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Dr. Ruth Westheimer

Popular American Sex Therapist, Known for "Sexually Speaking"

Dr. Ruth Westheimer is a psychosexual therapist who helped to pioneer the field of media psychology with her radio program, Sexually Speaking. It began in September of 1980 as a fifteen minute, taped show that aired Sundays after midnight on WYNY-FM (NBC) in New York. One year later it became a live, one-hour show airing…

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Dr. Ruth Westheimer is a psychosexual therapist who helped to pioneer the field of media psychology with her radio program, Sexually Speaking. It began in September of 1980 as a fifteen minute, taped show that aired Sundays after midnight on WYNY-FM (NBC) in New York. One year later it became a live, one-hour show airing at 10 PM on which Dr. Ruth, as she became known, answered call-in questions from listeners.

Soon it became part of a communications network to distribute Westheimer’s expertise which includes television, books, newspapers, games, home video, computer software and a website.

Born in Germany in 1928, Westheimer was sent to a school in Switzerland at the age of ten which became an orphanage for most of the German Jewish students who had been sent there to escape the Holocaust. At 16 she went to Israel where she fought for that country’s independence as a member of the Haganah, the Jewish freedom fighters. She then moved to Paris where she studied at the Sorbonne and taught kindergarten. She immigrated to the U.S. in 1956 where she obtained her Masters Degree in Sociology from the Graduate Faculty of the New School of Social Research. In 1970, she received a Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) in the Interdisciplinary Study of the Family from Columbia University Teacher’s College.

She worked for Planned Parenthood for a time and it was that experience that prompted her to further her education in human sexuality by studying under Dr. Helen Singer Kaplan at New York Hospital-Cornell University Medical Center. She later participated in the program for five years as an Adjunct Associate Professor. She has also taught at Lehman College, Brooklyn College, Adelphi University, Columbia University and West Point.

Currently Westheimer is an Adjunct Professor at N.Y.U. She is a fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine and in addition to having her own private practice, Westheimer also leads regular seminars for residents and interns in pediatrics on adolescent sexuality at Brookdale Hospital which is affiliated with Downstate Medical Center. She frequently lectures at universities across the country and has twice been named “College Lecturer of the Year.”

During her days as a college professor, Westheimer never envisaged that one day she would be making such wide use of the mass media to help spread what she has labeled “sexual literacy.” However, with her unique style, she has been able to communicate effectively through almost every avenue available. In addition to radio, her television career has spanned both broadcast and cable. Her first TV show aired locally in New York but she soon went national on Lifetime’s The Dr. Ruth Show. Ask Dr. Ruth was syndicated both nationally and internationally so that she became a regular in such places as London and Hong Kong as well as America. The All New Dr. Ruth Show brought her back to Lifetime and with What’s Up, Dr. Ruth she helped broaden Lifetime’s appeal with teens. You’re On The Air with Dr. Ruth brought her back to the form she began with on television with both guests and live phone calls.

In print she circles the globe with her column, “Ask Dr. Ruth,” syndicated by King Features. She is the author of thirty-one books, the most recent of which is 2007′s The Olive and the Tree: The Secret Strength of the Druze, published by Lantern Books (co-authored with Gil Sedan).

The National Mother’s Day Committee honored Westheimer as “Mother Of The Year” and she received a Liberty Medal from the City of New York. She has been nominated for an Ace Award by the cable industry on five occasions and her program, The All New Dr. Ruth Show won an Ace Award in 1988 for excellence in cable television.

In June of 2006, Columbia University’s Teacher’s College awarded her their Medal For Distinguished Services. She is a board member of the Museum of Jewish Heritage: A Living Memorial to the Holocaust.

Dr. Westheimer has two children, four grandchildren and resides in New York City.

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    Sexually Speaking

    The Value of Family

    An Evening with Dr. Ruth

    Sex and Morality: Who Is Teaching Our Sex Standards

    Human Sexuality: A Psychosocial Perspective

    Dr. Ruth’s Guide to College Life

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    One to One: Dr. Ruth Westheimer

    Dr Ruth Westheimer at the 2014 National Sex Ed Conference

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