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How can we confront money taboos to improve our relationship with clients? With Celeste Pietrusza

Episode Cover Image -How can we confront money taboos to improve our relationship with clients? With Celeste Pietrusza

“Having a conversation about the higher fees or what someone can afford to pay is difficult when someone is coming in saying, ‘I’m looking for help here. I’m looking for therapy.’ How do you have that money conversation as part of the initial clinical conversation and continue to work with that in the relationship?”

~Celeste Pietrusza

Meet Celeste Pietrusza

Dr. Celeste Pietrusza is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice and supervisor at Greene Clinic in Brooklyn, NY.  

The Greene Clinic is a sliding scale psychotherapy practice based in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Their team of psychologists, social workers, counselors, and psychiatrists provides high-quality mental health care, including individual therapy for adults and children, relationship therapy, group therapy, and psychological assessment. The Greene Clinic’s mission is to make psychodynamic psychotherapy accessible to all, provide training in socially-informed psychoanalysis, and help therapists-in-training launch their careers. More information is available at: www.greeneclinic.com.

In this Episode...

How do the taboos around money impact fee setting and our interactions with clients? How can culture and class impact our own attitudes and understandings of financial arrangements, and what can we do about it?

Guest Celeste Pietrusza talks with Linzy about the stories and messaging that impact our relationship with money as we move into therapy and private practice. Celeste shares the way that relationship with money directly influences how we handle fees and the financial side of the therapist/ client relationship. 

Listen in to hear tips that Celeste and Linzy share about what has worked to help make their relationship with money and financial discussions easier over time. 

A recommendation from Linzy

Check out the Sustainable Practice Roadmap program that my friend and highly sensitive therapist/consultant, April Snow, has created to help overwhelmed highly sensitive therapists feel less overwhelmed and create an outside-the-box practice. 

The Sustainable Practice Roadmap includes:

6 months of weekly discussion groups + co-working sessions

Three 1:1 consultations (50 minutes each)

Monthly workshops from guest experts (including me)

12-module self-paced course with systems, tools, and templates

150+ resource and reflection pages in a printed (and digital) workbook

Check out  the Sustainable Practice Roadmap here (spots are limited) before September 22, 2023.

Episode Transcript

Celeste [00:00:01] Having a conversation about the higher fees or what someone can afford to pay is difficult. When someone’s coming in saying, I’m looking for help here and I’m paying for therapy. And how do you have that money conversation as part of the initial clinical conversation and continue to work with that in the relationship? 


Linzy [00:00:28] Welcome to the Money Skills for Therapist podcast, where we answer this question “How can therapists and health practitioners go from money, shame and confusion to feeling calm and confident about their finances and get money really working for them in both their private practice and their lives?” I’m your host, Linzy Bonham therapist turned money coach and creator of the course Money Skills for Therapists. 


Linzy [00:00:51] Hello and welcome back to the podcast. So today’s guest is a Money Skills graduate, Dr. Celeste Pietrusza, who is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice and a supervisor at the Green Clinic in Brooklyn, New York. Today, Celeste and I talk about class and we talk about her experience of being first generation, being the first one in her family, her working-class family to get a Ph.D. We talked about her experiences with going through that Ph.D. program, having working-class background. We talked about what challenges come up for the supervisees that she has now, where they really struggle around money and about just this pervasive lack of education, even in higher learning around money, the taboo around money and who that serves. If you are first generation or if you’re like me and you’re kind of second generation, like working-class family one or one and a half generations ago, I think you’re going to really appreciate this conversation. Today we get into some of the gaps that can exist when we have working-class backgrounds and then move into more of this kind of emotional labor and academic spaces and how some of the things that our parents teach us that worked for them and their situations don’t work for us anymore. Here’s my conversation with Dr. Celeste Pietrusza. 


Linzy [00:02:21] So, Celeste, welcome to the podcast. 


Celeste [00:02:24] Hi, it’s great to be here with you, Linzy. 


Linzy [00:02:25] Yeah, it’s great to be with you too. So, Celeste, you took Money Skills… what’s our timeline now? Like one year or two years ago? 


Celeste [00:02:35] Yes. I mean, I believe I began in 2020 and then completed in 2021. 


Linzy [00:02:42] Okay, so even longer than that. Okay. And you took Money Skills right at the beginning of kind of stepping into practice. Am I correct about that? 


