Financial Therapy

Financial Therapy 101: Managing Money Scripts (part 1)

Posted by on June 1, 2010 in Financial Therapy, Skills Building | 0 comments

By now, I hope you have created a list your money scripts. (If not, please start with the first entries in this series … 1, 2, 3.). Perhaps you are even continuing to add to your list as you discover new ones. Great! Let’s start working on them.

Look over your list. What themes do you notice? Patterns? Repeats? The most frequent? Most annoying? Any of these could be a good place to start.

Pick one script and walk through the same restructuring process I introduced in the Taking out the Mental Trash series. Let’s give one a go together for practice …

Just for fun, we can use one of mine…

1. Give an example of a distressing thought you had during the past few days.

Context: In order to launch Vineyard Counseling, there were a lot of expenses involved. Furniture, lease, business license, insurance, supplies, and the list went on and on.  While building my client base, I worked some from home, so the idea of a laptop was appealing.

My automatic thought was “You have to spend money to make money.” (While this wasn’t necessarily a distressing thought, I did recognize that I needed to examine it, so this process is still useful.)

2. Review the list of thinking error types and identify the errors in your thoughts.

“have to” is a “should” in disguise

3. Is this thought true? What is the evidence that this thought is true?

Some times, but not always. I could not legally start the practice without certain expenses, such as a business license. I could not expect clients to find me without spending money on marketing. I would not function well without a computer, but I had a desktop at home and a desktop at the office, so a laptop was not a necessity. Conclusion: In this case, I did not have to spend money on a laptop in order to make money.

4. To what extent is this thought true (e.g., some times, occasionally, often)? Look out for words like always and never.

There was an unstated or implied “never” (as in “You can never make money without spending money.”)

5. Check for emotionally charged words, such as labels (e.g., stupid, jerk, devastating, horrible). Maintain perspective.

Nothing obvious here.

6. Realistically consider the worst case scenario – briefly. If the thought is true, how will you survive, cope, and overcome the situation?

Obviously, I could function without a laptop, as I did have a desktop.

7. Talk to yourself compassionately. Note the positive.

I can reconsider this decision later.

8. Based on your work above, create a substitute thought that is accurate, realistic, and maintains perspective.

While it would be nice to have a laptop, it is not a necessity at this time. Later, once the practice grows, I will reevaluate and may purchase a laptop at that time. (Side note: I’m happy to share that the laptop soon became a practical option, and I’ve been enjoying the investment ever since!)

Now, try one from your own experiences.

In the next entry, I’ll show you one more tool for managing your Money Scripts.

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Financial Therapy 101: Money Scripts (part 2)

Posted by on April 27, 2010 in Financial Therapy, Skills Building | 0 comments

Step 1: Identify your Money Scripts

Money Scripts are the automatic thoughts we have in regards to money.

Here’s another exercise to help you “stir the pot” and continue to gather evidence as to what your relationship with money is like. (Remember: “Money” refers to all types of financial / material means.)

Exercise 3: Sentence Completion (Remember not to filter or judge; just write down what comes to mind.)

Wealthy people …

The poor are poor because…

Parents owe their children …

Financially, I deserve to …

I believe that giving …

One should never spend money for …

One should always spend money for …

Debt is …

The difference between the rich and the poor is …

Things would have been alright if I had never …

The relationship between God and money is …

The difference between love and money is …

The dumbest thing someone can do with money is …

Because I … I will never …

When I was little, I was told that money …

The wisest thing someone can do with money is …

Financial freedom is …

You can count on money to …

Never trust money to …

Being rich means …

I will always be able to …

Money should be …

It’s likely that this exercise will bring to mind other Money Scripts. Continue to write these down as they come to you. The more you know about your current relationship with money, the better equipped you’ll be to begin reshaping it into something more desirable.

Next week, we’ll begin walking through a process of examining the Scripts you’ve identified. Stay tuned!

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Financial Therapy 101: Money Scripts

Posted by on April 17, 2010 in Financial Therapy, Skills Building | 0 comments

We cannot change a reality we deny exists, so if you want to enhance your relationship with money, you must first know what it presently is. In this and the next post, I’ll introduce you to simple exercises you can use to “stir the pot” and begin to gather evidence as to what your relationship with money is like. (Remember: “Money” refers to all types of financial / material means.)

