When Insurance Is Not Helpful

You might be wondering why I don’t take insurance.  It’s a question I get a lot.  

Value of Therapy

Most of our financial situations aren’t a simple matter of money-in and money-out.  We all spend our money based on what we value.  And for things we value, we are willing to spend the money.  

My clients find value in the service I provide.  Many of them began working with me when I was in-network with insurance and they’ve opted to stay.  My clients find a connection with me and feel that they have made progress in their lives as a result.  

What are the things that you value enough to pay a little more for them?  Maybe you value a great cup of coffee.  It might be less expensive to hit the chain with the drive-thru.  But you get a smooth infusion of caffeine from the place down the street where the guy roasts his own beans.  This cup of joe might cost a couple bucks more, but you love the coffee and you like the guy that owns the place, too.  It’s hard to drink drive-thru coffee after that.  

Resolving your emotional life is not coffee, though.  The issues you bring into therapy are interfere in how you live your life.  They might be causing you constant conflict with your spouse or trouble meeting your goals at work.  You might be so paralyzed by anxiety and depression that getting out of bed or falling asleep is a problem for you every single day.  You can’t keep going like that.  Coming to sessions is not a casual encounter.  Everything we discuss has a purpose and can have a major impact on your life.  

I want you to know that I value this work, too.  I wouldn’t do it otherwise.  Personally, I have experienced the transformational nature in my own life.  And I value it enough that I invest time and money in post-graduate training and consultation with trusted colleagues about how best to serve my clients.

 

Insurance companies dictate what we do 

When we as therapists are on insurance panels, much of how we serve you is governed by them.  They frequently dictate the type of therapy we might do with you and it doesn’t matter to them whether it’s a good fit for you or not.  They tell us how long our sessions can be and to me, that’s baloney.  

Typically, we would meet for a 45 or 60-minute session and we might either make that decision together or I use my clinical judgment about what might work best.  One of the major health insurance companies refuses to pay for anything more than a 45-minute session.  This is something I have a real problem with.  Because they don’t know you.  

Insurance companies have rules about taking in-network clients with no consideration as to whether a therapist has any experience dealing with specific issues.  For example, you want the shoulder specialist to operate on your shoulder and not the ankle specialist.  In the same way, you wouldn’t want a therapist with zero experience with infidelity, for example, taking care of you, if that’s what you need help with.  There are some issues that I don’t feel skilled enough to work with.  My practice is focused on specific concerns because I have experience helping people with those issues.  

You’ve also likely heard from other providers – like your chiropractor or other healthcare specialist – that what insurance pays does not adequately compensate providers for the level of education and experience required to execute the work with excellence.  For some providers, their schedules are so packed that even finding time to write their notes, go to the bathroom, or seek consultation from other professionals is impossible.  The reason they are so booked is because they need to see twice as many clients as they should to make ends meet.

Seeing a comfortable and realistic amount of clients per week allows me to focus only on you.  The time you and I spend together in session, your concerns are the only thing on my mind.  I work to provide the best service for you because you aren’t just a random alpha-numeric code on an insurance card.  

Privacy

Bypassing health insurance for therapy also minimizes the access a company has to your private information.  Occasionally, an insurance company might choose you at random and call me requesting notes on you.  The terms of your policy allow them to have access to this information in order to continue paying for it.  Sometimes, these are a matter of auditing whether the therapist is continuing to play by the insurance’s rules, but they also have the authority to pull the plug on your treatment.  This is another thing I have a real problem with.  I understand that they are also a business and invested in their bottom line.  But it minimizes the complicated layers of your emotional life.  

Out-of-Network Benefits

This little tidbit doesn’t have to do with my beef (or whatever the plural of “beef” is) with insurance companies.  But in some cases, clients find that their out-of-network benefits help defray the cost of therapy.  What this means is, if you have these benefits, you would pay for our sessions, and I would provide you with a bill.  

I hope that I’ve answered some of your questions about why I’ve decided to leave insurance panels.  It’s a rough decision for a provider to make and it’s also a challenging one for clients, too.  

If you are interested in working with me, you can reach me by email at christine@snyderlcsw.com or at 201-248-5552.  

Texting Is Not Really Great Communication

Texting has been a thing for maybe fifteen or so years. If you’re 30, you’ve been texting since you were in high school. You might not remember what life was like before. When you could ask someone a question and get an answer without waiting for those little moving dots to resolve. Or when you could see the face of the person when you cracked a joke or expressed your anger. Or when you had to coerce your mom into calling for a pizza.

