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Article Published on: 03RD APR 2024 |

Dr. Barbara Koltuska-Haskin

Empowering Minds: The Transformative Odyssey of Dr. Barbara Koltuska-Haskin, From Warsaw to Wellness, Championing Mental Health Awareness and Advocacy

Dr. Barbara Koltuska-Haskin's journey from Warsaw to becoming a renowned neuropsychologist in Albuquerque embodies resilience and dedication. With over three decades of experience, she's navigated diverse roles, from serving as the sole neuropsychologist for entire regions to founding her private practice. Her commitment extends beyond clinical work to advocating for mental health awareness, empowering individuals to prioritize well-being. Through her unwavering dedication and innovative approach, Dr. Koltuska-Haskin has become a beacon of hope and inspiration, leaving an indelible mark on the field of neuropsychology and the broader landscape of mental health advocacy.

Unraveling Minds: The Resilient Journey of Dr. Barbara Koltuska-Haskin

Dr. Barbara Koltuska-Haskin's life story is a testament to resilience, innovation, and unwavering dedication in the field of neuropsychology. Born and raised in Warsaw, Poland, her early years were marked by a deep curiosity about the human mind and a drive to make a difference in the lives of others.

Despite facing adversity in her formative years, Dr. Koltuska-Haskin's determination to pursue her passion for psychology never wavered. She excelled academically, earning degrees in psychology and education, laying the foundation for her future endeavors.

In 1989, Dr. Koltuska-Haskin's journey took an exciting turn when she was awarded the prestigious AAUW International Fellowship, which enabled her to pursue postdoctoral training in neuropsychology at UCLA. This transformative experience broadened her horizons, exposing her to cutting-edge research and methodologies that would shape her career trajectory.

Upon completing her fellowship, Dr. Koltuska-Haskin embarked on a mission to address the pressing mental health needs in her community. She spent many years as a neuropsychologist at the New Mexico State Hospital, where she provided compassionate care to individuals grappling with brain trauma, mental illness, and addiction. Her tenure in this challenging environment honed her clinical skills and instilled in her a deep sense of empathy and understanding.

Driven by a desire to innovate and expand her impact, Dr. Koltuska-Haskin ventured into private practice in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 2003. Here, she established herself as a leading expert in neuropsychology, offering comprehensive and personalized care to her patients.

Beyond her clinical endeavours, Dr. Barbara Koltuska-Haskin emerges as a fervent advocate for mental health awareness and destigmatization. Her dedication extends to active involvement in public outreach initiatives and educational campaigns aimed at empowering individuals to prioritize their well-being and seek support when necessary. Through her passionate engagement in these efforts, Dr Koltuska-Haskin endeavours to dismantle barriers to mental health care, fostering a culture of openness and understanding surrounding mental illness. Dr. Koltuska-Haskin's journey embodies resilience, innovation, and unwavering dedication. Her commitment to understanding the human mind inspires colleagues and patients alike. By blending clinical expertise with advocacy, she elevates mental health care standards and serves as a beacon of hope. Dr. Koltuska-Haskin's legacy transcends her practice, leaving a lasting impact on mental health awareness and advocacy.

As a distinguished neuropsychologist, author, and advocate, Dr. Barbara Koltuska-Haskin continues to leave an indelible mark on the field of neuropsychology, transforming lives and shaping the future of mental health care. Her journey is a testament to the power of passion, perseverance, and compassion in creating positive change in the world.


Dr. Barbara Koltuska-Haskin is a name synonymous with excellence in the field of neuropsychology and a passionate advocate for brain health. With over three decades of clinical experience, a wealth of academic achievements, and a remarkable journey from her roots in Poland to becoming a respected figure in the United States, Dr. Koltuska-Haskin's career is as inspiring as it is impactful.

Born and raised in Warsaw, Poland, Dr. Koltuska-Haskin's academic journey commenced with a Bachelor of Education degree, where she graduated as valedictorian. Her thirst for knowledge led her to pursue a Master of Science degree in Clinical Psychology, followed by a doctorate in psychology/neuropsychology. Alongside her formal education, she embarked on extensive academic coursework in psychopharmacology, further enriching her expertise.

In 1989, Dr. Koltuska-Haskin's outstanding achievements were recognized when she was awarded the prestigious AAUW International Fellowship, granting her the opportunity to undergo postdoctoral training in neuropsychology at UCLA. This experience laid the foundation for her illustrious career in the United States.

Upon completing her fellowship, Dr. Koltuska-Haskin dedicated many years to serving as a neuropsychologist at the New Mexico State Hospital, where her role encompassed a broad spectrum of cases ranging from brain trauma to chronic mental illness and addiction. Her tenure in this challenging environment honed her skills and deepened her understanding of the complexities of the human brain.