Celeste [00:02:50] As I was finishing up my postdoc and moving into private practice, I was at doing my post-doc at a group practice where I supervise now. And feeling a lot of anxiety, actually, even with all of the training and preparation they had about making this move from being pre-licensed as a psychologist in New York State to getting everything together, passing the licensing exam and making this transition. And so Money Skills for Therapists laid the groundwork that got all my bank accounts set up. It felt really good to have that in place. Like even when I was like, I’m not sure how this is going to work, if this is going to work, but just trusting the process and the steps. 


Linzy [00:03:32] Mm hmm. Yes. And I feel when you’re talking like, I see you very much as like a student, like you’re somebody who’s really like a learner. And it sounds to me like you kind of just, like, put Money Skills, like, into your educational process as part of, like, stepping into practice. You added it to your curriculum. 


Celeste [00:03:49] Mm hmm. Yes. I mean, I wish I had something like this along the way in graduate school. 


Linzy [00:03:53] In actual graduate school, Yes. 


Celeste [00:03:55] I think about it as yeah, as a class that I, that I needed for licensure. 


Linzy [00:04:01] Right. Right. So going back then, like thinking kind of before your time and Money Skills, like you’ve done a lot of work on this. But I’m curious, Celeste, thinking about your, your background, how did that influence your relationship with money before you took Money Skills and became a supervisor as you are now? 


Celeste [00:04:18] So neither of my parents, neither my mom or nor my dad went to college. And so my dad was a union sheet metal worker and my mother helped run his business of contracting, too. And so they were really detail oriented about money. And yet in terms of me going to college and having very different challenges that they did too, and especially with a graduate education too going to PhD level student debt too, it was a new kind of structure. I mean, whereas in the union, once you get to journeyman start making a wage, you can make a specific wage and begin at 21. The training process with undergraduate is over ten years really to get Ph.D. level. And I was coming out as an adult and yet at the same time feeling what do I do now too, and made it this way and feeling like a very unique set of challenges as a generation college student. 


Linzy [00:05:20] Yeah, yeah, yeah. That first-generation experience. Because you were experiencing how to navigate something financially that your parents had never done before. And I’m curious, Celeste, like, did they want that for you? Like, was that part of the narrative growing up? Okay, so they wanted you to get that post-secondary education? 


Celeste [00:05:37] Yeah, I feel really fortunate. It was something that they encouraged my brother and sibling and I, and we all did get terminal degrees in our respective fields too as well. And so it was something I mean, the idea was you go to school and get an education so you don’t have to work as hard as we did. And there’s something about that on the one hand, in that investment of their time and labor and energy, that’s very empowering. And also at the same time, and we also have to work hard in a in a different way to lead in expected mental lives. 


Linzy [00:06:14] Yeah, like I’m, your Ph.D I’m guessing was not like super laid back and it was not a life of leisure, I would guess.


Celeste [00:06:20]  I was talking with someone who was not familiar with the process that you did an externship and then you did an internship, a full-year internship before your Ph.D. and then, only then you had to write a dissertation and that’s how the training process went. And so it did feel like there were constant deadlines and things to meet on a small stipend, too as well.


Linzy [00:06:48]  Right. Yeah. Like it’s a different type of labor that you’re having to do. And so I’m curious, and Celeste, like coming from that experience of being first generation, what was your relationship with money like, going back a few years ago before you really started working on this? Or maybe you’d already done some work at that time? I’m not sure. 


Celeste [00:07:06] Oh, I would start, well, I had to dig in. I mean, like I had gotten to the point where it was really time. I mean, I kind of money avoidance is what I would call it, had come to a crisis point. Like my idea was, okay, I will work to make sure I have enough for what I need and for what I want too. And yet at the same time, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I mean, maybe we don’t ever, I wasn’t thinking and planning for this future too in private practice, because everywhere it went along the way in the Ph.D. program, we were told, don’t think about that stuff until you get there. There’s enough to think about now. Or sometimes we’d be told things that were for far later, really early when they didn’t quite stick. One of the first presentations in graduate school was about how to file your dissertation with the library on day one in orientation. 


Linzy [00:08:01] They’re like, This is important. File this away for several years in your brain, but don’t think about how you’re actually going to make money when you’re out of here. That’s too much to think about. 


Celeste [00:08:09] Right? That was yeah, that was not addressed. I mean, I think there was maybe a panel once along the way, a colloquium of people in private practice. But it was also very early, like maybe first or second year of graduate school. And so it was nice to see that it was possible and see some role models and people to identify with. And yet at the same time, the absorption and capacity to say, okay, here’s what you do, here’s the like your course, the money nuts and bolts to what was not there to at least in any kind of formalized structured way.  


