Dr. Gina Higgins is a psychologist and resilience researcher in private practice in Salem, MA. She has worked with individuals, couples, and families for more than thirty years. Her particular emphasis is on promoting psychological resilience in therapy.
After completing her undergraduate and Master's degrees at Tufts University, Dr. Higgins taught at Lesley University for several years as a faculty member in the Special Education and Counseling Psychology Departments. She also taught in the Eliot Pearson Child Study Department at Tufts, as well as The Harvard Graduate School of Education. She completed her doctorate at Harvard University.
Determined to balance work and family life, Dr. Higgins trained and became a staff psychologist at North Shore Children’s/Salem Hospital. She also advocated for a diverse group of special needs students in the school system through psychological and academic testing, and taught at two local community colleges.
While studying at Harvard, Dr. Higgins began her research on psychological resilience. Fascinated by those who ought to be criminal or crazy because of their terrible childhood experiences, yet who love and work and expect well as adults, she began studying “what went right." Anticipating the current field of positive psychology, she published Resilient Adults: Overcoming a Cruel Past in 1994. Her book has gradually made its way around the globe. Resilient Adults: Overcoming a Cruel Past is listed in 100 Top Bestsellers: Counseling.
More recently, her book was cited in a Wall Street Journal review by Naomi Duguid (Feb.2, 2017) of Emily Estafahani Smith's The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matters (2017). "The analysis that opens the book, and that structures the whole, is simple and elegant. It begins with a look at what gives meaning to life, the elements Ms. Smith calls 'the four pillars of meaning: belonging, purpose, storytelling, and transcendence...There's a chapter devoted to each of the four pillars...A chapter titled 'Growth' looks at resilience, including the science behind why some people are strengthened by adversity and how we learn from their stories. In general Ms. Smith might have improved her book with more vivid examples, but one example here she mentions is the case of a woman named Shibvon, whose tale is told in Resilient Adults (1996) by the psychologist Gina Higgins. Shibvon's childhood traumas included horrific verbal and sexual abuse inflicted and enabled by her mother, until age 10, when she was sent to an orphanage. Most women with that history would be shattered for life. Though Shibvon struggled with depression and anxiety in her teens, she survived to become a pediatric nurse, find a loving relationship and raise three children. One part of the explanation: At the orphanage she helped care for its babies and small children and was loved by them and needed. She also saw the the Catholic nuns as role models. Their care for the children gave her a purpose and the ambition to help others, which she realized by becoming a nurse. Those who are afflicted by grief or pain can be helped to move beyond it and in fact be strengthened by sharing their pain with others or by finding a larger perspective on their situation."
Highly experienced in both insight-oriented and cognitive-behavioral therapies, Dr. Higgins also has a strong background in the neurosciences as well as lifespan developmental psychology. She employs the tools for expanding psychological resilience in her clinical practice. Dr. Higgins recently completed a manuscript, Resilient Women: Hope in Action, based on her clinical work.
When clients need a medication evaluation, Dr. Higgins works closely with carefully vetted psychiatrists both on the North Shore and in Boston, especially Harvard Medical School. She maintains a highly screened referral network of talented professionals, since clients often need other forms of assistance with their financial, medical, legal, educational, neuropsychological, nutritional, and/or vocational concerns. . If she cannot help you with what you need, she will help you find a competent colleague who can.
Dr. Higgins was a fellow of The Clinical Developmental Institute in Belmont, MA, founded by colleagues at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She was also on the faculty of Harvard Medical School for many years, and maintains memberships in the Massachusetts Psychological Association, the American Psychological Association, and the National Register of Psychologists. She is accredited by the Better Business Bureau.
All photos on this site were taken by Dr. Gina Higgins (all rights reserved.)