Step 1: Identify your Money Scripts

Money Scripts are the automatic thoughts we have in regards to money.

Exercise 1: Brainstorming

Take out a blank sheet of paper. Read through the following list – one item at a time – and consider how each relates to money. Write down whatever pops into your mind.

Don’t filter! Don’t judge! Don’t rationalize!

The key to brainstorming is to let the thoughts flow freely and easily. There will be time later to consider what you have written down.

Give yourself 15-30 seconds with each word, then move on to the next. Remember, there is no right or wrong answer – simply write down what first comes to mind.

Wealth

Happiness

Success

Debt

Family

Obligations

Work

Taxes

Saving

Pain

Values

Trust

Luck

Spending

Children

Bankruptcy

Harmony

Conflict

Regret

Shopping

Rights

Poverty

Inheritance

Giving

Fantasy

Honesty

God

If there are other words you’d like to brainstorm, go for it! Add them to your list. This exercise will help you practice noticing your thoughts.

Exercise 2: Real-time Tracking

Over the next week, keep an ongoing log of your thoughts regarding money. While you’re in a store, paying bills, considering your work, parenting children, chatting with friends, day dreaming … what are your Money Scripts? Write these down.

Remember, this isn’t a matter of “good” or “bad” – it is what it is. Each script is evidence of the experiences that have shaped your relationship with money into what it is today. They are grist for the mill of enhancing your relationship with money.

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Financial Therapy 101

Posted by on April 6, 2010 in Financial Therapy | 1 comment

First, a little background ….

I started out my professional life as a CPA working in the field of wealth management. Through that work, I realized that we each have a relationship with money – and this relationship drives not only our financial choices but also our day-to-day life choices. It is like a mirror to our relationships with other people as well as “things” such as work, health, recreation, financial assets, and material possessions.

All too frequently, I observed that a client’s relationship with money robbed him/ her of their desired relationships with family or friends, of work-life balance, or of peace of mind. I wanted to refer them to someone for assistance, but could not find anyone to whom to refer. Over time, I realized that I was being called to meet this need – to help others enhance their relationships with money so that they could lead more authentic and fulfilling lives. This is the aim of Financial Therapy.

Through Financial Therapy, clients learn about their current relationship with money. Some times they learn how it became what it is, but more importantly, they develop the tools with which to redefine the relationship.

Since financial distress strongly contributes to depression, anxiety, relationship issues, and a host of other problems, developing a healthy relationship with money can enhance all areas of life – physical, mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual. And that is why I am so passionate about Financial Therapy.

Over the next few weeks, I will be introducing you to some of the basic tools utilized in Financial Therapy. I encourage you to embrace these and let them work for you. If you find you cannot do it on your own, please let me know how I can help.

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Taking Out the “Mental Trash” – It’s Better Than a New Knee

Posted by on January 24, 2010 in Financial Therapy, Musings | 0 comments

See if you can top this … My Dad got a new knee for Christmas.

The old one had been bothering him for years. For several years, over-the-counter meds and strengthening exercises helped and enabled him to delay surgery. Then he tried injections of a lubricant gel that is derived from chicken combs. And this, too, provided some relief and delay. But eventually, he could no longer postpone the inevitable. It was time for a knee upgrade – to “Knee 2.0.” Knee 2.0 is a stainless steel replacement that will, after rehabilitation, allow him to walk in comfort for decades to come.

I saw my Dad a few weeks ago, just after the 28 post-operative staples were removed. He was walking with the assistance of one crutch, yet there was a gleam in his eye that said the pain of the process was worth it, and he eagerly anticipates the renewed sense of freedom he will have thanks to the knee pain being vanquished.

This tangible truth is mirrored in the intangible world. Sometimes we carry thought patterns with us long after they have exceeded their useful life.

Once upon a time, they may have worked for us. They may have even helped us survive. But in our present circumstances, they are no longer necessary or desirable.

Let me start with a simplistic example. “Don’t talk to strangers.” Did you hear that one as a child? Indeed, at certain points in life, such directives may have kept us safe. But as an adult, do you still let that shape your daily interactions? Probably not. So why is it that other messages seem to stick, even though they’re just as out-dated?

How about this one – “You will never amount to anything.”

