Monday, November 12, 2012

Unemployment Woes and Coping Skills

The elections are over. President Obama won his second term. Unemployment has increased in Massachusetts over the past few months despite modest gains. What is the real story in Massachusetts? As an observer, I am hearing that many older workers over the age of 45 years old are having a difficult time finding gainful employment. Why is this so? The answer is age discrimination. It is a fact that older workers cost employers more money to hire. For those who may not know, health insurance costs go up when an employer hires an older worker as well as having to pay most of them a competitive higher salary than a younger worker. When one attends workshops at the career centers at the unemployement offices, majority of the attendees are older workers who have been laid off after working for an employer for a long time. Ironically, when many of these workers go for interviews, they are being interviewed by employees twenty years younger than them.

The common responses some of them hear are that "they are not qualifed for the job" when in fact they worked in that field for a long time. Also, some of these older workers have been bullied out of their jobs so their employer can hire younger workers. Unfortunately, it is difficult to prove age discrimination since majority of these cases are not from a protected class.

Some of the jobs that older workers are finding are low paying retail jobs with some health benefits if they are able to afford it. Or finding fee for service jobs in healthcare or commission jobs that take awhile to build up for gainful employment. Furthermore, there is one program that only hires older workers who are income eligible. They work a part-time human service job for one year while collecting benefits. If they are lucky, the employer may hire them if funds are available. I would like to see the statistics on how many of these workers do get hired from this program.

What can be done to increase gainful employment among older workers? Here are some tips:
1) Contact your state or federal representatives to inform them of your difficulties in finding gain employment. Tell them that age discrimination is causing you to not be hired.

2) Attend local support groups and classes in your town such as the Shrewsbury Public Library that can provide you with resources in your job search.

3) Blog about your experiences so politicians can learn about your experiences being unemployed.

4) See a counselor if you need to vent about your frustrations and learn some coping skills to get you through these difficult times.

5) Exercise! Exercise! Exercise!!! The adrenaline rush can help you find creative ways to find work or ideas to network.

6) Network! Network! Network! Attend meetings at the local chamber of commerce in your area.

7)Continue to attend workshops at your local career centers at the unemployment offices. Work with your job counselor to find opportunities and unadvertised positions.

8) Social media outlets such as Linkedin can be helpful though I don't know the statistics on how many people find gainful employment.

9) Remember to take deep breaths when you need a break from your job search. If you can work a part-time job while looking for gainful employment, do so but remember to report your earnings to unemployment.

10) Support the Massachusetts Healthy Workplace Bill H.2310 to prevent and to give workers much added protections in the workplace. Steps have been put in to prevent unnecessary lawsuits

8) Social media outlets such as Linkedin can be helpful though I don't know the statistics on how many people find gainful employment.

9) Remember to take deep breaths when you need a break from your job search. If you can work a part-time job while looking for gainful employment, do so but remember to report your earnings to unemployment.

10) Support the Massachusetts Healthy Workplace Bill H.2310 to prevent and to give workers much added protections in the workplace. Steps have been put in to prevent unnecessary lawsuits

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Rise in Teen Gambling

Did you know that 9.5% of youth are affected by problem gambling in Massachusetts? Did you also know that 2.8% of youth are identifed as having pathological/compulsive gambling problems in Massachusetts? What is the difference between problem gambling and pathological/compulsive gambling? Answer: The former is abuse and the latter is an addiction. Question: What is the main source of gambling for youths? Answer: Internet gaming. Question: What is one way youths pay to engage in gambling activities? Answer: They buy prepaid credit cards in the local stores. I could not believe how problem and pathological gambling is a growing problem for our youth. While it is no surprise that many use the internet to gamble, it is now a major public health issue for this population. People often ask what are the similarities between substance abuse and problem/pathological gambling. The common factors that cause these behaviors are emotional difficulties; impulsivity; and stress. Both also involve a loss of control. On brain scans, it shows that the same pathways and cells not only light up but also an increase in size for the neural pathways and an increase in the number of cells growing. The major differences between the above addictions are problem gambling involves getting instant rewards and bailouts from family members/friends who pay for their debts. Here two basic questions as a screening tool to ask your child/teen who may be having a problem with gambling: 1)Have you ever felt the need to bet more and more money? 2) Have you ever had to lie to people important to you about how much you gamble? If you answered "Yes" to one or both questions, please contact the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling at 1-800-426-1234. There is a website designed for and by teens on problem gambling at I found the above information to be very helpful in increasing my professional knowledge and awareness as a professional counselor in Shrewsbury. I thank the Massachusetts Compulsive Gambling for providing this training on this topic to providers

