Thursday, August 18, 2016

Happy to Report!

Contrary to what you might think (and I was concerned about), on-line therapy is working very well, according to the studies. There’s something about frequent texting, combined with optional video and audio, that seems to bring people closer and invite the sharing of confidences.

It allows my clients and me to leave notes for each other in the chat room, as well as to see each other and talk in real time. So for the client, it’s contacting their therapist as often as they want, 24/7, without having to get dressed and travel to the therapist’s office.

You might think that this keeps the therapist chained to the computer, but it doesn’t. While my clients can text me at 3 a.m., I won’t read it until 9 a.m., and that’s fine with them (and me!). When they read my response in the morning, they may opt to take some time to think about what they want to say next, maybe an hour or even a day or two. It doesn’t matter - the office is always open, although I’m not always in it. I do have office hours, of which my clients are aware, that are totally flexible, so I can accommodate everyone.

This works out well for the client who doesn’t have a therapist nearby, or wants complete anonymity (fake names are fine), or can’t afford face-to-face therapy. The only drawback, for both the therapist and the client, is that without visual cues, text messages can occasionally be misunderstood, so it becomes important to ask questions such as, “What did you mean by that?” I consider it excellent training for developing communication skills, which is what therapy is largely about.

Would I use an on-line therapist, myself? Absolutely! I would want to start with video, because I put great store by visual information, and then use the texting for ongoing back-up. But the video is not required, and people who are video-shy just avoid it.

If you’re interested in becoming a client, contact me at If you’re a therapist and would like to trying working through this medium, please contact me at There are cash bonuses available to therapists in underserved states, and I’d be happy to mentor you.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Chocolate Rules

These are two of the rules I live by:

1. Chocolate is not allowed to remain hanging around, at my house, tempting me. It must be entirely destroyed as soon as possible.

2. The only way to destroy it is for me to eat it.

I lust after all chocolate, from the finest Belgian handmade truffles to everyday candy bars. York Peppermint Patties call to me, too, and M&M's that have rested in the sun so they're all melty inside. I got very hooked, once, on Toffifay, and walked to the convenience store every day for my fix (and promised myself each time it was my last). My favorite, though, is dark chocolate - anything with very dark, hardly sweet, chocolate, especially if it is a covering for crackers, pumpkin seeds, or any kind of nuts or fruit. Or ice-cream. Hot fudge sundaes!

Basically, pure and simple chocolate, chocolate-filled or chocolate-covered anything.

This craving is a widespread affliction among women, it seems, more than men, and I don't know if anyone has figured out exactly why. We're agreed that it seems to have something to do with endorphins. Bingeing on chocolate is possibly diagnostic, as well as remedial, for feelings of disappointment and drop in mood.

I had a job interview, once, at which I was told that I could forget about finding work in the industry.  Afterward I went straight to the day-old-bakery outlet store and brought home a dozen chocolate cupcakes, some chocolate-frosted donuts, chocolate cookies and a package of brownies. I wasn't even thinking as I swept the stuff off the shelves. I just knew I needed this, fast!! (The interviewer's dire prediction was untrue, by-the-way; a few weeks later I landed my ideal job!)

There have been many similar episodes in my life. Chocolate restores my feelings of self-worth. Why? How does that happen?

I'm not going to wait for the medical and nutritional scientists to battle it out and propose the reasons chocolate is, or is not, a real remedy, or whether I'm just fooling myself. Chocolate is always welcome at my house, and my rules stand.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

True Story

Have you ever thought about writing a book about your own life? Most people have. Thought about it, that is. And they would do it - if they could just tell the story of their life to someone who would write it all down and go off and create a book from it! Sitting down to write is not usually how most of us want to spend whatever free time we can squeak out of our busy lives. It’s hard work, and very, very time consuming.

It starts out as fun. Most people begin with the title, and then stop dead in their tracks. There’s something about a title that is satisfying enough to quell the urge to tell the world what happened to you. My cousin wanted to write a book about his experience of social isolation he felt in an alien environment, and he was going to call it, Among Many There was One. That, basically, was the story he wanted to tell. As far as I know, he never wrote another word of it.

I have some favorite titles that tell the whole story. Marry Later, Marry Smarter is one of them, and another is Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. Those aren’t memoirs, though. Finding a title for your own life is more difficult. I was going to call my memoir, Not Crazy, but my friends were unanimously opposed, said it was too negative. I considered it positive, to be “not crazy!” 