Linzy [00:08:44] Right. Yeah. So Celeste, then I’m curious for you emotionally, what was your relationship with money like? Like I’m hearing there was avoidance. What was in the mix there? 


Celeste [00:08:54] Oh, overwhelm. Kind of putting, an ostrich putting my head in the sand is the image that comes to mind. Like it’ll be okay, just and sometimes, and maybe this was part of the working class background in my family, was just work more. Like in when in doubt, add more work to the problem. You know, it’s what I saw my father doing it. It worked out in many ways for our family. And yet I learned that is not always the answer. Work harder. Working smarter was not something I really understood how to do, and I’m still learning along the way too what that means. Particularly in the psychology profession too, where I do feel a pull and a call to this one sometimes do want to do more and yet have had to also have the process of learning my own limits too. 


Linzy [00:09:45] Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Because when you mentioned like that work harder narrative, it occurs to me like that that is often the solution when you are working class, unless you actually have some sort of, you know, pathway up, you know, unless you can make it into management or whatever. But that’s such a small group compared to the folks who are doing the actual work. That’s the tool you have, right, is you can work more because even if you get a raise, it’s not going to be the kind of raise that we can get as therapists, right? Like, it’s just a totally different, like wage metric that we’re talking about there or scale. And so that occurs to me is like you’re given the advice or you’ve absorbed the strategy. That was the strategy that was available to your dad, and it did work for your dad, but it doesn’t actually apply to the work that you do in the same way. 


Celeste [00:10:32] No, I mean, people often think this an exaggeration, but my father would wake up sometimes 4 a.m. and I mean he’d stop back in to eat quickly. But when I mean, it would be ten, 11, midnight some nights as well. And there wasn’t this concept of the weekend either, because as he said, there’s always more work, right? You know, there’s more work to be done, right? Like and something he told me once and I’ve learned this now is a positive lesson, but at the time as a kid, I felt this pang, he said “Life is maintenance and maintenance is life”. 


Linzy [00:11:11] Yeah, I could see that. 


Celeste [00:11:13] And on the one hand, it is important for the daily actions and things you have to do. And yet it also as a kid as I heard this “Really is that all there is, like can there be a vacation?”.


Linzy [00:11:25] Well and like that’s so interesting. I mean, it makes me think about this summer. My partner and I had a backyard cottage built in our backyard, and sometimes I’ll say, “Oh, yeah, we built a backyard cottage”. Things like, Oh, no, no, we didn’t build it, we didn’t build it. We looked out the window at people working exceptionally hard, working to build it with their hands with skills that I 0% have. And something that I thought about sometimes as I walked, especially when we had to like, hire a heavy road crew of like guys with like literal jackhammers, you know, like experiencing like what is really a terrible workplace from a health perspective, like absorbing these fumes and just, like, rattling their organs. Like, sometimes I would look at them and just like, visualize their organs shaking in their bodies from the physical work they were doing to, like, destroy something on my property so they could fix it. And it just gave me this deeper appreciation for how much, when you are really working with your body, which is what a lot of folks are working class, that’s what you’re told to do with what you have to do. You have to put your emotions and physical sensations aside. You have to dissociate. There’s no way that those guys are not dissociating in order to be able to physically do what they do. And from like, if I think about an IFS perspective, like a parts perspective like that is managers. They have manager parts galore that are like making it. So it’s like, “Nope, you do the work” and like “Yep, your knee hurts and it’s been hurting for three weeks, but you can’t go to the doctor right now because you’ve got this contract to finish”. And so you just like you put it down, you manage, you manage, you manage, you manage and like some of those things that I think we might be able to have more access to in the kind of work that we do, of just like being present and slowing down and feeling it. It’s just like that kind of manual working class work is not conducive to really being like present, in like the more emotional parts of life. Like, I’m curious about your thoughts about that. 


Celeste [00:13:09] I really appreciate how you described and phrased that, because that does describe in this very empathic way the ethos that I grew up with too. There isn’t time for emotions too and I realize I began, my Psychology Today profile begins with the sentence that sounds similar to ” There may not feel like there’s time in my life to voice complex feelings and emotions” and that aspect too, of pushing it aside to continue really deeply resonates to me. My father had a lot of trauma and work was a way of it helped him heal, I believe, in some ways. And it also put aside and what are some other forms of intergenerational healing too, as well. 