Because I’m considerably over 30, my experience with texting is a little different from that of a younger person. In high school when social lives begin to evolve, we had to call someone on the phone, now known as a landline, and leave a message on an answering machine. If we were expecting someone to pick us up, we might actually stand out on the porch waiting for them until they showed up. My first experience with texting was as a late 30-something, communicating with a friend who happens to love new technology. I soon graduated to a Blackberry and since then, I’ve been a a somewhat heavy phone user. I love being sociable and chatting with people all over the place or just randomly texting to tell someone they’re on my mind.

We’ve all morphed with the technology as time has gone by. We write almost no letters, send almost no cards. Nor do we even send those e-birthday cards anymore with the low-tech graphics. We all didn’t realize in the moment how our communication with other humans was evolving. But if we make the leap to what we were doing, say, fifteen years ago, we’d notice a major shift.

I remember around 2006 or so, entertainment shows were losing their minds that Britney Spears broke up with K-Fed via text message. Because the details were foggy of even which celebrity it was who did this, I googled it. An ABC News story refers to it as “the text message heard round the world”. Britney Spears was being treated as if she had pressed a button somewhere and unleashed a massive bomb that blew away a planet. (For what it’s worth, I still haven’t seen the Britney documentary so if this story is mentioned in there and I’ve mischaracterized it, it’s due to my own ignorance.)

The outrage! The horrors!!! And then the sanctimonious “I WOULD NEVER DO SUCH A THING!”

To which I sort of cock my head. Really?

You may not have broken up a relationship via text message. But – and maybe not you specifically – a lot of things are happening via text message (oh, and social media, too! But let’s just stay with the phone.) that used to happen in person. Or on a telephone call.

Here we are in 2021. My first text message might have been sent around 2006 or 2007. At that point, there were likely people using text messages for years before I did. Have you ever considered how your texting has changed?

Most people early on were still click-click-clicking on each number to select each individual letter of each word. I bet our early texts were less verbose than they are now. Maybe they were mostly about logistical sorts of things. “Can you pick up milk?” “Be home in 5.” “Can’t wait to see you!”

Smartphones and the way we connect with others has changed significantly. We used to send brief messages, but now we can send paragraphs of text.

While I’m not the most tech-savvy person, I like technology. Using phones and social media has both made our lives easier and helped us connect with people all over the world. All your long-lost relatives can see your pictures now and you can find old high school friends or friends from old jobs if you want. It’s up to you how much or how little you want to connect or reveal.

But just going back to the texting aspect of phones. Where the slippery slope is in our “always on” usage is that the intimacy level of our contact with others can take a hit.

So, on that note, again…ask yourself that same question I asked above: Have you ever considered how your texting has changed? What sorts of things are you texting about in 2021 that you weren’t in 2011 or 2006?

The fact that we now have an “out” if we need to say something important might cause us to avoid the hard conversations. People aren’t only having the “can you pick up the girls from soccer practice” conversations. They’re texting siblings about their aging parents, or having arguments with partners, or having previously innocuous chats with one of the dads or moms at the school.

When a client said they talked with so-and-so in their life, sometimes I ask what they mean by “talked with”. Talking used to allow us to be seated at a table across from each other, or beside each other in the car or on the couch. But now it means our fingers are typing to another person. One who cannot hear our voice, see us rolling our eyes, or hear us breathing.

Perhaps the eye contact and the sound of someone’s voice or hearing someone take a long, deep breath as they converse with you are exactly what we are trying to avoid by using texting as a way to communicate. Somehow we think it’s easier. Yes, it might be. But what are we missing out on? What are we depriving the person on the other end of?

If you’re someone who has discomfort engaging in difficult conversations, like breaking up with someone, texting is a best case scenario. It’s sterile and you can stop responding at any time. You can even shut your phone off altogether. A cell phone is your dream come true because you don’t have to look into the eyes of someone who is breaking your heart right now. Or having their heart broken by you.

What exactly is your fear?

Has our dependence on texting caused us to more fully separate the emotion from the conversation? Our progression of using devices causes me to think about how something gets pulled into the current at the shore. The pull going out is stronger than the one going in. So over the course of five or fifteen years, we are more deeply pulled away from experiencing our own emotions in relationship with another person.

So what do we do?

Well, because of the way I practice as a clinician, what helps one person isn’t going to help another. Your life is unique and you’ve arrived at this point governed by many influences and forces. But perhaps I’d consider asking you – do you want to work on improving your emotional experience? Some people say a resounding YES, while others say, meh, I’m just fine the way I am (and then continue to break people’s hearts via text message…).

Making improvements involves getting curious about how we got here. I do see that collectively, most of us have likely grown more reliant on our phones to carry out all sorts of business – emotional and otherwise. So in that respect, we have all felt the pull of the current. But how comfortable are you with your own self and with your own emotions? If you wanted to be the kind of person who stopped breaking people’s hearts via text message, I might ask you how you got here. It might then evolve into discussions about how your emotions were handled by the early caregivers in your life. How difficult has it been for you to encounter another person in an emotional conversation? Did you feel supported? Anxious? Humiliated? Answers to some of these questions might help someone better understand their behavior.

