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Dr. M

Margaret Robinson Rutherford Ph.D., a clinical psychologist with thirty years of experience, is also an author and podcaster. Her book, Perfectly Hidden Depression: How to Break Free from the Perfectionism That Masks Your Depression, has reached thousands here in the US, as well as having an international impact, with translations reaching from Korea to Italy, Turkey to Germany. Her highly popular podcast, The SelfWork Podcast, has been continuously rated as one of the best podcasts for mental health and depression.
📷: Jessica Whalen Films
Where do you call home in Northwest Arkansas? 

My husband and I live in Fayetteville and have been here since 1992.

Where did you relocate from? Tell us about the journey. 

My birthplace is Pine Bluff; we moved to Fayetteville from Dallas, TX, where I got my Ph.D. from The University of TX Southwestern Medical School.

When we first arrived, we were celebrating some kind of accomplishment of my husband’s while having a steak at the old OPO. I choked on a piece of steak and a waiter did the Heimlich on me, as the stubborn piece of stuck steak came popping out. The entire restaurant applauded. The next morning, I was out walking and someone who looked vaguely familiar said, “How are you?” I smiled and said, “Great thank you.” She smiled back but with a worried look, “No…how ARE you?”

I knew then I was back in a small town.

What are a few of your favorite spots in the region?

I’ve been involved with TheatreSquared since its literal inception and was honored to be their first Board President. We’re huge Razorback football fans, adore Artosphere, and the Rolling Pin is a must for almost every weekend.

Someone that has never been to the region is coming for 24 hours, what should they do, where should they go?

Try out the trail system in the morning. Coffee and breakfast at Arsaga’s At The Mill. Talk with people who might break whatever stereotype you have of an “Arkansan” and experience the friendliness of our people – first-hand. And don’t forget to get someone to teach you how to “Call them Hogs!” Head up to Crystal Bridges for sure – and then, find the pub of your choice around the Bentonville Square, enjoy a local brew, and see what’s going on at The Amp.

What do you do in your free time?

I love cooking and learning about food, fancy and not-so-fancy. And we travel when we can. Our son lives out in CA so we head out there as much as possible. Go walking with friends. I’m kind of a workaholic but that’s also because I love my work.

Tell us something about yourself folks might not know.

I was a jingle and jazz singer in my 20’s. And I’d still define myself as a musician.

What causes are you passionate about? What inspires you?

My work has been my passion for years; that began as being a therapist and helping people cope with trauma or emotional pain. For the last decade, I’ve also extended the walls of my practice as I created The SelfWork Podcast, which has an international audience. I’m inspired by people in my life who, at any age, stayed curious, involved, and active.

Describe the region in a few words.

Funky, friendly, forward-thinking.

What are you most proud of in your professional career? What have been the coolest experiences?

Any time a past client refers someone to me, I feel very honored. The “coolest” experiences have occurred in the last few years, with the publication of my book Perfectly Hidden Depression, (now translated into eight other languages) and my presenting a TEDxBocaRaton talk in May of 2023.

Any projects or initiatives you’re currently working on or planning to work on that you would like to tell us about?

I’m continuing to search for opportunities to speak about a dangerous kind of perfectionism that can act as camouflage for underlying despair, loneliness, and even suicidal thinking. So far, I’ve spoken to everyone from “normal folks” such as construction workers or venue management execs (whose suicide rates are very high) to mental health clinicians who can often “not see” or diagnose depression when someone presents as being in control but a little anxious. Suicide rates are skyrocketing. In fact, my bet is that most of us know of someone whose life looked “great,” but they died by suicide. We can change this by growing more transparent with each other about pain, even the deepest kind of pain.

What advice would you have for someone relocating here?

We knew absolutely no one except our real estate agent when we moved here. Getting involved in something other than work and home was very important for us to feel connected. The area has grown in diversity and opportunity, and if you throw yourself into some group whose mission excites you, it becomes a great way to get involved and make great relationships.

If you were to give the region a tagline, what would it be?

Open yourself to our beauty and then, create your own to share.

What is your hope for the future of the region?

I’m still waiting to see frog legs on someone’s menu. But seriously, my hope is that our individual value differences don’t overshadow our sense of community and trust with one another.

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