The Career Doctor™

by Dr. Jacqueline Hornor Plumez

Looking for a first job? Thinking of changing careers? Facing a lay-off? The Career Doctor™ is a Larchmont psychologist specializing in career counseling. If you'd like to ask a question of your own, use the anonymous , and she might answer you here. Read more about the Career Doctor here. Contact in ation is here.


Dear Career Doctor:

I lost my job two weeks ago and I have been very, very anxious ever since. Even though I have a decent severance package and some savings, I have nightmares about losing my house. I also don't know how to tell my kids -- I'm afraid of how they may react. I think I can get another job, but who knows in this economy.


Dear Marco:

The first thing to do is to stop "catastrophizing" -- scaring yourself by assuming you will lose your house, or your kids will not be able to cope with the fact that you got fired. There is a big difference between assuming a catastrophe is going to occur, (which just makes a person anxious) and making a rational plan about what to do "if" the worst happens. So concentrate on rational planning.

It is good for kids to see a parent facing a problem and staying calm while working hard trying to solve it. This will make you a great role model for how they can cope when they face a problem in their life.

Tell the kids a positive version of the truth: that you have lost your job, and you are working to find a new one. If the kids are old enough to understand about spending money, also say that everyone will have to begin saving money until you get a new one. Let the family work together to come up with ideas about how to cut the budget. Kids will feel good if they can contribute something to the savings. (I have worked with many people who felt guilty when their parents cut back in hard times but continued to indulge them.)

If the kids ask about keeping the house, tell them that there is no problem for now and that the most important thing is that you will always be together. Kids just want to know that their parents will be with them and keep them safe. (While no kid wants to lose a home, feeling safe has much more to do with having loving parents than living in a house.)

Focus on loving each other and trying to have fun together -- coming up with creative ways to have inexpensive fun with family and friends. And don't forget to continue to have the family give to people who are less fortunate than you are. It is a great lesson (and reassuring to kids), for example, buy some extra groceries to donate to a food pantry or to give a donation however small, to help "people who need this more than we do."

The Career Doctor



The Career Doctor™ is Larchmont psychologist and career counselor, Dr. Jacqueline Hornor Plumez.

Her office is at 90 Beechtree Drive in Larchmont, 914-834-1982.

For more in ation go to