A simple blog post might not turn your whole life around, but if it helps you gain an awareness of how much – or how little – you conduct your emotional business with a phone as your buffer, maybe my work here is done.

If you’re interested in seeing if therapy could help you open up your emotional experience, please reach out. I continue to provide virtual therapy to residents of New Jersey and have some limited openings in-person in my Livingston office. You can reach my at cmgsnyder@gmail.com.

Fantasy in the Time of Covid

Fantasy is a normal function of our mind.

Do you feel better now?

It’s no secret that everyone’s brain is working overtime these days.  Even before covid hit last year, we were all exhausted.   And now, we have taken exhaustion to a whole new level.

The stuff you are responsible for now include some of the following:

  • Helping your school-age children navigate school online
  • Adapting to living with college-age children again after they were away at school
  • Performing your own work remotely
  • Caring for aging relatives either in your home or elsewhere
  • Managing life apart from friends and loved ones

Humans are pretty good at adapting to all sorts of things.  Notice I didn’t say that we like adapting to them though.  Especially in the beginning of all this, many people reported that they were experiencing more vivid dreams.  Some of the dreams made even less sense than usual.

It is another piece of the mysterious human brain that’s fascinating.  That this weird looking organ inside our skull can affect us so much is mind-blowing.

Dreams typically happen while we are sleeping and we have little control over them.  There’s a whole complicated world of how dreams operate in the unconscious mind.  And they can be rich to discuss because our unconscious works out stuff while we are in a sleep state.

Fantasies are somewhat related, but they happen while we are awake.  And depending on how we respond, we have some control over how a fantasy plays out.

The idea of “fantasy” also has a sexual connotation, but all fantasies are not sexual.  The types of theories a therapist subscribes to (also known as our theoretical orientation) influence the nuances of our definition of fantasy.  For our purposes, I’m going to be loose with how I discuss it here.  Basically, I’m saying that anything in our imagination can be considered fantasy.

I think there could be a distinction between one’s thoughts simply wandering aimlessly – remembering an event, like a vacation or time spent with a friend – and a fantasy that plays out like a story that you are building on as you go.

Both of these types of fantasy can feel uncomfortable or maybe unpleasant.  But they can also feel satisfying and fun.

Like the sort of fantasy you have about ditching work, hopping in the car, and taking a day trip somewhere.  That seems pretty pleasant.  I’m going to also acknowledge that some of the frightening thoughts we have can also fall into the fantasy department.  I’m equating any imaginary thoughts as fantasy.

It is my experience that many people are uncomfortable about both types of fantasy – the scary ones and the joyful ones.  Sometimes we put so much emphasis on what’s happening in our mind, even if some of the thoughts are outside of our control.  Clients often report that they desperately want these things to stop.  We often fear that we are going to cause these things to come true.

I can completely understand these fears.  I have a fantasy life just like you do.  And yes, some of the things that happen upstairs in my brain can be terrifying.  Whether it’s imagining a horrific accident or a natural disaster.  Where it gets concerning and serious is the point when these intrusions prevent you from being present and productive in your life.  The fantasies discussed here are more innocuous.

Both the unpleasant and the satisfying fantasies are full of amazing content for analysis.

Because an area of interest for me is the subject of infidelity, let’s consider a fantasy you might have of being with someone other than your spouse or partner.  Even the mere thought of thinking about being with someone else might cause you some distress.  But think about what might play out if you did engage in this type of relationship.  Who is the other person?  Where did you go and what did you do?

Please don’t misunderstand where I’m going here.  I’m not condoning stepping out of your relationship or minimizing situations where people do.  The reason I had to qualify my motives here is that I know it makes people uncomfortable to let one’s mind wander in this way.  If this came up in the course of conversation in a session, I might acknowledge that you seem upset by the fantasies and help you to explore why that might be.  Our conversation might lead to discussing the state of your current relationship and how this fantasy parallels or differs from your relationship. 

Perhaps you’re feeling that your relationship has grown stale and fantasizing helps you explore the possibility of expanding your horizons within the context of your relationship.  Could it be possible that you’re frustrated that you have had trouble finding alone time due to that pandemic?  Or are there conflicts you’re experiencing that cause you to wonder if your relationship will last?

In my work with clients, we almost always explore the fantasies of where your mind wanders.  It can feel frightening at times.  But just because you think something does not necessarily make it real.  Chances are, you’ve probably thought about leaving a relationship long before you verbalized it.  Exploring your inner fantasy life can acquaint you more deeply with your true sense of intuition and help you align more closely with what you value in life.