Driven by a desire to make a difference beyond clinical practice, Dr. Koltuska-Haskin transitioned into roles that allowed her to contribute to the community on a broader scale. She served as a clinical director for a local nonprofit organization, leveraging her expertise to enhance mental health services for underserved populations.

In 2003, Dr. Koltuska-Haskin embarked on a new chapter in her career by establishing her private practice in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Here, she continues to provide comprehensive and compassionate care to her patients, drawing upon her vast experience and expertise in neuropsychology.

Beyond her clinical work, Dr. Koltuska-Haskin is a prolific author, with her book titled "How My Brain Works: A Guide to Understanding it Better and Keeping it Healthy" receiving widespread acclaim. The book, a culmination of her knowledge and insights, has garnered numerous awards, including international recognition for its invaluable contribution to the field of brain health.


Dr. Barbara Koltuska-Haskin's remarkable journey in the field of neuropsychology is driven by a profound motivation rooted in her unwavering curiosity about the human mind and a deep-seated commitment to improving lives. Her career trajectory is not just a series of professional milestones but a testament to her enduring passion for unravelling the mysteries of the brain and advocating for mental well-being. From her formative years in Warsaw, Poland, Dr Koltuska-Haskin exhibited an insatiable thirst for knowledge and a genuine interest in understanding the intricacies of human behaviour. This innate curiosity propelled her towards a path of academic excellence, where she pursued degrees in psychology and education, laying the groundwork for her future endeavours.

Driven by a desire to broaden her horizons and deepen her understanding of neuropsychology, Dr. Koltuska-Haskin seized the opportunity to pursue a postdoctoral fellowship at UCLA through the prestigious AAUW International Fellowship. This pivotal experience exposed her to cutting-edge research and advanced methodologies, fueling her passion for exploring the complexities of the brain.

Throughout her career, Dr. Koltuska-Haskin's motivation has been fueled by a profound sense of purpose – a dedication to making a tangible difference in the lives of her patients and the broader community. Her tenure at the New Mexico State Hospital, where she served as the sole neuropsychologist for an expansive region, exemplifies her commitment to addressing the diverse needs of individuals grappling with brain trauma, mental illness, and addiction.

Dr. Barbara Koltuska-Haskin's journey in neuropsychology is fueled by a profound curiosity about the human mind and a commitment to mental well-being. From her roots in Poland to prestigious postdoctoral training at UCLA, she's dedicated to making a difference. Through clinical work, advocacy, and her acclaimed book, "How My Brain Works," she demystifies neuroscience and promotes mental health awareness. Dr. Koltuska-Haskin serves as an inspiration, showcasing the transformative power of passion and purpose in understanding and improving mental health.


The book "How My Brain Works" by Dr. Barbara Koltuska-Haskin offers a wealth of valuable information to readers of diverse backgrounds. It provides a foundational understanding of the brain, practical advice for those worried about cognitive issues, and insights drawn from the author's extensive experience as a neuropsychologist. The book caters to a wide audience, including students with learning difficulties, individuals exploring various career paths, people affected by brain injuries or mental disorders, as well as the elderly at risk of dementia. Dr. Koltuska-Haskin's accessible language elucidates the benefits of her evaluation process across different scenarios, emphasizing how the results can be maximized for individual growth. Moreover, the book delves into strategies for enhancing and preserving optimal brain health, drawing from physical, psychological, nutritional, and spiritual domains. By amalgamating cutting-edge research with timeless knowledge, the author presents a comprehensive guide for leveraging one's cognitive abilities to lead fulfilling and successful lives.



  • Mar 14, 2023 - Dr. Koltuska's book ‘How My Brain Works’ was named one of DE MODE Magazine's "Unputdownable Books of 2023"

  • Jun 23, 2022 - "Yoga and The Brain" shared Dr. Koltuska's article for Psychology Today Magazine.

  • Mar 03, 2022 - How My Brain Works has been chosen as a finalist in the 2022 Eric Hoffer Awards in the DaVinci Eye category for its cover design.

  • Oct 01, 2021 - How My Brain Works" was a Finalist in the New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards.

  • Jun 30, 2021 - "How My Brain Works" was honoured as a finalist of the 2021 International Book Awards in the “Health: Psychology and Mental Health” category.


Q: As a Clinical Neuropsychologist with over three decades of experience, what initially drew you to the field of neuropsychology and what inspired your journey to become a doctor?

A. I was always fascinated with the brain, which is the most complex and most miraculous part of our body. I wanted to use my knowledge and experience to help my patients better understand their brain functioning and help them to improve and/or maintain their brain functioning. Much contemporary research proves that brain functioning can be improved at any age.

Q: Your academic journey is quite diverse encompassing psychology neuropsychology and education. How have these different disciplines shaped your approach to patient care?