Linzy [00:13:55] Totally, yeah. I mean, it makes me think about my grandfathers. I feel like my family, actually, that’s not true, my father is not college educated. My mother is community college educated, like, went into professional programs. But you’re, what you’re describing is very much how my grandfathers both live their lives. It’s like you work hard. Work is good when you are working. It is good. You are providing for your family, that is good. But like my one grandfather would like work hard and then like, go drink with the boys all night because he had like, done what he supposed to do. He had provided, and so he wasn’t going to, like, show up and hang out with his family. Like he needed to go drink, and he had a lot of trauma that I’m sure he was also avoiding at the end of the day. And so, yeah, there is it’s a different ethos than I think what has obviously been the kind of work that we’ve moved into and the kind of lives that we’re able to live. 


Celeste [00:14:40] And at the same time being mostly now seeing clients one on one and supervising too, I do run some groups as well and a little bit of teaching. But most of my work is one on one with clients. I do feel things and have the experiences emotionally in my body and how the experiences with my clients are things that do take time too to process and make space for, with myself and other relationships in my life too and what I’ve learned through all of self-compassion work and things that I do with my clients too, is how to give those grace. Because I think what growing up and seeing the men in my family work that way and the women in my family too, took on a lot of hard physical labor task too. My mother is around 70 years old and she chainsaws things and the things that she does just four pull ups every morning.  


Linzy [00:15:39] It’s amazing. I could do zero pull ups at this moment, I’m quite sure. 


Celeste [00:15:42] Oh, I think I’ve even at my fittest and youngest, I couldn’t do the flexed arm hang. I’ll do it. I’ll hold on to it. 


Linzy [00:15:49] Right. Yeah, yeah, yeah. You can cling but not pulling up. Yeah. 


Celeste [00:15:54] And so I this is the people I grew up with too. And there are some ways to have the sensitivity to, how to be mindful of my own sensitivities and gifts and value them equally and definitely too is something that I work on too. And I think that has been something that my family more broadly has come to recognize as an asset too, because it was so different. I mean, I don’t think I was thinking about this the other day, and I didn’t know anyone when I was growing up who volunteered or elected to go to therapy or and if so, they didn’t speak about it. 


Linzy [00:16:36] MmMmm Yeah, yeah, yeah. If I think about my family, which again I think is one generation removed but still has a lot of this trickle-down stuff, that’s still the case in my family, I think I’m the only one. Yeah, No, I shouldn’t say that if I go extended, but certainly it is amazing how much that mindset can persevere generation to generation. Of just kind of like well, I think I think now the ethos in my family is more like, “Well, it’s good that other people do it, but like, I don’t need it”. It’s good that other people have it. Even when my grandmother went for therapy because my grandfather was basically failing and going to die and she had all this stress and she was carrying so much stuff. So she saw the therapist once and she was like, “Well, that’s good”. Like, And the therapist wanted her to come back and she was very surprised. Because she was like, “Well, what is there to talk about? We just talked.” you know. So just like this idea of like, well, I did therapy. I did this. I talked about it. Now I’m going to go back and like, you know. You know, my grandmother, a similar program is going on like this very, even when she was retired, this very rigid, like chore routine and like things would happen annually at certain times, like work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work. Like even every day was work well into retirement. 


Celeste [00:17:37] And I’m thinking, as you say that about your grandmother, putting it on this checklist and checking it off too, and how much of acculturation there is and to do with and to therapy too what it means to be in a culture of therapy as well, and having a sense of its rhythms, a sense of even the routine, self-care routine too. I’m thinking about how clients too may come in unaware of what is this. People who are in therapy for the first time, who haven’t known anyone in therapy, like, I have to do this every week. Why? Then here we are saying just, just trust us, right? 


Linzy [00:18:18] Yeah. Yeah, yeah.


[00:18:19] And they’re like, Who are you? I like to start. I mean, and like, you don’t have to immediately trust me just because I’m a therapist. I mean, I know that that’s a message too that people get. It may take time to build that relationship and that groundwork. How we frame and talk about it too as well. And I’m thinking too, about even the culture of training as a therapist, which is something that I had an earlier career before. I’m going back to graduate school too. And so that was different for me to come into psychology, graduate school of training. I guess after we experience some things and really grapple with a lot of differences or things that I didn’t know too. 


Linzy [00:19:08] Hmm. Can you say more about what those looked like or some examples of that? 