Even as we transition into adulthood, gain more influence over our world and our choices, some messages stay ingrained in us. So much so, that we never stop to question if they are true, accurate, or applicable. They can be like white-noise – stealthfully shaping our day-to-day decisions without even registering at a conscious level.

Sometimes we can get by for a time – despite their presence. But how much freer might we live if we were able to discard these worn-out lies for something more suiting – something true and life-giving?

Just like my Dad’s knee surgery, this is a process, and it may involve pain. But in the end, you can be set free.

The first step is to become aware of your inner dialogue. For some, these thoughts are like Old Faithful. When we get tired, stressed, angry, or lonely, we know what’s going to pop up. Others aren’t as obvious. So become an investigator. When you feel dis-ease whirling around inside of you – take a seat and observe your thoughts. Listen for old worn out messages and write them down.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll walk you through the process of challenging distorted, worn-out, painful thoughts and lies. I hope you’ll join me for the journey.

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Financial Empowerment Retreat for Women

Posted by on January 16, 2010 in Financial Planning, Financial Therapy | 0 comments

Happy New Year!

We all know that 2009 was a financially challenging year. As with all challenges, some good has resulted from the trial. I’ve noticed that more people are now motivated to get a handle on their personal finances, to make wiser decisions, and to choose options that are in line with their values and priorities.

Paul Lemon, CPA/PFS, CFP(R) and I are teaming up to offer an amazingly priced Financial Empowerment Retreat for Women in Durango, Colorado Feb. 4 – 7. ($395, which includes accommodations and meals!) It’s our way of helping folks learn how to better manage their lives by managing their finances. We kept the cost low so that those who want to attend can afford to attend.

We’ll cover the practical how-to’s of personal finance and explore and enhance our relationships with money – so that we not only know what to do, but are also equipped to be able to do it.

Please go to http://tinyurl.com/empowermentretreat to learn more and pass this along to others who could benefit from this exciting opportunity.

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The Secret Language of Money

Posted by on November 13, 2009 in Financial Therapy, Readings | 0 comments

I recently began reading “The Secret Language of Money” by Dr. David Krueger, a former practitioner and teacher of psychiatry and psychoanalysis who is now CEO of MentorPath, an executive coaching practice. David’s book draws from his experiences in more than three decades of practice and an expanding field of research. He has a gift with words and crafts powerful one liners, which artfully encapsulate the message and powerfully drive it home. Here are some of my favorites so far …

“If money were about math, none of us would be carrying any debt.”

“Money is a magnifier. Like adversity, it reveals and exaggerates character. … But it doesn’t simply magnify who we are; it also amplifies who we hope to be, fear we might have become, or regret that we may never be. It gives form to our fantasies and shape to our compulsions. We don’t simply earn, save, and spend money: we woo it, flirt with it, crave it and scorn it, punish and reward ourselves with it.”

“It is not wealth and possessions or even the chase after these that creates problems in our lives; it is when we lose ourselves in the chase. And when do we lose ourselves? When we imbue money with meaning it doesn’t really have, and then keep that meaning a secret even from ourselves – thus holding ourselves hostage to our own money story without even realizing we were the ones who made it up in the first place.”

… and this covers only the Introduction to the book! Stay tuned as I continue to share gems discovered in “The Secret Language of Money.”

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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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As Prevalent as Depression

Posted by on August 18, 2009 in Financial Therapy, Readings | 0 comments

Did you know that compulsive buying is about as prevalent as depression??? Well, it is.

The World Health Organization estimates the prevalence of depression among US adults to be 6.7%. According to a study conducted by Stanford University, 5.8% of US adults suffer from “problematic and uncontrolled buying behaviors.”

So why don’t we hear more about compulsive buying? Is “retail therapy” so normalized that we turn a blind eye to the havoc it can wreak on marriages and families, the contribution it makes to bankruptcy filings, the illegal activity it can promote, and the emotional strain it causes???

It’s difficult to watch TV or read a magazine without seeing an ad for an antidepressant medication. It’s impossible to watch TV or look at a magazine without being bombarded with highly sophisticated marketing, which is designed to make us want to buy, buy, buy. And yet there’s a stigma associated with discussing someone’s spending habits or proposing their spending may be out of hand.

How many friends or family members do you know who are on an antidepressant? Based on this estimate, how many people might you know who are privately struggling with compulsive buying? Perhaps they could use some “retail therapy” therapy.

What are your thoughts???

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