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  • Writer's pictureRon Gallen

Money, Therapy, and Depression

Updated: Apr 5, 2020

Excerpt from The Money Trap...

The problem with psychotherapy for people with chronic money is that it can be uncommonly frustrating-for both the Patience's and the therapist. Beside the money or work obsession, people with chronic money problems exhibit mostly the same symptoms others generally seek therapy for: fear, anxiety, problems with relationships, feelings of alienation, a lack of integrity, of integration. Relief is sought from psychic pain. Initially, those with chronic money problems may find the process of talking in therapy comforting and helpful. But, over time, the psychotherapeutic process fails.

What happens is that fears and complaints about money tend to take center stage at each therapy session. The obsessive worry about money, about their particular financial bind, or work, is unrelenting. If the therapist doesn't have a practical or quick solution to offer for the money or work problem, the patient considers the entire enterprise to be a colossal waste of time. Eventually, as the therapist fails to offer practical solutions, the dam finally breaks. "I don't care where this all came from or why I do it--I need help now. I can't even pay your bill!" Any attempt by the therapist to draw the focus back to underlying emotional terrain is met with roadblocks.

This might sound like any typical resistance in therapy. But it is not. Most resistance is just that, resistance. And it is an integral part of the work.Patients and therapists alike get confused because struggles with work, money, relationships, and meaning are the very stuff of therapy to begin with.But here, until the nuts and bolts of chronic money prolemsare addressed, this material serves as a distracting smokescreen. Therapy for those with chronic or obsessive money problems, therefore, is like that with any addict-without addressing the addictive nature of these problems the directly, the therapy hasn't got too much of a chance. Hoping the financial matters and obsession with them will go away with enough insight is exactly like hoping an alcoholic will stop drinking after he gains enough insight. As well know, it simply does not work that way.

Depression and chronic money problems: which came first?

Depression can often be found in lock-step with chronic money problems. It is never easy to tease out which came first: did a depressive episode trigger an intense response attached to money, or did the chronic money stuff cause the depression in the first place? I'm not convinced it would be all that instructive to learn the answer. The difficulty is similar to distinguishing whether a psychosomatic symptom came first, or the fear attendant with it actually caused the symptom in the first place. Suffice it to stay, they often come in pairs.The divide in the psyche/soma is as permeable and fluid as the financial/emotional divide in chronic money problems.The great problem with depression and chronic money problems is that they feed off each other. and make it much more difficult to treat either one. "Ho win the world will I ever solve my money problems when I fall so easily into depression?." "And my money problems are the biggest part of why I get depressed in the first place."

When chronic money problems take center stage in therapy, then the moments carrying all the meaning will be the moneys about money. Unfortunately, by that point, achieving any real traction in the therapy may have become unlikely unless the compulsive cycle is broken.

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