Celeste [00:19:13] There’s a lot of discussion of like “We as therapists know this” and I’m like, this is my first year in a graduate program. I did not study psychology and I was this before this, I’d done a lot of crisis work and community crisis work too. And so asking for clarification on those things too, and like how to not know without any kind of judgment, because there was an idea being raised and going to school and going to public school, you get that there are “right ways to do things”, quote – unquote, and answers like that’s how you are a good student along the way. And even it comes almost naturally now to say, “Oh, there’s no right or wrong here” to that those embedded idea, I mean, when you are coming from a trades and crafts person-type background, right my mom would say, “Wait, what do you mean there’s no right or wrong? If you put the table on wrong, it’s going to fall down”. 


Linzy [00:20:12] Like, yeah, there is a right and wrong in the real world. If you build the bridge wrong, it’s going to be wrong. It’s going to fall apart. That’s very wrong. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I mean, that makes me curious to just like in your experience, do you think were you encountering in that any kind of like, I don’t even know the language for this, but some sort of like class disconnect or an assumption about who you were and what you had experienced before getting to this point that was not accurate in your case? 


Celeste [00:20:40] Yes. And they had the fortunate experience of having some other graduate students and colleagues to connect with about that, too. I mean, another one was the idea with money issues is don’t worry about it, you’re going to be fine. Which maybe reinforced this feeling I already had too, that was out of this place of unknown fear. I was already stretching it a bit. And then this was being felt like mis validated in a way too, thinking that wasn’t the message that I grew up with. And definitely, I mean, sometimes I had done that was much younger “Do not worry about it would be fine” and it wasn’t, it really wasn’t.  


Linzy [00:21:20] Right. Yes. Yeah. Because the assumption that “Don’t worry about it, it will be fine”, the unspoken part I think there is that there are safety nets like your parents can swoop in and help, or you can get a job through this connection. Like there’s a lot of, I think, assumptions there. That would make someone fine that are not accurate if you’re not actually in like a connected middle-class, upper-class situation. 


Celeste [00:21:43] I remember one colleague, a graduate student along with me, saying that “your parents don’t give you an allowance?”, right? And I was thinking, “I’m 30 years old… No!”. And also “What?”, right. And, and they did, I mean, they did when I was a kid. She was, like, not even, like, $500 a month. And my mind at that moment, I was just, I just realized, because I didn’t see her as someone particularly wealthy even, and yet it was a that felt like a market class difference there. 


Linzy [00:22:15] Sure. 


Celeste [00:22:15] It was like the idea even, and it’s common, and usual parents can support and help and children and adult children that they they will and do. And that wasn’t an idea. It was if you needed it, of course we’ll be there. The sense of like really making sure that we took care of ourselves and knew how to do that was so ingrained in me and at a very young age. 


Linzy [00:22:41] Yeah, yeah, yeah. So now, Celeste, as a supervisor, you know, working with clinicians who are pre-licensed folks coming into the field, I’m curious like, what do you see your supervisees struggling with as they’re, you know, building their practices and working with clients when it comes to, you know, these pieces that we’re talking about? 


Celeste [00:23:02]  The first one is the fee setting and discussions around money and the emotions that they bring up for clinicians too as well. And so in my training experience, I first worked at the Duquesne University Psychology Clinic, and it was a community clinic that had a sliding scale. And at the time I believed the most that we had ever charged for the fee was $40. Then at the Green Clinic, we’re in Brooklyn, where I did my postdoc. The sliding scale ranges with the high end to $225, which is the usual and customary for the zip codes the clinic is in. And so the supervisor trainees, I mean, people would come in at a 40 or $60 sliding scale, 150 or 225 and those are very different situations too as well, and how to have those discussions and take that into account. How the Green work is the higher fees help subsidize and make it possible for trainees to see people in the community that don’t have insurance or out-of-network benefits. And there and yet having a conversation about the higher fees or what someone can’t afford to pay is difficult when someone’s coming in saying I’m looking for help here and I’m paying for therapy. And how do you have that money conversation as part of the initial clinical conversation and continue to work with that in the relationship, especially if you haven’t had that experience or that discussion. And I feel really fortunate we have didactic agreement and a lot of support and process around that aspect of training too. And yet, you know, it’s something that this point, you know, I still have work to do around the emotions that come up with it. 


Linzy [00:24:59] Yeah, I was going to say like, what are some of those emotions that come up for your supervisees that you still notice coming up in yourself around those conversations? 


Celeste [00:25:07] So supervisees, I hear of anxiety and fear, too. As well guilt, shame too, so some difficult ones. Some frustration too because when having a discussion about money can bring up so much else. And it’s hard to know, you know, what are someone’s real assets and aspects of their of their life, too, that feed into the full picture, too. And so and I really do, I mean I still feel the call and we have some class shame too around those differences and, and fears of loss or rupture too in the relationship are common. 


