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A Day In The Life: Meet Expatriate Relocation Specialist Jill Kristal, Ph.D

Jill Kristal, PhD of Transitional Learning
Jill Kristal, PhD of Transitional Learning

Have you ever known a psychologist who specializes in helping expatriates through relocation transitions? Me neither. Talk about an interesting niche! So, how does one develop this kind of specialization?

While living in London, England Clinical Psychologist Jill Kristal, Ph.D. of Transitional Learning was instrumental in transforming the US Embassy internal counseling center into The American Counseling Center, a community based organization hiring American trained and licensed therapists to work with the expatriate community. Since returning to the US, Dr. Kristal has continued to work with expatriates, served as Special Education Consultant to School Choice International and established a private practice in Larchmont, NY. With over 20 years in private practice, Dr. Kristal has worked with with children of all ages, adults and couples.

Peek into a day in Dr. Kristal’s life.

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Top 10 Posts of 2011 on

It’s always fun to see which posts catch your interest over 12 months. Looking back over 2012 the top posts are a mix of music, personal posts, parenting tips, marriage topics, and mental and emotional health advice…and that list just about sums up my life!

A big surprise is #1 — guess you haven’t forgotten that I’ve been a performing songwriter for, oh, 25 years. But, the biggest surprise on this top 10 list is #2 because I only posted it last week! So, many of you have shared it with friends and family online. Thank you.

Thank you for sharing my articles and posts, for great blog discussions and social media comments, and coming to live events this year. I am grateful to have you as part of my “virtual” family.

OK…so here’s the top 10 posts of 2011…

  1. 3 Generations of Azevedo Performed in Church Today
  2. Letter To Santa That Made Me Cry
  3. How To Stop Overreacting and Keep Your Cool
  4. To Forgive Or Not To Forgive?
  5. National TV Appearance On Nov 3 Secretly Pregnant on Discovery Health
  6. Tuesday Tunes: Window To His Love
  7. Avoiding Parenting Clashes With College-aged Kids
  8. Q&A: Is Date Night Too Much To Ask? & I’m Never In The Mood!
  9. 8 Surefire Ways To Emotionally Mess Up Your Kid
  10. Keep Your Marriage Emotionally HOT

I am a social media lover so I hope you’ll stay connected in 2012.

Best Of Private Practice Toolbox 2011

As 2011 comes to a close, I wanted to review which posts have had the most views since I launched this blog in August 2011.  It also gives me an idea of which topics are most relevant and interesting to other mental health private practitioners. Is your favorite article on this list?

Here are the most viewed articles for 2011:

  1. What I wish I’d Know Before Starting A Private Practice
  2. A Day In the Life Of A Private Practice Therapist
  3. 5 Self-care Tips For Therapists
  4. 8 Real-world Marketing Strategies From Successful Therapists
  5. Getting 3 F’s In Private Practice Is A Good Thing
  6. Multiple Income Streams Soothe Therapist’s Financial Anxiety (part 1)
  7. Therapist Roll Call: Join The Private Practice Twitter List
  8. Why Therapists Need An Elevator Speech (part 1)
  9. 5 Free Ways To Market Your Therapy Practice
  10. Facebook Pages For Therapists: How To Set Up A Practice Page

I’d love to know which posts have been most helpful to you in creating your dream practice during 2011.

Do you have any areas of practice that you need help with? Please post any specific private practice questions or practice related topics that you’d be interested in hearing more about in the coming year in the comment box below.

Happy New Year!

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New Year’s Resolutions Without Guilt

Resolution time again. To do lists get pulled out and we add to them our resolutions for the new year. Too frequently though, by February 1, our list of good intentions has been relegated to the junk drawer due to failed attempts. We’re left feeling down or guilty for what we didn’t do. But, what if the answer to avoiding the guilt was to simplify and not make a to do list?

You’re probably asking yourself, “How can I reach a New Year’s resolution if I don’t write it down? Isn’t that the first rule of goal setting?” Don’t panic. Writing down things to do and ways to improve can be a helpful tool in becoming who you want to be. But the trouble with to do lists is not that we use them, it’s how we use them.

