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Finances and Counseling in the Time of COVID-19

Many problem gambling counselors have learned that exploring the complex – and sometimes tangled or thorny – role that money plays in clients’ lives is critical as part of the therapy process. Understanding how financial stress impacts the well-being of individuals and families is a key component of problem gambling recovery.   But many problem gambling counselors have shied away from going too in-depth with clients during discussions around financial issues. 

If ever there was a time to get out of our comfort zone and look financial issues squarely in the eye, it’s now.  COVID-19 is fraught with unknowns – from a health standpoint and from a financial health standpoint. We watch as unemployment soars and fears of a recession loom over us.  While there may be no easy answers or quick fixes, Brian Farr offers one relatively simple way to help clients get a clear picture of what’s going on with their household finances – his SNAPSHOT worksheet.

The SNAPSHOT is just one financial worksheet that Farr has developed, but this one can quickly help clients make sense of their monthly income and expenses.  As he explained in Counseling Today, “It’s not a budget or even a spending plan, but just a clear picture of financial reality for this family.”  Farr is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Financial Therapist working in Portland, Oregon.  He entered the counseling profession after a 22-year career in the business world, including founding partner of an investment management firm, professional commodity trader, and member of the Chicago Board of Trade.

This background has allowed Farr to develop tools for mental health and addictions counselors. These tools can help both counselors and clients gain understanding and knowledge, which allows them to plan and, perhaps, find some peace of mind, if not some control, in these unsettling times.  But we can’t sit back  — we must take the steps to find the courage to control those things that are within our power to control. That’s as true for counselors as it is for clients.  Use the SNAPSHOT worksheet for yourself – to expand your own awareness and to get comfortable using this simple tool with your clients.  You may find yourself with more time on your hands these days – why not use some of it to strengthen your own financial literacy; and help your clients do the same.

Brian H. Farr, MA, LPCThe video below explains how to use the simple SNAPSHOT worksheet I have been using with Financial Therapy clients since 2004. Completing this worksheet will provide a quick and valuable snapshot of household income and expenses for you, your clients, or anyone else who wants clarity around their personal finances. 
–Brian H. Farr, MA, LPC

(It’s helpful to download and print the SNAPSHOT worksheet before you get started)