Linzy [00:25:50] Like if you do the conversation wrong, you could ruin this relationship? 


Celeste [00:25:54] Or lose good parts of it too? Definitely is, that the aspect that comes up too, like the how to keep money intertwined and see it as a part of social and relational exchange rather than. I mean, it can be this idea, I mean, it comes in art too, as well, other factors of life like, “Oh, here’s something that where money is separate, here’s the art, here’s the money. Here’s the therapy, here’s the money”. And I think this is in lots of cultural aspects to the idea about money being dirty in and of itself. 


Linzy [00:26:28] Right. Right. We don’t contaminate the relationship with money. Yeah. Yeah. And like what? I mean, I’m glad to hear that there is training, in the place that you work. But I’m thinking in general, like, what a setup in a way, right? Where it’s like, you know, when we are providing service, whether it’s within a larger framework where we have to help somebody figure out what fee, where they should land, or whether it’s if we’re in private practice and then it’s just us by ourself trying to figure out, okay, like what? What am I offering? How how do I know what to ask? Like, how do I determine what somebody with sliding scale somebody “deserves to access”? I’m putting this in quotations. Like what a loaded heavy topic to have to deal with when we have no training on it. 


Celeste [00:27:11] And again, to go back to we only know what we know. We can’t know what we don’t know until you come into encounter it. Too is, you know, when I moved from Pittsburgh to Brooklyn, I mean the sense of the disparity and the difference between that, I mean, I purchased a house in Pittsburgh in graduate school for $65,000, ready to move in, four bedrooms, in the city. I could walk to the campus. 


Linzy [00:27:38] Whaouh. 


Celeste [00:27:38] And that’s not the case there. You don’t. 


Linzy [00:27:40] No? Okay. Yeah. So I was a little while ago. 


Celeste [00:27:42] Well, it was ten years. 


Linzy [00:27:44] So it’s not that long. 


Celeste [00:27:45] Pittsburgh still affordable. I’ll put in a plug for Pittsburgh any day. 


Linzy [00:27:49] You get a house for not 65,000, but not also 6 million. 


Celeste [00:27:54] Yeah, under, under 300. A nice house in the city and then coming to New York to where, I mean studio apartments, a basic one-room, between 300 and $600,000 minimum for studios. Very different kind of experience and you know the kind of money that people make is a lot more and sometimes a lot less. 


Linzy [00:28:20] Yeah, yeah. 


Celeste [00:28:21] You as well. And so even just knowing that is a cultural monetary context took some time to get oriented to because my first response is I, I’m not even licensed. I can’t charge people $225. 


Linzy [00:28:36] I remember those conversations. 


Celeste [00:28:38] And now it’s very, very different. Like, I mean, that feels right, and it’s an even it’s possible to charge more than the too as well for the service and quality of service too. And yet, I mean, I had the first idea that “Oh, there’s no one who’s going to be able to afford that”. I’ll see no clients. It was kind of an all-or-nothing thinking about it, and it was coming from a place of fear and insecurity myself, too. And that’s a hard way to begin and set off on one foot when there’s now all the other training too, and all this other conversation around so many topics and some of the other hardest topics in life grief or death, sexuality, trauma, abuse too, talking about all the incarceration, talking about all these hard things. And yet somehow, I mean, in at least in graduate school, I didn’t have a class where we talked about class or money. And now at this point, I’m amazed because it’s something that people’s, people experience extreme distress over and we’re using every day in our life. I mean, they think that be hard pressed to find a clinician who hasn’t had a class about eating and food and and have problems with eating disorders, too. And yet money that’s not our area. Seems like it’s engaging in the same, it’s avoidance. 


Linzy [00:30:11] Yeah, totally. I mean I think that really speaks to just how powerful that taboo is around money, right? It’s like these other things, at least we know we’re supposed to talk about them. We’re like, “Well, even it’s just uncomfortable, we will like, learn how to talk about sexuality with our clients”. But it’s like money, as you say, can still be perceived as this, like dirty, separate, let’s not bring it into the therapeutic relationship, even though, as you say, every day, every day people eat and every day they need to either make money and/or spend money in order to just like survive in the world, right? It’s a non-negotiable. It’s not even like an optional interest topic that might apply. It like literally applies to every single person that we see, as well as all of us as individuals. And yet it’s not taught, not even that it’s not taught robustly. It’s just not taught, period. 