Fantasies can help us think more deeply about our relationships with our partners, children, and friends and family.  Tuning in to why you might be having fantasies about ditching your job, for example, could help you explore where your career might not be meeting your needs.  Our inner life has so much to do with how we live our lives and how we can find more depth and connection.

Therapy can help us explore the inner parts of our mind and determine whether we are living life in the way we want to be.  By approaching our fantasies with curiosity instead of judgment, we might consider new possibilities for our life.  If you have questions about how therapy can help you, I can be reached at cmgsnyder@gmail.com.

How to Turn around Negative Self-Talk

self-talk

Self-talk follows us wherever we go.

What do you think when you read the message on this shirt?

One of the first take-aways might be: “what a positive message!”

And yeah, it is a great message to send to kids. Having dreams and aspirations is an important thing.

But if you’re reading this, you’re probably not a child. You’re a full-grown adult that’s been through some stuff. And seeing something like this on a shirt might cause you to have different reactions.

Depending on where you’re at, it might cause you to say, “yeah right”. Or “that’s not true”. You could feel jaded by life and not about positivity right now.

I get it.

When your relationships aren’t going well or you’re not feeling jazzed about your job, you don’t exactly feel like doing a back flip. And who could blame you?

Sometimes when we mess up in a relationship or make a bad decision, we hear an inner voice scold us.  This inner voice can also be referred to as self-talk.

I know you’re nodding along with me. Even if you look like you’ve got it all together, you have an inner voice, too. It’s usually the voice of someone who influenced us as a child. I almost said, “it’s someone who cared for us”, but if you hear this voice call you a “loser”, that’s not exactly “care”, is it?

Let’s face it…if you grew up in a certain era where positive messages weren’t emblazoned on children’s clothing (if you were born before the 70s or 80s, you definitely get where I’m coming from), you might have heard stuff about “tough love” or being told “you should be seen and not heard”.

Most people today approach parenting differently. Not everywhere or every family, but there’s more of an acknowledgement that harsh words from a parent can wreak havoc on us well into our adulthood.

This so-called internalized voice might have once been a critical parent or a mean teacher who put you down. And as you grew up, you picked up the ball and ran with it.

You’re so eager to please that you absorbed those mean words and save them the effort of saying those things. You just say them to yourself now.

You mess up at work and you criticize your inattention to detail or failure to focus. An argument with your wife can cause you to say you can’t do anything right. You mess everything up.

Sometimes you don’t even realize you do this. That’s how insidious the self-talk is. It’s like bamboo. It seems innocuous and then when you don’t notice, it’s choked your entire yard.

This self-talk or inner voice can be tamed and you don’t have to be victimized by it forever. Once you start to acknowledge its existence, it might be so tempting to dismiss it. But truly listening in and hearing what it tells you and when it starts yapping provides you valuable information.

You might ask yourself whose voice is it? Who spoke that way to you? What was your relationship like with them? Listening to your self-talk might help you work toward developing a different relationship with your inner life. Getting acquainted with what is within yourself also moves you in the direction of better emotional regulation and could also enhance the relationships you have with others.

If now feels like a good time to get the ball rolling, feel free to reach out to me at cmgsnyder@gmail.com. You might be ready to make some changes in your life. Virtual therapy is available and I am licensed to provide this service to anyone living in New Jersey. While it might not feel like you can do anything, like the shirt says, taking the initiative to make some changes means that you are doing something right.

Online Therapy Can Still Be Pretty Great

Online therapy can really help you right now, especially due to the isolation you are feeling. The stress of the months-long quarantine has taken a toll on your life in so many ways. Juggling your job, the strain of virtual school for your children, and the tension in your relationship…those are just a few things causing clients to reach out and call for help.

When this initially began back in March, I anticipated staying home and doing online therapy through the summer and then return to my physical office in September. But as time has gone on, that timeline has been revised.

Perhaps you have been waiting until therapists are fully back in their offices before you made an appointment. Doing therapy on a computer is not the same, you’ve noted. I like to be in the room with someone, is something else you’ve probably said. If it makes you feel any better, most of my colleagues and I feel the same way. We miss the energy in the room and being able to pick up on subtle body language cues.

And you’re right. It’s not the same. But not the same doesn’t necessarily mean it’s all bad.

One of the advantages of online therapy is that you don’t need to leave your house. No need to plan out how you’re going to go to and from an office. I don’t even care if you shower or if you’re wearing grubby old sweats.  It really does not matter at all.  All you need is an internet connection for an online appointment so we can even have a session if you’re in your parked car or outside in a private space.

