Addressing the Money Taboo in Psychotherapy
Laurie Buntain, LMFT
What is money and why is it so hard to talk about? Beyond a medium of exchange and measure of value, it’s a powerful symbol representing many different things to many different people. It can symbolize the comfort of being taken care of and loved, as well as bring up issues of dependence and survival. It can symbolize power, control, envy or self-worth. Richard Trachtman offers this psychological definition: Money, psychologically speaking, is our projection onto coins, bills, bank accounts and other financial instruments of our beliefs, hopes and fears about how those things will affect who we are, what will happen to us and how we will be treated by others or by ourselves based on six possible conditions. We think of these conditions as follows: 1) I do have enough money, 2) I don’t have enough money, 3) I have too much money, 4) s/he does have enough money, 5) s/he doesn’t have enough money and, 6) s/he has too much money.
There is a saying among therapists that “you are as sick as your secrets.” Since many scholars believe that money is the number one secret in American culture, then we must live in a sick society. A Money Magazine survey from 2004 stated that 43% keep secrets to prevent conflicts in their household and 22% respondents said: “I don’t discuss how much I make with anyone, even my spouse.” Money is also the largest source of stress as chronicled by the American Psychological Associations (APA) in their annual Stress in America surveys over the last decade.
Scholars believe that financial psychology is a neglected area in mental health field professionals’ education, training and practice. The mental health field is reluctant to discuss finances with their clients beyond setting the fee for services. In this workshop, participants will explore the meaning of money, the money taboo, and explore ways to overcome the money taboo by addressing their own relationship with money first.
Laurie Buntain, MS, LMFT is a pioneer in the emerging field of financial therapy — and she brings to her practice 20 years of experience as an investment advisor, in a variety of capacities including financial analysis and research, risk arbitrage and domestic and international equity trading. Her expert knowledge of the financial world makes Laurie eminently qualified to help her clients understand the underpinnings of their own, often complicated relationships with money.
Laurie received a Master of Science in Counseling Psychology from Dominican University in San Rafael, Calif., where she has taught the Psychology of Money, and she holds a Certificate in Life Coaching from JFK University in Pleasant Hill, Calif. In addition to individual and couples counseling, Laurie launched and leads $Money Matters$ group workshops. For more information please go to: www.marinfinancialtherapy.com.