A. As I mentioned before, the brain is a very complex part of our body, therefore; the more you know and are able to incorporate knowledge from many disciplines into the patient’s care, the better you can help your patients.

Q: You are also a classically trained mezzo-soprano. How your passion for music intersect with your work as a doctor and do these aspects influence each other.

A. Many years of studying music provides a person with a very specific sensitivity training, When you are studying a musical piece you want to perform, you need to try to understand and feel the emotions that specific piece of music contains. This helps you tremendously to be able to understand other person’s emotions and what they are going through.

Q: “How My Brain Works” provides insights into the intricacies of the human brain. What prompted you to share your expertise in neuropsychology with a broader audience through this book, and how do you believe it contributes to public understanding.

A. My patients have always been my greatest inspiration. They would frequently tell me “you know so much you need to write a book.” So here it is. Also, a lot of people have problems with brain functioning and do not know how to find the right help. I wanted to let people know that help is available in the community.

Q: Being born and raised in Warsaw, Poland and later becoming a US citizen, how have your diverse cultural experiences influenced your perspective as a doctor in the way you approach to patient care?

A. We have a very diverse population in our country. I frequently work with people coming from very different social and cultural background. Most of them really likes working with me. I think they believe that I may be able to understand a little better their social and cultural experiences. Some actually are telling me that.

Q: Can you share a memorable experience or case from your extensive career that had a profound impact on your understanding of brain functioning and patient’s interactions?

A. In my field of practice every patient is a story, so I have a lot of memorable patient’s experiences. Now I see the 3rd generation of my patients. The grandparents are bringing their grandchildren to my office for an evaluation, because they say they only trust me, so it is nice to hear.

Q: Your book emphasizes comprehensive and compassionate care. How do you integrate these principles into your practice and what advice do you have for other healthcare professionals aiming for a holistic approach.

A. Every patient is different because every brain and body is different. Hardly ever will you find a handbook case in your practice. In order to effectively help the patient, you need to listen and pay attention and try to figure out how this particular patient can be helped.

Q: As someone deeply connected to New Mexico’s environment, how does the region’s sunshine, nature and culture contribute to your personal and professional well-being.

A. I love New Mexico for its sunshine, beautiful nature and hospitality of the people. I always feel that I am “New Mexican in my heart.” I love walking New Mexico’s trails and interacting in this very diverse social and cultural environment.

Q: The high desert climate of New Mexico aligns with your passion for organic gardening. How does this hobby complement your work as a doctor and do you find any therapeutic aspect of it.

A. My practice is intense so gardening is a great therapy for me after a long day. I eat mostly out of my garden, do my own pickles, freeze my vegetables for winter and cook “heart warming soups” during cold days. I also love to meditate in my rose garden and under my apricot tree.

Q: How do you envision the future of healthcare, and are there specific areas of research or practice that you believe will become increasingly important in the coming years.

A. I think we will have more very specific diagnostic tools that will help more precisely diagnose brain problems and these diagnostic tools will be available for the general population, not only for research. Nowadays more doctors have a holistic approach to patient care and this is a very positive trend.

Q: Your role as a Clinical Director for a local nonprofit organization showcased your dedication to community well-being. How has this experience influence your perspective on healthcare accessibility and the importance of community engagement in promoting health?

A. The community well-being starts with our own well-being and helping each other. As I mentioned before, I believe that food is our medicine so I always share my garden goodies with my neighbors. Fresh garden produce really taste much better. And now all my neighbors have their own gardens and are able to eat fresh produce, which makes them healthier.

Q: As a doctor with a focus on neuropsychology, you bring a unique perspective to patient care. How do you approach the integration of traditional medical practices with psychological aspects, and how does this contribute to a more holistic understanding of health for your patients.

A. We are one, body, mind and spirit. In patient’s care you cannot just treat the body. You have to treat the patient with his/her unique mind, emotions and spiritual experiences. You have to pay attention to the whole person not just to the diseased body. Healing comes from within. In many cases, medications or other therapeutic approaches may not be very effective if the patient is not putting the body, mind and spirt into the healing mode. And the healthcare provider should be a compassionate guide in the healing process.




Dr. Koltuska, a renowned expert in brain health and nutrition, explores the impact of pets on cognitive function and emotional well-being in her latest Psychology Today blog post. Her engaging writing style has earned recognition from editors, with some posts deemed "essential reading" and one even featured on Google News, garnering over 50 thousand views on the official blog post - Drawing from scientific evidence and personal anecdotes, Dr. Koltuska highlights the diverse benefits of pet ownership, from stress reduction to improved mood and cognitive stimulation. In addition to her written contributions, she has shared her expertise through podcasts, including a recent interview with Los Angeles Talk Radio. Through her insightful work, Dr. Koltuska continues to empower readers to make informed choices for their mental and cognitive health. Explore more of her expertise at

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