Another positive thing about online appointments is that you might even feel more open because you are more comfortable being in your own place.

So…how does it work?

If you are interested in meeting with me, we’ll have a brief phone or video consultation to ensure that I’m a good fit. If the issues you are struggling with are not within my area of expertise, I will provide you with referrals to trusted colleagues. In our consultation, you might tell me a little about what is happening in your life.  I will give you information about what to expect. You will receive an email containing a link to my online patient portal.  And finally, I will also provide you a link to my virtual office when we make an appointment time.

When we do meet, you and I will talk as if we were together in the office. Sometimes it requires a little bit of patience because the technology isn’t always on our side. I try to be as flexible as I can in that moment and I hope you do the same.

It is my hope that clients I see virtually can return to my physical office in Livingston. However, my clinical license allows me to work with clients anywhere in New Jersey.

If you have any questions about the process or how we can work together, feel free to reach out. You can reach me at 201-248-5552 or at cmgsnyder@gmail.com.

Can I Leave When There Is Infidelity?

You don’t have to stay together.

How’s that for controversial?

One quick Google search on “cheating” or “infidelity” and we’re bombarded with “affair recovery” and “infidelity prevention” programs. We are affected by so many influences who overtly tell us we need to work it out and stay with a partner who hurt us. Whether it is our families or our religion, deciding on the best course of action for yourself and for your children is very painful and difficult. Some people see themselves as “bad” or “wrong” because they don’t want to work it out.

Infidelity is incredibly complex and requires a highly individualized approach. It affects how we see our relationships and those of other people. It has existed since the dawn of human-kind and I imagine that people have wanted it to stop forever. Esther Perel says in her famous TED talk that it is considered so wrong, that it appears in two of the Ten Commandments. One for doing it and one for thinking about it.

It’s also something that I don’t pass judgment on. You’re carrying enough shame around, whether you’re cheating or your partner is seeing another person. You are still a human being with worth and value.

Infidelity is not going anywhere. I hate to break it to you that way. Most people know someone who is involved with another person. If anything, it is on the rise because probably well over 90% of us have our eyes on a screen. A little computer that we carry around with us everywhere, where we do everything without our partner knowing.

Infidelity is also one of the most devastating experiences in a relationship for most people. It has a way of messing with the identity you once had in this relationship. It means something to us when we say, “I’m Bob’s wife” or “I’m Sally’s partner”. Who are you, now that this has happened?

The discovery of an affair sometimes leads one party to find a couples therapist. And there is nothing wrong with this approach at all. Working with a capable professional who can help you heal together can be very valuable.

I do not currently work with couples, after having done so for a number of years. But I’ve found that people often call me to process their feelings about the infidelity, separate from their partner. Whether it is the person who has strayed from the relationship or the partner who has experienced betrayal.

Alone with a therapist, clients want to grieve the loss of what their relationship was. Or they need someone to help them tolerate feelings of humiliation they experienced. They might also want to talk about how in love with the other woman or man they are because they feel so torn. A partner may also feel so angry that they could barely look at the partner who betrayed them.

Sometimes when clients reach out to me, they do not have a desire to stay in their relationship. They might need help discerning whether the path means staying or leaving. I trust my clients to make their own decisions as they are the experts of their own lives. In other words, unlike some programs out there, I am not of the belief that people should always be steered into staying. Nor do I steer people in one direction or another. By the time someone learns of an affair, the relationship may have been unhealthy for both people for many years. They might have planned to leave at some point and stayed for various reasons.

If you are confused about what to do now, it may be support you need. A place to vent or a person to hear you. I am here to help you navigate the situation you are in. If you would like to see if we are good fit, feel free to call me at 201-248-5552 or email me at cmgsnyder@gmail.com. I offer a free 15-minute phone or video consultation.

Financial Infidelity – Part Two

Financial infidelity money stories

Recently, I published a blog post about financial infidelity. It contained a broad overview of how our behavior with money manifests in relationships. This current post is part two of a three-part series about financial infidelity. If you’d like to see part one, please click here to read it.

In my first post, I wrote that there are two ingredients that need attention if we want to understand financial infidelity in ourselves or in our partner. By first understanding, we will get closer to managing our feelings about it. Those two ingredients are : 1) our money stories and 2) how we conceptualize transparency in our relationships. Because both topics require more specific explanation, I decided to dedicate blog posts to each topic.

What is meant by our money stories?

We develop a relationship with money, just like we develop relationships with people. These relationships could be healthy and satisfying or harmful and toxic. Usually we learn by observing our family’s spending habits. To look more deeply at your family’s behavior, consider these questions in your family growing up:

* Did you have enough money for basic necessities?

* Did your parents earn a high income, but you were forbidden to use the money?  

