Dissatisfaction with their careers, relationship problems with managers, co-workers, or direct reports, and reduced interest in work often bring clients to my office. As many of us spend two-thirds or more of our waking time performing work-related activities, distress that surrounds work often becomes an issue that needs to be addressed through psychotherapy. For many professionals, the days of 9-to-5 jobs are long gone, replaced with more flexible schedules in exchange for employees being available outside of the regular work hours. On the one hand, many people report higher job satisfaction through work being more flexible. On the other hand, work responsibilities put strain on family and personal relationships, or push out all other aspects of people’s lives.
Work and money are generally closely linked to each other, since values and actions related to one generally reinforce values and actions related to the other. When values and actions regarding work and money become incompatible, psychological distress occurs. My work with clients often involves exploring the meaning of work and money in clients’ lives, and devising strategies to balance their demands with the demands of other important aspects of their lives.
Whether you have immigrated to the US from another country or just moved across state lines to Southern California, there are challenges that often arise when attempting to find your place in such a big, diverse, and sprawling urban area. For many clients, outward values of LA culture clash with the traditions of their culture-of-origin, creating a sense of loneliness, isolation and/or internal conflict. Building personal friendships or finding a romantic relationship in a city with six million people may feel like an impossible task.
Challenges surrounding acculturation can also be reawakened many years after a person has acclimated to the life in LA. A visit to a home town, a random meet up with people from the old world, or an experience of having children who are growing up in the US and who are rejecting clients’ values can all trigger feelings that have been believed to have been fully dealt with in the past.