The “working title” (I kept thinking of it as Not Crazy) drives the writing; the title that is finally applied usually comes at the end of the writing, when the book is ready to be printed and bound. The title my groupies agreed on was Someone to Talk To, which I still wish I hadn’t used, since it doesn’t really tell what the book is about.

The writing was difficult . . . onerous, invasive, taking over my life, for well over a year. I became ill from the stress. I became obsessed with the fear that I might die before I finished it. 

Am I glad I did it? Very much! Will I write a sequel? Probably not. I don’t want to work that hard again.

If it’s so strenuous, why does anyone write a memoir?

A writer named Sally Miller summed it up this way: “Our stories of overcoming adversity and hardship . . . . are monuments of hope to those around us. . . . . When we share them, we extend permission for others to say, ‘Yes, me, too!’”

That’s why I wrote mine. And it’s why I love reading memoirs, which I devour with great gratitude to those other writers who were also driven to share their experience for the possible benefit of readers. 

Memoirs inspire me.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Riding a Rocket!

In the final scene of the classic movie Dr. Strangelove: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, actor Peter Sellers zooms off into space straddling a rocket bomb as if it were a racehorse on a fast track to a new universe. That’s what I feel like. The rocket is telemedicine, and it has overtaken my life, carrying me into uncharted, exciting territory.

A few days ago published a list of “10 Companies to Watch in the Field of Telemedicine.” Many of them will bring a physician directly to your home via your computer to diagnose an illness or prescribe a medication. The two companies I work for specialize in Behavioral Health, or counseling and therapy.

The article reports that, “The mobile health market could reach an astounding $86.6 billion by 2020, a yearly increase of 20.8 percent over a five-year period.”, one of the companies I work with, now employs over 200 fully credentialed and licensed therapists and is recruiting new ones at a rate of more than 50 a month. They serve a client base of well over 6,000 and growing., the other company I work with, is becoming the Behavioral Health arm of Teladoc, another company on the list of “the big 10.”

For me, this means I can do the work I love in my comfy clothes, in my favorite spot in front of the sliding glass doors that overlook the lake beside my home. For my clients, it means having more affordable access to me via texting, live chats, audio and video messages, phone and Skype. Some of them use made-up names, and I don’t mind. They can feel safe telling me about the most private parts of their lives, because it’s confidential. We exchange messages as often as the client wishes, and we come up with solutions to their problems. One client said, “I just need someone to vent to,” and another said, “It helps to have another person’s perspective on things.” Then there are the heavy-duty issues like, “Should I marry this person who is an active alcoholic?” and, “How can I feel lovable when no one has ever loved me?”  The elderly struggle with chronic illness and social isolation.

Many of my on-line clients are in their early 20’s and suffering from acute anxiety, so many that I think there may be an epidemic of anxiety going on. Or maybe it’s just about being 20; I remember that year in my life as being very stress-provoking, and I tell them that.

The best news is, the therapy works.

You can drop in at one of my online offices at , or Or you can find me at my website, Ride the rocket with me! (You can use a fake name.) 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Cyber WHAT?

The Internet continually comes up with new ways for us to use technology, socially and privately. Now there's telemedicine, a developing genre of sites that in the near future may make a trip to the doctor's office unnecessary. Some physicians are already diagnosing and treating online, reaching people in underserved areas who would otherwise have no access to medical help.This particular application may take a few more years to become mainstream, but one health-care specialty in particular has already generated such a large following that a lively competition has emerged among multiple sites, creating its own burgeoning market as it attracts new patients and clinicians daily. 

Call it cybershrink, e-therapy, or online counseling -  it's the new wave of mental and behavioral health care delivery quickly gaining followers in the U.S., Canada, U.K., South Africa, Australia, and generally wherever English is spoken, and even where it's not.

Imagine this scenario - you feel anxious and need someone professional to talk to about it, but you don't have a therapist. You don't want to let anyone know that you think you need a therapist.  You see an ad on Facebook: "Wouldn't you rather be happy? Click here for a licensed counselor you can chat with 24/7."

Too good to be true? The fact is, it is totally true. These sites are not "dating" sites, nor for late-night sultry, suggestive conversations. It's really e-therapy, or online mental health counseling. Some people see it as more like coaching, since there is no diagnosing of mental illness nor any drugs being prescribed.The counselors or therapists (the platform vocabulary differs among sites) are fully credentialed and licensed to practice in an office, and most of them do. But for a lower fee than you would pay if you drove to their office to see them face-to-face, you can be matched with one of those same therapists for on-line texts, live chats, or videos. No appointments necessary - you text whenever you want to. No travel involved. You can even show up in your pajamas!