* Was money spent frivolously and not used for things you really needed?

* Were your parents or those who raised you employed?

* Did those who raised you have an adequate income? 

* Were your parents or those who raised you overly concerned about what others thought about them?

Many of these are yes or no questions.  Each question has a story to go along with it. This story is the plot line of your money story.  For example, maybe your family could not afford basic necessities. You observed conflict about spending in the house or you heard bill collectors calling your home. Your utilities were periodically cut off in your house. Maybe you didn’t have ample food to eat or you were unable to bring friends into your home as a child. Perhaps you experienced homelessness as a child or needed public assistance for food or living expenses. As a result of some of these experiences, you developed strong emotions about money.

What do I do with this information now?

These strong emotions led you to develop certain attitudes about money, some of which you heard growing up. Whether you learned that wealthy people are “evil” or that needy people are “lazy”, our family influenced us on some level. We sometimes grow to agree with some of the things we heard or we do a complete 180 and say that we will never share those attitudes.

Attitudes about money also sometimes influence career choices or how you go about earning a living. Did you say to yourself at some point, “I will never struggle like my parents did?” Or were you embarrassed by the extravagant items your parents bought? You might experience some emptiness in your career satisfaction if you find that you entered a career solely based on earning a high income.

Some of the emotions you may feel about money include disgust or shame. For example, if your family lacked money for basic necessities, you might still feel shame about not having enough. This may even cause you to feel “not good enough” as an adult. Conversely, if your family had an abundance of money, you might have felt disgust at the material items they purchased. Or you might feel annoyed by how much their cared about their own image.

Our feelings and attitudes about money influence our behavior with it. When we are in a relationship with someone, our money story is playing out, especially if we share a household. We act out what we learn.  Our fears of not having enough money sometimes cause us to withhold intimate financial details from our partners. In a similar way, a desire for to be seen in a certain light might cause us to purchase items without the partner’s knowledge.

How can I get some help with this?

When addressing situations where we withhold information from our partner or they are not sharing themselves fully with us, it’s important to examine our own money stories. If you recognize this pattern in your relationship and you think it’s time you started therapy, please reach out to me at cmgsnyder@gmail.com. Currently, I see clients online and can work with anyone located in the state of New Jersey. When life resumes some sense of normalcy, I will return to my office in Livingston, but will continue online therapy for clients who are more comfortable with that option.

 

Teletherapy: How Does It Work?

Teletherapy laptop; acquired from Pexels, no attribution required

Does anyone feel like they are really crushing it lately?  Chances are, in our day-to-day, we know people who act like they are on top of the world.  But the world has been a surreal place these days.  If you told anyone we’d be dealing with a quarantine due to a complicated virus a couple of months ago, no one would have ever believed it.  I bet you never believed you’d click on a blog post about teletherapy either.

Now that it’s been going on for over a month, depending on what state you’re in, you’re feeling feelings.  You’ve been feeling them all along.  And you’ve been feeling them long before this was even a blip on the radar.

Isolated from our extended families, friends, coworkers, and even the random chit-chat of strangers, you’re finding yourself irritable, angry, tearful, anxious, worried…Basically, I could word-vomit every emotion here because it’s a safe bet that you are all over the place.  Things you didn’t think you missed are popping into your mind.

You also might be bogged down by sleep disturbances, bizarre dreams, a lack of motivation, and exhaustion.  Which all make sense, given the new hats you’re wearing at home.  You’re working all the time now and helping your kids learn some new-fangled math you never saw before.  Simultaneously, you’re juggling laundry, dishes, meal prep, food shopping, caring for aging parents.  Again, I could go on, but you get the drift.

These things aren’t going to all go away overnight.  We’re in this for the long haul, most likely.  Even when we resume whatever “normal” looks like, our feelings won’t vanish.  This quarantine is shining a light on concerns you’ve had all along.  Being faced with the silence brings up things you wanted to ignore.  Fears of not being enough.  Temptations to connect with old flames on social media.  Managing your marriage and an extramarital relationship.  Concerns about whether you want to stay in your relationship.  A feeling that you’re done feeling “this way”, whatever “this way” means for you.

While therapy isn’t about getting hold of a magic wand and transforming yourself overnight, it can help you feel something different rather quickly.  This connection you make with another human being who is not your friend or family member can be comforting in the short term and transformative in the medium-to-long term.  The magic doesn’t even always happen during a session, but the wallop of a light-bulb moment can hit you at the most random time.

Now is a great time to start.  And yes, the vast majority of us are doing teletherapy now.  We are concerned for your safety as well as our own and we’ll get back into the office when it’s the appropriate time.  Why stay stuck in your life longer than you need to be?  Therapy won’t magically dissolve all of the juggling you’re doing right now, but it could help you feel better doing it.  It might even make you better at it.

