I spoke on my podcast with noted psychotherapist, Will Meyerhofer. He deals with heavy hitters on Wall Street, the NYC legal world and entertainment professionals. He pulls no punches.
While I have written before on the psychological perils of legal practice and Wall Street (The Death of a Profession: Law’s Long, Bitter Descent and Its Tragic Human Toll), there is nothing like speaking with someone who is in the trenches helping people deal with the modern (and misunderstood) strains of the professions. Will has been there and walks the walk.
Will holds a BA, magna cum laude, from Harvard University, a JD from the New York University School of law and a Master of Social Work from the Hunter College School of Social Work. Since 2005, he has been operating his private practice, A Quiet Room, offering individual, couples and group psychotherapy from his home, a loft in TriBeCa, in Lower Manhattan.
In late 2010 Will released his first book, Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy, an introduction to the concepts and philosophy underlying psychotherapy. During 2011, Will released a second book, Way Worse Than Being a Dentist – the Lawyer’s Quest for Meaning, based on material from his columns on law and psychotherapy from AboveTheLaw.com. A former associate in the General Practice group at Sullivan & Cromwell LLC, Will is an acknowledged expert on psychotherapy and lawyers,
Tell us a bit about your background . . . How did you go from working at a white shoe law firm in NYC to becoming a psychotherapist?
A sizable part of your practice comes from the worlds of NYC lawyers, Wall Street and business. These are intense people, many of them unique in their own ways. Are there any universal traits that surround them?
Why do they come to you?
What are your clients struggling with?
How do you discuss vulnerability for these types of clients.
Do you have a process to help them open up?
Are there times when they never open up?
Long hours + “talent” should equal success, which should lead to money, prestige, fame. What happens when their progress doesn’t measure up to their expectation? How do you help clients who feel inadequate when their numbers don’t measure up to their neighbors?
What happens when they feel behind, passed over or a sense of failure?
What happens when the numbers and the trappings aren’t enough?
Are they trapped by success? Have they taken on more responsibility at work and at home and built golden cages?
Do they feel Impostor syndrome? I.e. How do they reconcile that luck can be involved with success? Do they belittle their own achievement?
Do they have trouble appreciating the forces that are beyond their control?
For the client that “feels unhappy” or “lost” and has trouble verbalizing their problems- how do you structure the conversation to get them to tell you their truth (even if they don’t quite know what that is)?
The practice of law is far different than what is portrayed in the media (and even in law school). Do you notice clients that feel cheated or misled by that phenomenon?
We know by conjecture the punishing hours involved and the litter of paradoxes and inequities. What else is it about the practice of law and finance that creates such hurt?
What traits in your clients seem to be universal?
How do you unwind depression and cognitive distortion issues from chemical issues? For the uninitiated, does one drive the other?
You deal with artists, writers and other creative types, is there anything about their endeavors that makes their problems different? Is the currency of their self-esteem different from the other professionals? Is financial hardship measured differently? And does it have more impact?
For those that need help, what is the best thing for them to do?
What is the best way to keep in touch with you?