Hey Lazarus, What About Finances?

Posted by on September 7, 2009 in Financial Therapy | 0 comments

In graduate school (the second time – getting my Masters in Psychology), I was introduced to concept of the BASIC ID — Lazarus’ model for case conceptualization, which assesses behavior, affect, sensation, imagery, cognition, interpersonal relationships, and the use of drugs.

After a review, the professor asked if anyone could identify an area that Lazarus had left out. Well, as a Certified Public Accountant who had only recently learned that affect is not only a verb, I was in information-absorption mode. A few days later, when I had some time to reflect on my professor’s question, I realized that two important areas had indeed been left out. The BASIC ID model did not assess the matter of ones finances or spirituality. The BASIC ID needed to be the BASIC FIDS.

The spiritual aspect I will table for now, as gratefully, our field and many others are gaining a greater appreciation of the role of spirituality in recovery and healing. But what about finances? Money has been called “the last taboo,” and most counselors are more comfortable assessing a client’s sex life than they are their client’s financial situation. As a result, issues such as compulsive shopping, financial infidelity, compensatory spending, etc. are often missed.

One of the reasons some counselors do not assess a client’s financial health is a lack of comfort with financial matters. Another barrier is their comfort in asking such questions of their clients. Is it any of my business? How might the client respond? Do I have a right to inquire of such things? What do I do if I do identify a problem area?

All of these are valid questions, which counselors could benefit from exploring – and they’ll likely be commented on in future posts. But for now – for those wanting to start the process of assessing financial health – as a dimension of overall health – here are three basic inquiries with which you may begin…

How have your finances been impacted by _____ (the presenting problem)? And vice versa?

To what extent is your financial status a source of stress?

How would you describe your relationship with money? (or What role does money play in your life?)

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