You might be asking, how does this work, this teletherapy?  And why should I try it now?

If you were considering whether we’d be a good fit to work together, we can have a brief consultation and go from there.  Typically, I do a 15-minute consultation with you by phone or via Doxy.me, the secure online platform I use for teletherapy.  We’d set a regular appointment time and meet regularly via video or telephone if that’s your preference.

Most of us therapists love being in the room with clients.  There’s an energy I feel from the instant I welcome a client into my office.  It tells me so much about where you’re at emotionally.  And the colleagues I talk with regularly are missing that very much.  But there are some benefits to meeting you this way, too.

You can do a session with me anywhere, as long as you have reliable internet or phone service.  You can be in your jammies, have your dog or kitty on your lap, and enjoy your favorite beverage during our session.  Not only are you more comfortable, but it also gives me an interesting view into your real life.  You can even call me from your yard or your car if those are places you have the most privacy.

If you have any questions about teletherapy or if you think you’re ready to begin, I’d love to hear from you.  Email is best:  cmgsnyder@gmail.com. 

You might also want to check out more about my practice here:

How I Can Help

Because of state licensure regulations, I am only able to practice in states I am licensed so even if you aren’t local to my physical office in Livingston, NJ, I can work with clients anywhere in the state.

Financial Infidelity – Part One

Financial Infidelity

Financial infidelity has been an area that’s interested me for some time. I wrote this blog post several weeks ago – before a quarantine was even on our radar.

We are now going through a massive global health crisis that causes many of us to feel emotionally unstable. I’d bet very few people say they are feeling great right now. There are so many complicated emotions about what we are dealing with. So much fear and uncertainty about the health of ourselves and our loved ones. Financial concerns are also abounding due to the potential instability of our economy.

I’ve been at a loss about putting out a post about something other than Covid-19. Obviously it is on the minds of all of us. Considering that many people have lost their jobs or sources of income, there might be some relevance to posting this now.

What is so intriguing about this topic is that very few topics are as intimate as our interaction with money. Last month, the New York Times published an article about this very subject that once again, piqued my interest.

If you’re interested in checking it out, here’s a link to the article:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/14/parenting/financial-infidelity.html?searchResultPosition=1

Financial infidelity, like affairs, can be defined in many different ways. It can mean so many different things to so many different people. Generally, financial infidelity could be defined as withholding certain details about finances from one’s partner. This involves one’s spending habits or whether someone is paying the bills as agreed upon. This could mean buying items in excess of what was planned and then hiding evidence of those items.  It could also mean taking out a loan or a credit card without informing the other partner or using money to gamble with, indulge in pornography, or buy drugs or alcohol with.

The article I shared above is typical of most articles on this subject. They always contain stories about doing something behind the back of your partner. But rather than dig into the emotional reasons that someone is pulled to deceive the other, they interview a marketing professional, provide data from a bank that seems to be in everyone’s neighborhood these days, and get the opinion of the head of a wealth management company. The closest they get to emotions is a quote from a financial coach. I had some high hopes about what he was going to contribute, but his advice involved the ambiguous “get your partner to do x, y, and z.” But selling your partner on a behavior isn’t what relationships are all about. It becomes more about creating a sales pitch to your partner than truly digging into what is driving their emotional train (and yours!) behind these behaviors.

I’m going to contribute my two-cents (sorry – I couldn’t avoid a money-oriented pun here!) from the perspective of a mental health professional. There’s an undercurrent to our emotions and behaviors that is worth exploring. This undercurrent causes us to eat when we know we aren’t hungry, curb our drinking when we know we drink for the wrong reasons, and spend money when we know we should save.

If financial infidelity is occurring in your relationship, changing it requires a clearer understanding why you are (or your partner is) concealing financial information or transactions.

There are two areas that I’d like to spend more time discussing that will appear in future blog posts.  The two areas to consider thinking about are:

1) our money stories and

2) what transparency means to us in our relationships.

If you or your partner is struggling with transparency in your relationship and you would like to consider working with me to resolve this, please contact me at cmgsnyder@gmail.com. My practice is located in Livingston, New Jersey. Due to the quarantine, I am providing services on a secure, online platform to clients anywhere in the state of New Jersey.

Covid-19 and Self-Care during Isolation

Self-care downloaded from Pexels

Covid-19, also known as Coronavirus, has been responsible for tragedy and chaos throughout the world for the last couple of months.  It’s not necessary for me to say anything about the science of this.  First of all, I have no authority to speak on anything related to virology.  And secondly, by the time you read this, you’ll find that what is being learned is changing on a daily basis.

