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What is Money, Work, and Love?

Why was it created?

Money is one of the most powerful motivating forces in American culture, yet it is a taboo subject. Since what can not be talked about is also hard to think clearly about, we are often affected by mistaken beliefs attitudes about the true value of money. Our misguided beliefs about the meaning and importance of money affect how view ourselves and how we relate to others, often in negative ways. Many of us fail to appreciate fully that, properly understood and used wisely, money can be a tool for supporting our most important values and for enhancing personal and family well-being, while misunderstood and used poorly it can undermine our health, welfare, and attempts to find happiness and contentment in our lives.

Because it is a taboo subject, most people have trouble communicating about money even with those to whom they are closest, or with those upon whom they must rely for guidance in their financial and personal lives.

What are some of the effects of the money taboo? People marry without discussing the extent of their partners' wealth or indebtedness. Husbands and wives do not ask or tell each other about their money. Adults spend their lives preoccupied with the accumulation of wealth and material goods, not realizing that by failing to pursue other values, they are creating lives that are emotionally and spiritually impoverished. Parents do not know how to educate their children about money and, as a result, the children are often unprepared to manage their financial lives intelligently and do not know how to integrate money, work, and family life harmoniously. Older adults may fail to understand the impact that well meaning but poorly thought through estate planning may have on the well-being of their heirs. The failure to communicate about money leads to personal and interpersonal stresses which can undermine individual and family well-being as well as creating conflict within family businesses. Conflict over money is the most frequently reason given for divorce, and estate planning that is not discussed with children may tear families apart after the parents are departed.

But even when expert advice is sought, the money taboo may undercut the professional's ability to help. Accountants and financial advisors often find that their clients are reluctant to discuss the personal or emotional side of their money concerns. And because they are also affected by the money taboo, they may not understand how to, or be hesitant to, open up communication for fear of scaring off a skittish or reluctant client. As a result, they may lose business or find their attempts to be helpful frustrating and unsatisfying.

Even marriage counselors and psychotherapists, who are supposed to know how to explore the most intimate subjects without being judgmental about their clients, find themselves inhibited by the money taboo and, more often than not, avoid exploring this sensitive area. Or, their own money related concerns or misconceptions about money and their biases regarding its meaning may distort their attitudes toward clients based on their wealth or relationship to money. Negative counter transference toward those who are more or less wealthy or who use money in ways that conflict with a therapists' values may undermine his ability to remain accepting and non-judgmental when discussing money matters.

Because of all of these problems, Dr. Richard Trachtman started Money, Work, and Love in November of 1998. The goal was to provide a range of services designed to help clients overcome the pernicious effects of the money taboo, to learn how to think clearly about the nature and purpose of money, and to communicate about it in a productive, emotionally satisfying way. He does this through a wide array of services including life coaching and psychological wealth counseling, marriage counseling, psychotherapy, consultations to clinical and financial professionals, workshops, family and family business communication facilitation, as well as seminars, speeches, interviews with the media, and writing.

In recent years Dr. Trachtman has also been focusing on the relationship between money and happiness. He has written a book on this subject. You can read about this book and others here.

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