Does it work? While many people have more faith in the old-fashioned face-to-face kind of therapy setting, many others feel able to open up more freely using the anonymity of the computer, where a client can use a fictitious user name with the counselor, initiate conversations whenever they like, and leave long posts or videos for the counselor at any time of day or night. The process moves along rapidly, just as the phenomenon is doing, like a train so new-age that the regulatory agencies are racing to keep up with it.

Relocating to another part of the country motivated me to examine the options for opening a new practice. I jumped aboard the e-therapy  train and the referrals began rolling in. My new clients, don't need to travel to meet with me. They gain access to all my professional skills, training, and experience, while I get to do more of the work I love.


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Why Work?

Did you ever ask someone to explain something they had just said, that made no sense to you, and they responded by repeating it word-for-word, only slower and louder?

“I still don’t get it,” I told him.

“The. Only. Thing. Wrong. With. Work,” he repeated with emphasis, “is that it’s WORK!”

“That doesn’t make any sense,” I said. “What’s bad about work?”

The answer was, of course, that it’s work.

When I was a child, Daddy went to work every day. Mummy stayed home. Daddy dressed up and carried a briefcase, leaving cheerily in the morning and returning cheerfully for dinner in the evening. Mummy dressed down, in an apron over something called a house-dress, and flat heeled, lace-up shoes, and shuttled mounds of laundry from washboard to clothesline to ironing board, made up beds and scrubbed floors, all while preparing, serving, and cleaning up after meals three times every day. After dinner Daddy read the newspaper in the living room while I helped Mummy wash and put away the dishes, pots, and pans.

I knew for sure that I didn’t want to be a housewife when I grew up. I was going to be one of the people who dressed up, carried a briefcase, and had fun all day. And read the newspaper in the evening. I would go to work!

I grew up and got the suits and the briefcase and enjoyed earning a paycheck. But then I lost my job at a very bad time in my life – I was drowning in personal grief, trauma, betrayal, and loneliness –and I needed a lifeline.

I realized that the reason my father had been happy all those years (he worked until past his ninetieth birthday) was that he had work that he loved. He helped lots of people, that was what he did, and it made him happy.

So I stepped out into the darkness, off the edge of a cliff, into a graduate study program that I couldn’t afford, because it was the only route I could see that led to a reason to get up every morning, to go on living.

I became a healer of people, a helper, like my father. I am not very good at housework, as a visit to my home readily shows, but I love getting up in the morning to get to work. My work saves my life every day. And there’s nothing wrong, and everything right, about it!

Right Livelihood. The Buddha taught that it is one of the steps on the Noble Eightfold Path to peace, wisdom, and bliss. I have found it to be true for me.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Better with Time

I’ve spent most of my life feeling homely and insecure. As my feelings of self-worth slowly grew, my body and face aged, and by the time I finally liked myself as a person, I was embarrassed by my body.

A local art school needed an unclothed model for a 6-week sculpture course. They wanted realism, code for “not a centerfold.” Elderly was good.

I was ready for a new experience.

I entered the studio wearing only earrings, a head scarf, and a robe, carrying a small hand drum. I took my seat on the platform and dropped the robe. I didn’t look down at myself, because that would have made me want to cover up and bolt. 

I sat motionless for hours, with short scheduled breaks. “Realism,” I reminded myself. “This is what a woman of my age looks like.” I watched the students study me while their hands worked the clay. At every table, I saw little images of me develop and take on form. Like me, the little figures bulged and drooped, looking like little old ladies. Nude little old ladies, holding drums.

As my eye traveled from figure to figure, I saw that they all looked very much alike, and - they were beautiful. Beautiful little old ladies, sitting with their shoulders back and their heads up, looking proud of who they were.

I fell in love with all of them, and at the end of the course I bought one of the figures, who now sits on a sideboard in my living room - head up and tilted to the side, eyes closed, hands on her drum. She is a mature, giving woman, with a strong back and graceful hands, and a body that bespeaks decades of living.

The poet Robert Burns wrote, “O wud the gods the gif tie gie us, to see oursils as others see us.” A gift, to see ourselves through the eyes of others.

I feel beautiful.