Private Practice Services

How would you define wealth counseling?

One of our society's firmest convictions is that wealth guarantees happiness, that having enough money ransoms us from all of life's travails, exempts us from its heartaches, struggles, trials and tribulations. It is difficult, in fact, for many to imagine having both wealth and problems.

Inheritors, however, discover that struggle and adversity are part and parcel of living, and the rich experience their full share of life's conflicts, stresses, issues and dysfunctions -- special challenges, in fact, created and exacerbated by their wealth.

For many, the sobering reality sooner or later is that money may, indeed, be at the root of their deepest pain and greatest frustrations -- that being rich can be detrimental to one's mental, psychological and spiritual health.

Handling financial wealth well is not the "Easy Street" outsiders imagine. It requires hard work, focus and discipline, but the rewards can be tremendously exciting and fulfilling. Relationships and work are particularly tough areas in everyone's life, but with certain surprising twists thrown in for inheritors. Coping well with these unexpected challenges relies on the solid development of empathy, trust, self-esteem and communication skills.

All of us have a vision of how our lives could be lived, but each of us needs help in bringing the stuff our dreams are made of to vibrant reality -- the sort of counsel, instruction, inspiration and support a wealth counselor can provide.

Wealth counseling, then, is the charting of a safe, successful passage through the shoals of financial well-being toward a meaningful, productive and truly rewarding life.

Call it navigating the dark side of wealth on a journey to inner growth, emotional maturity and spiritual fulfillment.

It is for everyone who possesses wealth or is working hard to accumulate it. It is for all who regard themselves as materially rich (each according to his or her own definition of the term) and for everyone related to them.

It can benefit individuals, couples and families by helping to clarify needs, build confidence, enhance communication, develop trust and turn vague dreams into resonant reality.

Wealth counseling provides affirmation, insight, guidance, motivation and support for inheritors in virtually all aspects of their lives. In particular, it is for inheritors, for those wealthy men and women who are married but share little or no love. It is for well-to-do parents who are disappointed that their children have become spoiled and misbehaving and wish they had some better idea of how to turn them around.

It is for adults whose parents use their wealth to manipulate grudging compliance from them. And it is for all who, despite possessing great amounts of money, feel that their lives are hollow and empty.

Typically, inheritors have not been supported in defining and articulating life because much of the world simply dismisses them as "having it all." By helping them create a fuller awareness of their personal visions, and then assisting them with practical steps to put their vague hopes and aspirations into productive action, wealth counselors make their clients' lives better in many ways.

The exact content and character of wealth counseling are tailored to the individual's history, needs and desires. Some clients, for instance, bear a heavy sense of guilt for having been given so much, or for the way in which the wealth was created, and they need to make peace with the good fortune bestowed on them.

Some are learning to take charge of their lives, perhaps for the first time ever, and are building teams of professionals to help handle their legal and financial affairs. They use wealth counseling as a base for establishing and implementing their emerging control.

Some struggle with work-related issues or personal relationships, and they make valuable use of professional coaching in these sensitive areas.

Others are engaged in the difficult challenges of giving money away wisely. Wealth counseling provides them with a reliable sounding board in this endeavor and the opportunity to explore tough personal questions with an experienced, neutral advisor.

Wealth counselors can be an invaluable resource for both personal growth and building productive relationships with attorneys and financial experts, serving inheritors not only in an advisory capacity but as an active member of the professional team by facilitating business and interpersonal communications and maintaining the focus for valuable action-planning in meetings.

Many clients meet with wealth counselors for one-hour sessions on a weekly basis. The frequency and duration of meetings, however, can be tailored to the individual's specific objectives and needs. Often, for out-of-town clients, sessions are conducted on the phone. In most cases, clients and wealth counselors determine together when their goals have been met and their work is completed.

Extreme tardiness or a lack of follow-through in the creation or completion of a vital financial or legal objective (such as a will, trust or financial plan) is usually a tip-off that wealth counseling could be of help to an inheritor. Other tell-tale signs:

  • An individual or family is experiencing poor interpersonal relationships.
  • Evidence of a lack of self-confidence or low self-esteem or little sense of purpose in life.
  • Poor communication skills.
  • Secrecy concerning personal wealth to the point of damaging relationships.
  • Inappropriate investments (too high-risk or too conservative for the individual's financial situation, potential and goals).
  • Fear and distrust of others to the detriment of sound financial-planning and business or legal decisions.
  • Strained relationships emanating from fiscal inequality among family members.
  • Conflicting spousal or family attitudes concerning wealth and what it should be used for or how it should be managed.
  • Tension and stress resulting from sudden wealth, expected or unexpected.
  • Disillusionment over the failure of earned wealth to deliver long "dreamed-of" expectations and emotional rewards.
  • Negative feelings about the source of one's wealth.
  • Deteriorating money-related relationships within a family.
  • A reluctance or refusal to work with professional advisors.

In a materialistic world that worships money as the be-all and end-all of human existence, wealth counseling charts a meaningful path to genuine — real — success in life. It can be a godsend for everyone who yearns for inner growth, joy, maturity and self-fulfillment in face of the false, pervasive allure and debilitating impact of wealth.