+ What is Financial Wellness Coaching?
I work with individuals, couples, and families to help establish and accomplish meaningful financial goals, explore dilemmas, and remove obstacles to financial well-being. Though we may think about money often, many of us still experience a disconnection between financial activities and the more personal aspects of our lives including relationships, values, and dreams. Yet money is a subject that is deeply personal, often painful, and very seldom rational. Financial wellness is a way of exploring the role of money in its full context: taking into account our cognitive processes around money, how we regulate financial behavior, interpersonal factors, and what we learned about money in our family. Because of the sensitive nature of the topic, I take utmost care to provide a safe, nurturing environment for all who participate in financial wellness work.
+ What are your qualifications and training?
I have a Masters degree in Social Work from Hunter College (CUNY) and a certification in Financial Social Work from CFSW. Additionally, I completed a Post-Masters Certificate in Advanced Clinical Practice from New York University and attended coaching training program at CoachU. In terms of experience, I founded and led a national non-profit financial wellness program for over a decade, and have worked with people privately since 2006. I speak, write, and consult all over the country.
+ How are appointments structured?
The services are rendered during scheduled 60-minute Zoom (secure video conference) or telephone appointments. If something comes up and you need to reschedule, it is helpful if you can let me know as far in advance as possible. In addition to the scheduled sessions, I also try to be available to clients for brief email or text follow-up. There is no additional charge for these follow-up contacts. If a question or issue requires more than a brief response, however, I will request that we defer further discussion until the next scheduled appointment.
+ Will my insurance cover this?
No. Even though I am a clinician, the type of work we’re doing is very specific coaching around financial decision-making and behavior. It is not mental health diagnosis or treatment, and thus not covered by insurance. If an underlying mental health issue (such as anxiety or depression) is impacting your ability to engage in the financial wellness coaching process, I will suggest a referral to a psychotherapist to address that need first. Depending on your insurance, that work may be covered.
+ Can you work with my current psychotherapist?
I am happy to work in conjunction with your psychotherapist to bring strategic focus to a financial issue or goal you’re facing. In fact, FW coaching can be an excellent short-term compliment to your ongoing psychotherapy.
+ Can you work with my financial advisor?
I am happy to work with you and your financial advisor around the development and implementation of your financial plan. I can also support you in preparing to work with a new advisor, so that you feel prepared to direct and manage any financial services professionals you retain.
+ Do you offer general psychotherapy?
I do not currently offer general mental health diagnosis and treatment. Should you be interested in this service, I will gladly help you find an appropriate mental health professional in your area.
+ Do you provide financial advice?
I do not offer planning services or financial advice of any kind. I do help you gather information, analyze options, consider potential consequences, and address dilemmas. My role is to support your process so that you can engage in financial decisions from a place of clarity, including any work you may do with an advisor or other financial services professional you retain.
+ Do you offer a sliding scale fee structure?
The short answer is no. But I do have a solution (see below). And this is an important question, so I hope you will read the longer answer that follows.
In a typical sliding scale arrangement, the provider and the client attempt to determine an amount the client can afford that is also acceptable to the provider. I have a lot of ethical concerns about this practice in general. While I appreciate that the goal is to make therapeutic services accessible to those who might not be able to afford the practitioner’s full fee, I believe there are several reasons this practice is problematic. First is the asymmetry of power. Fee negotiation puts the client at a disadvantaged position, and can be a deeply shaming if not traumatic way to begin treatment. Second is the asymmetry of information. Unless the client is showing income and expenses documentation to the practitioner, an “affordable” fee is 100% the client’s determination, the assessment of which might be highly subjective.
You can see why this process would be absolutely toxic to financial wellness work. In fact, it was the most difficult dilemma for me to crack in terms of how to structure the practice. How do I support myself in this business -- which not only shows respect for my own needs and boundaries but is a crucial thing for me to model for clients -- while making this work accessible to people from a broad range of socioeconomic circumstances?
The solution: a two-tiered fee structure. I have organized my available coaching time such that I offer a number of $25 sessions and a number of $250 sessions.* When I run out of available sessions at either price point, I maintain a waitlist. Since the work is short-term (generally three to five sessions) there is a good deal of movement on the waitlist.
*Note that this fee structure is for coaching work only. I have different rates for writing/curriculum development projects and consulting. Please contact me directly to discuss.
+ How do you usually work with people?
Work is generally three to five sessions. In the first session I will seek to fully understand the natural way you organize and engage with money (my philosophy: All Financial Behavior Has Meaning), and to identify the ways this style both serves and limits you. We will get clear on the details of the current financial challenge. From there we will gather information, explore options, consider changes and practice new behaviors.
I work remotely with people via a secure HD video platform called Zoom.
While this work is short-term, some people do choose to engage in FW coaching again down the road if and when circumstances in their lives change. But this is not designed to be an ongoing long-term process.
+ Can I work with you in person?
At the moment I only offer video sessions. When speaking and workshop events are open to the public I make that information available in my newsletter.
+ Do you recommend specific loans or other financial products?
While we can talk about the pros and cons of various options you’re considering, I do not endorse particular companies or products.