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.)