Celeste [00:30:59] Yeah, I mean, I wrote a dissertation on Kink in BDSM at a Catholic university which had its pledges, and yet the big money stuff in large yet has been had more silences, more gaps to in ongoing to than that experience. And and I wonder about what might be possible in terms of a new generation of clinicians in thinking forward and trying to build some of this education into our discussions and training processes in a much less abstract way too. I mean, that is maybe what I bring from my background as well. And what I really appreciated about your course too, is the nuts and bolts are also emotional pieces too, and having that foundation through the course and work allowed me to feel like a more confident, grounded clinician. Even simple things like how I set up my bank accounts. Would you run this through even when they didn’t have any money in them? 


Linzy [00:32:09] Right.  


Celeste [00:32:10] I think I just started my private practice account and I was like, okay, I’m just I trust and trust you, so I’m going to get four bank accounts, even though only one of them has a balance. And we’Il see how this goes. 


Linzy [00:32:24] Yes, Yes.And something about that, you know, Celeste, this is where I was saying the beginning to like you have like, you’re just such a student, right? Like, you know how to learn because I think that’s something that sometimes folks struggle with when they think about doing this work before practicing, right? Like before being in private practice. They’re like “Well, I want to wait until I’m making money. Otherwise there’s nothing to do”. But there’s so much to learn before you do, right? And if we don’t learn before we do, we end up all of this. Like, you know, there was a visual that came to me as you were talking a few minutes ago, of like, kind of like pulling through the muck. It’s like we’re like all of this money, you know, cultural messages, class messages, personal experiences, like all of it. All of it, All of it. We’re trying to kind of like, sort through and make movement. And if we don’t learn about these things early on, we are going to end up creating like practices and systems and relationships with our clients where all this money murkiness is like very much defining it. Whereas you like trusted the process, did it anyways, even though there was literally no money. And in doing so you built something that worked before it was even happening. 


Celeste [00:33:31] Well, I found that making those bank accounts was a doing and was a future oriented effort too in that way, that it was a, it was also an experience of seeing that I had agency in building that future too. And so and that was really that felt so empowering too is to take the actions that are possible in the moment of learning and while they’re possible and then just continue to build on it. And so I just, I don’t have the vision for this yet, but I could see a group of clinicians or people coming together in a way to say like, “how can we really keep this as a core part of curriculum in going forward?” I mean, again, outside my field of practice, but I even wonder about that. You mean how classes use come into other forms of education before we get there? In public school, there’s a lot of classes about many, many topics. And even in all of the calculus, algebra, even economics, which I think covers money stuff, economics I took did not talk about how do you invest your money or how do you structure needs  and wants. That kind of foundation could then help us prepare, is the emotional side of what it means to plan for particular goals or futures or what happens when you have a crisis or if things go awry too. How does money move between people and family members, and then what emotions come up around the ties that money binds too. And there’s ways that we could work across fields for that. 


Linzy [00:35:06] Yeah, like it’s just as you’re saying it, you know, it’s just really sinking to me. Like what a massive omission it is in our education because there’s so much there. And, you know, it makes me curious, Celeste, like, of your perspective, do you think there’s a reason we’re not taught it? Like, is it is the taboo the full reason, or is there a deeper reasons like or other reasons? What do you think? 


Celeste [00:35:27] I believe it benefits power and the, the current system to keep class divisions as well. Even if that’s never said explicitly, I believe what we leave out, you know, we can see this with race and curriculum too, how story is told and what’s not told perpetuates the things that are in the status quo in power, because then it’s not it seems like it’s less possible to say “Wait, look at that there”. 


Linzy [00:35:55] Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. 


Celeste [00:35:56] Students are empowered with knowledge. They can call it into question, engage with it, and and have an access point for change. 


Linzy [00:36:06] Yeah. Yeah. It’s like the system perpetuates itself through education. Yeah. Okay. So for folks who are listening and maybe folks who are listening and like relating and they’re like, this is so much like my story and my experiences. I’m curious, Celeste, or for folks who are maybe stepping into private practice, like what would you suggest as a starting point? Where do they go if they’re feeling like all of these things are? They’re ostraging. And all of these things are stacked against them, like what is a starting place to start to build a more empowered relationship with money. Get where they want to go.