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

From the Office of Robbin Miller, LMHC

Educational Services Now Being Offered and Starting in June 2012.
“Acomplishing your Goals One at a Time.”

The following are educational services being offered for a fee. Please note that insurance companies do not pay for them as they are considered informational and not out of medical necessity.

Adoption Choices: How to Stay Sane and Balanced

Are you curious about the options involved in wanting to adopt a child? As a parent of an adopted child, I learned the ins and outs from various resources over the years. While it took my spouse and five years to adopt, we learned how agencies don’t tell you everything you need to know due to their hidden agendas.

1) Learn about the three options to adopt.
2) Learn about questions to ask adoption agencies
3) Preparing for the homestudy visit
Fee: $ 150.00 for an hour and half

The ABC’s of Advocacy:

Do you know how to advocate for yourself in the following areas:
Where You Live

1) Learn how to organize your thoughts and issues on paper
2) Learn about different tools that can be used to advocate for yourself.

Please note that the workshop is for informational purposes only.

Fee: $ 60.00 an hour.

Career Coaching:

Are you starting a new job after college graduation?
Are you anxious about your career path?
Do you feel overwhelmed in managing your career with your personal life?

1) Learn how to sort through your thought patterns and feelings. What are the hidden meanings behind them?
2) Learn how to plan short and long term options
3) Learn about developing a wellness plan to create the healthy balance in your life.

Fee: $ 35.00 an hour for graduates of higher education.

Financial Education:

Do you know how to budget?
The decision to choose a consolidation companies: non-profit vs for profit
1) Learn about different ways to budget your money that works for you.
2) Learn about the ins/outs of consolidation companies
Fee: $ 40.00 for an hour.

For more information, please email at or call me at 508-450-5593.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Support Anti-Bullying Laws in the Workplace

I am hearing from all fronts of the increased incidents of workers being bullied by either their co-workers/supervisors in their places of employment. Currently advocates are pushing for a bill entitled, the Massachusettes Healthly Workplace law,that would make bullying a criminal act and will enable employees to seek damages against the employee and/or against their employer. Unfortunately, employees who suffer or endure workplace bullying have no legal recourse unless the behaviors are proven to be discriminatory in nature by a third party.

Please note that there were be provisions in place to prevent frivolous lawsuits.

Workplace bullying is defined as:

" targeted, health-endangering mistreatment of a worker by a supervisor or co-worker." (

Examples of bullying behaviors include loud and abusive language, false accusations, isolation, purposely withholding of information, negative and offensive emails, sabotage, and unequitable heavy work demands and expectations.

What are the psychological and physical costs associated with bullying in the workplace? Workers suffer from:

1) Anxiety attacks
2) Clinical depression
3) Post-Traumatic Disorders
4) High Blood Pressure
5) Heart Disease
6) Nighmares
7) Other physical conditions

I endured workplace bullying from a former supervisor at an adult foster care program two years ago. She accused me of not following her directions and not doing my work after telling me a month earlier that I was performing satisfactory on the job. She forced me to repeat back her directions to her where her face turned bright red and her neck muscles tensed up. She demanded answers from me on why I was not following her directions. In fact, when she met with my counterpart two hours earlier to discuss the same issues we were both having, she gave her positive feedback and guidance on how to do a better job while I received the above treatment. My colleague told me this information when we met after my meeting with the supervisor.