Due to the highly contagious nature of Covid-19, countries all over the world have implemented strict isolation orders.  A few weeks before Covid began showing up here in the United States, videos circulated of spirited Italians singing from balconies to both comfort one another and help pass the time.  This isolation has caused the routines of almost everyone to come to a screeching halt.

Our day-to-day routines have changed, but so has the focus on habits like hand-washing and sanitizing.  Fear of catching Covid-19 from a surface or by breathing in germs has caused us to load up on hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes.  Might as well throw in there the panic of shopping for the ever-elusive toilet paper or worrying about food shortages.

These changes have caused us to spend extra time preparing – running from store to store for products the last store didn’t have – and also getting ourselves prepared to transition ourselves to working from home.

Time is one of our most precious commodities.  Being isolated, both our time-management and our sense of time stresses our emotions.  We might have expected to have loads of free time while isolated, but we are finding that the isolation comes with new stressors and work expectations.  Now is an excellent time to tend to our self-care.

It’s no wonder that you might be feeling anxious or depressed. The isolation combined with uncertainty about the potential havoc of Covid-19 can wreak havoc on our emotions. While many of us have joked about our introverted tendencies at times, I find myself missing those tiny interactions I have in the world everyday. The banter with the barista, the pleasantries exchanged with a stranger in the gym, the transaction with someone I bumped with my basket in Target. These things are not happening right now and for some people, life without these exchanges can feel pretty lonely. Even if you are sheltered in your home with those you truly love.

The situation we are facing is not a vacation. Sure, we’ve probably spent days on end in yoga pants or pajamas (OK, well, I’m pretty sure it’s just not in my house), but most people have found this a time of juggling. Parents have found themselves taking on the role of teacher if they have school-age children at home. That’s on top of an expectation to stay connected to an already stress-riddled job. Single parents are doing it alone and even in homes with two parents, stress could feel unbearable at times. It is also a challenge for parents to explain the Covid-19 situation to their children in an age-appropriate matter and be there for them emotionally when they might feel together themselves.

There are also always dishes to wash and meals to prepare and clean up. Almost everyone I have spoken with has said their life has gotten rather difficult lately.   Those who work in healthcare are dealing with an even more difficult burden. Some people who are on the front lines are either sleeping at their workplaces or quarantining themselves from their family members to prevent transmission of Covid-19 to them.

There are some ways to make this time a little easier to get through this time of the unknown.

  • Take a shower. Sometimes getting bogged down in the daily scramble causes people to get lax about basic hygiene. Grabbing a few moments away from your laptop, your children, your partner, and your children’s and partner’s laptops can make a difference in your outlook.
  • Get dressed. This probably goes hand-in-hand with showering. But especially if you’re in a position to work remotely on video with other people, presenting yourself in close approximation to your in-person life might feel better.
  • Take a social media break. We use social media for all sorts of reasons, but probably one of the most common ones is boredom. Not that we don’t have something better to do, but it can be a distraction from things that take a little more mental energy. Chances are, you’ve seen the same memes going around repeatedly you probably won’t miss much if you get away for an hour.  Constant focus on fear of contracting COVID-19 isn’t helping your emotional health.
  • Unplug everything. Take some time and just unplug everything. Our constant accessibility causes enough mental clutter in normal circumstances and clogs our head now more than ever. Spend some time with people you live with without a screen in the conversation. Meditation and prayer are great ways to spend time inwardly focused.
  • Go outside. As long as you have a reasonable distance between yourself and others, exposure to sunlight and fresh air is always a pick-me-up.
  • Make a new recipe. Remember the recipe you saved for when you had the chance to make it? Now is the time to try something new. It’s also hard to scroll on your phone when your hands are chopping and mixing!
  • Tackle something. Everyone has a project they put off in their home. When you’re already working and trying to help your child with school work, you might not have time for the closet overhaul or the room re-design you planned. Something simple like cleaning out a drawer or re-arranging papers gives you a sense of accomplishment.
  • Take a break for creativity.  Every human being possesses some form of creativity.  Use this time to set it free!
  • Call someone. There is no end to how to occupy yourself during this time, especially if you use social media. There’s a never ending live-stream this or Zoom-meeting that. You can easily fill your day consuming content on social media or watching stuff on a streaming service. Chances are, you can make someone feel less lonely by calling a friend. Now is a great time to catch up with someone you haven’t talked to in a long time.

Hopefully these suggestions are helpful in navigating your time at home. This is a confusing time for all of us.  It’s OK to not feel like yourself right now. You are doing your best.

If you are overwhelmed or struggling to manage relationships, I am currently seeing clients for teletherapy on a secure online platform. Please reach out to me at cmgsnyder@gmail.com