Celeste [00:36:42]  I really feel like I started with Money Skills for Therapists, so I have to lay that out there. It was so foundational in getting to this discussion today. In addition to that too, I really start talking to others about it. I mean, like, that’s the most important aspect there is begin to have the conversations with money, with supervisors, with colleagues, with friends and family. See how it feels too and what’s possible to find that edge, I’ll say, and notice what kind of emotions come up around it. You start to bring awareness and money awareness into one’s, one’s psyche and as much as possible in a non-judgmental way, because so much judgment can come up around it or to notice the judgments too. I find that so helpful in my clinical practice, really to make that explicit, whether it’s like keeping a log and writing it down and really looking at it and saying, “Now I believe that. Does it necessarily mean that it’s true?”. 


Linzy [00:37:43] Yeah, right. Yeah. And like, you know, I’m, I’m hearing there like a being with, that’s starting to create some distance because these stories are running in our minds whether we’re vocalizing them or not. So if we start to externalize them, whether that’s to like a journal or talking to your best friend or having a conversation, asking your mom some questions about money, then we’re actually putting those things out loud and starting to create the opportunity for some like distance and for maybe those to start to be shifted or at least questioned or softened. Because, you know, they’re so powerful. The stories that we carry and the experiences that we have and yet so often we never fully vocalize and actually put words to the thoughts that are bouncing around our heads all the time about money. Awesome. Thank you. Thank you so much, Celeste. It was wonderful talking to you today. I really appreciate you coming on the podcast. 


Celeste [00:38:31] Thanks. It’s been great too. 


Linzy [00:38:32] And Celeste, before we finish up, is there anywhere you want to direct folks who are listening to the podcast, any resources or things you’d like to share with them? 


Celeste [00:38:40] So for anyone in the New York City area, I like to put out a plug for Greene clinic in Brooklyn. It’s a community based, psycho dynamically oriented training clinic and center too, that provides affordable and sliding scale psychotherapy individuals, couples, children and adolescents, as well as some options for art therapy. With a mission to help prepare clinicians and training for their future careers, as well as to provide services to the broader community. And so the website is www.greeneclinic.com. 


Linzy [00:39:20] Greene like the name. Great. Thank you. Celeste. 


Celeste [00:39:24] Thank you. 


Linzy [00:39:37] I really appreciated Celeste coming on the podcast today and talking about her experiences and also talking about, you know, just this pervasive lack of education about money and, you know, thinking about class and who does learn about money, who’s assumed that they’re going to have money and should know how to manage it, who doesn’t? And it just makes me feel very grateful that, you know, Celeste and I’m sure other wonderful supervisors out there are at least starting to have these conversations about money with their supervisees, you know, pre licensed. So folks are getting the support earlier in their professional journeys. I mean, the ideal, obviously, is that we would be getting financial education at home when our kids like when we’re four years old and then in grade two and in grade five and all the way through. Maybe this will be my next career will be getting financial education into public schools so that kids actually have literacy and skills around money from the very start. That would be the dream. But, you know, I think the second best is getting it into our professional education, you know, and making influence or having positive influence on the therapists who are who are coming up and who are stepping into this space and can benefit from learning the things that some of us, some of you listing have already learned and started to put into play around your relationship with money. 


Linzy [00:40:55] If you can impart some of those things to someone who’s newer in their journey, it’s an amazing gift. It’s going to save them a lot of headache and pain. And as Celeste mentioned, she took Money Skills before she even started her practice. And that’s something that I often suggest to folks, if it’s possible doing Money Skills before you even start your practice. As we talked about, let’s you, set yourself up for success before you even have money to manage. You get to do the learning before you actually, do the learning, but as she said, also like putting things in place, like building out a system before you’ve already had your relationship with money and your negative stories around money impact the way that you shape your practice. That’s a beautiful thing. But of course, always the second best thing is that we learn from exactly where we are today. So if you’re listening and you feel like there’s so much to learn about money and you’ve set things up wrong and you’re ostraging like Celeste, I love her suggestion of just start having conversations with folks around you. You know that Money Skills for Therapists exists and that support is there for you as well. And I would love to help you in this work. It’s powerful talking about money, that lack of education has a huge impact on us and anything we can do to start to break the silence and build skills and help the people around us build skills is powerful. 


Linzy [00:42:06] If you’d like to follow me on Instagram, you can find me @moneynutsandbolts And if you’re enjoying the podcast, please jump over to Apple Podcasts and leave a review. It is the best way for folks to find us. Thanks for listening today. 

Hi, I'm Linzy

Hi, I'm Linzy

I’m a therapist in private practice, and a the creator of Money Skills for Therapists. I help therapists and health practitioners in private practice feel calm and in control of their finances.

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