What was her motive? It seemed to be that she wanted to make my counterpart, who was twenty years younger than me with no experience working with the aged, a full-time employee who was working part-time at the time. I can never forget during the month of July 2009 how she quickly made up three insubordination reports in a matter of weeks against me. I informed human resources and her supervisor about her mistreatment towards me at work. Unfortunately, they ignored my pleas and,instead, played along with her devious tactics to get me terminated. Though, I suffered from minor clinical depression and intensed anxiety during this time, my world changed for the better after I was fired. A few days later in August, I received a surprised telephone call that a boy needed to be adopted out of state. The higher power provided me with a different perspective on what was important to me in my life and a change in my career.

Unfortunately, there is no legal recourse for me to sue her in court for bullying me since Massachusetts has not passed a law yet. My case was found to not be age discrimination by a third party due to their narrowed and biased viewpoints of considering all the facts objectively.

I decided to move on by telling my story and promoting the above bill. I also work with individuals who have suffered from workplace bullying by providing them coping skills and educating them on the psychological nature of bullies.

I have forgiven the bully supervisor by understanding that her actions toward me no longer have control over my life. I believe in the universal paradigm that "What comes around, goes around." It is not me who has to make amends with the higher power and with your soul. I am ay peace by refocusing my energies on doing things in my life that bring my joy and purpose in my life. If I happen to see her again in a public setting, I will ignore her.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Ten Tips for Starting a Private Practice

1) Locate an office site so you can start the process of applying for insurance panels. Whether you use your home or pay rent for space, all health insurance providers need your address to start the ball rolling. If you just want to do private pay, you still need an office location to start your marketing plan and networking with others.

2) In Massachusetts, mental health professionals have to register for the CAQH-Council Accreditation for Qualty Healthcare-for insurance panels to get their information on their credentials. The CAQH is a two hour process to fill out the information required for panels to access your information. The CAQH is designed as s “one shop stopping place” for professionals to document their credentialing information so all insurance panels can get the same information.

3) Pick and choose insurance panels you want to apply to. Some are open to new providers, others are not. One insurance panel is closed to all new mental health providers in my area although there are less providers in this panel to service the mental health needs of their clients. It is important to be a “Nag” in calling these panels to verify that you received your information and checking up when you will be approved.

4) If you are interested, you may want to apply to Employee Assistance Program panels to get referrals. You can get a list of such providers by googling “EAPs” or going through your local telephone book or through word of mouth. There are national EAPs as well as local ones in your area. Each EAP have their own pay scale on how much providers get paid for their service. On a side note, it took me five years to get on one EAP panel after management replaced all its workers this year. Apparently, someone at this company did not want me to serve as an EAP provider due to not wanting to upset their colleague who counsels ADHD clients like I do.

5) Check out local office supplies and websites for getting business cards and other office items. I find that is one of the best websites to order business cards. Once you get on their email list, they send you daily different offers to attract your business. Some providers also use Staples or Office Depot to order their business cards as well.

6) There are also businesses and websites that offer low costs for building your website. I found that having a website did not bring me any business. It is an individual decision to decide if investing in a website is worth your time and money.

7) Networking with Primary Care Offices is a wonderful way to attract business. I found that after getting one client from a PCP’s office resulted in me being put on their list for clients to refer to for mental health referrals.

If you want to earn money for your business, do workshops for a reasonable fee on topics relevant to their employees. For example, I will be conducting a few trainings for a local healthcare provider in the fall for their staff. My goal is be on their permanent list as a trainer for their staffing needs. In the past, I have done a few workshops where I have been invited back on a yearly basis to conduct future trainings.

9) Another way to attract private pay clients is to take their co-pays while you want to approved by their insurance panels. Some providers are doing this as a way to attract new business to their practice. You can also offer a sliding scale fee as well.

10) Blogging for free for local newspaper sites is a great way to get your name out. I blog for one local newspaper for free since the beginning of summer. However, I don’t use my credentials due to liability purposes. I do have folks in my town reading my blogs as the word is getting out.

It is up to you to put the time and effort in to start your private practice. Some colleagues are hiring others to do their “footwork” for them in getting on insurance panels. I heard mixed reports from a few who hired others to help them and were not happy the results. It is up to you.


Robbin Miller is a counselor who specializes in mindfulness meditation; Positive Psychology; and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapies; and is also a volunteer cable access producer and co-host of her show, “Miller Chat” in Massachusetts.