My go-to affirmation is “Each day is another opportunity to do the right thing for the right reason.” 

What is your biggest dream?

My biggest dream is to continue my life’s work of empowering and inspiring others. I’m also a lifelong learner, and the knowledge that there is much that I have yet to understand helps me stay mindful, grounded, and forward-thinking. 

To learn more about Gwen you can connect with her on her website http://www.drgwenfinestone.com and on Twitter @finestonegwen Facebook @dr.finestone and you can find her new book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble



Joy Corner is a new interview-style blog series brought to you by Seek The Joy Podcast. Our mission continues to be a desire to share your stories, truths, joys and inspiration in your words. We invite you to join our corner, and share your joys, passions, and moments of inspiration as we continue to seek the joy, together. Join this series here

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