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Ask Julie: How Bad Is It For A Grown Woman To Move Home?

Q: I recently got laid off, and right now my rent is almost due.  My brother thinks that if I can’t find a job I should move home, actually scratch that, he thinks I should be home even if I have a job.

My mom passed away a month ago, and he’s afraid that my father doesn’t want to be alone.  Regardless of the fact that my dad says that he wants his space now, my brother can’t seem to get that.  Also I told him that if I have a job, and can pay my own way, what difference does it make where I live?  He said that I should be at home to save money.  He thinks it will be permanent, and my Dad and I say temporary. I don’t understand that since I am 41, my brother should have no say in what I do and don’t do with my money, but when I try to tell him, he gets all mad at me and says that I am selfish.  I don’t understand why he is doing this to me, he says it will be better for both me and my father, but I disagree, my father yes, but not me.  How do I make him understand that what I do with my finances is my business and as long as I don’t get help from anyone he has no say in it.

A: I am sorry about your job loss and the death of your mother last month. That is a lot of transitions in a short period of time.

It sounds like you are very clear that you don’t want to move home, if at all possible. So my question for you is why do you care so much about pleasing your brother? You are 41 years old and the great thing about being an adult is that you don’t have to have discussions that you don’t want to have, and you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.  You can’t make your brother understand your point of view, but you can show him that your finances are not his business by not discussing it with him, and by letting go of trying to gain his approval. What are you afraid of if your brother is mad at you or thinks that you are selfish right now?

It sounds to me that he’s less worried about your money issues and more worried about your dad who now lives alone and just lost his companion. Having you move home may be an easy way to alleviate his worries about your father living alone because it makes sense logically to him. “You’re unemployed so why don’t you move home to save money and take care of dad?” seems to be his message to you. You are both talking about the topics instead of the emotions that go along with the death of a parent and concern about the parent who’s left behind.

I suggest that instead of trying to get his approval or convince him that it’s not good for you to move in with dad, you cut right to the core issue which seems to be exploring together how the two of you are going to work together to help dad through his grief and loneliness, and to make sure that he is safe and taken care of, and how you can support each other at this time of loss.

Take good care of you and yours.

Julie Hanks, LCSW

Happy Holidays To My Fellow Shrinks

As 2011 comes to a close I am incredibly grateful to John Grohol PsyD and the PsychCentral team for the amazing opportunity to create “Private Practice Toolbox” blog this year. It’s been delightful to get to know so many therapist and learn more about the ups and downs of your private practice experiences and I look forward to an amazing 2012! Let me know how I can be a resource for you to build your dream practice.

Send me your private practice questions or concerns here

Join my Private Practice Toolbox Newsletter

Learn more about private practice consultations


Christmas Wishes From Julie

As 2011 comes to a close I’m filled with gratitude for the many associations I’ve had with you over this year. Whether it’s professionally, personally, or virtually, I am grateful for your friendship and support. 2011 has been an amazing year filled with new opportunities to help make the world a better place in some small way and I couldn’t have done it without you.

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas an Happy New Year. Here’s to 2012!

My 5 Year Old Cut Her Own Hair!: Studio 5

Call it every mom’s nightmare – when their little girl gets a hold of the scissors and chops off their long locks. So how do you deal with that dramatic parenting situation? We asked Studio 5 Contributor Julie Hanks LCSW her reaction when her 5-year-old daughter did this a few days ago, and what tips she has for parents.


The damage…


Here hair used to be this long…


After the repair hair cut–all is well


Letter To Santa That Made Me Cry

Last Christmas Eve, my 8 year old son left this letter next to Santa’s milk and cookies. It was one of those priceless moments in my life…


“Thanks for brining presents but iff you think I don’t need it than give it to people who doesn’t get presents.”

Merry Christmas.

Who’s Talking About You Online? Find Out With Google Alerts

Do you know who’s talking about you and your practice on the web? If not, you should. My favorite way to to track who’s talking is through Google alerts. Google alerts sends me an email whenever they come across “Julie Hanks” or “Wasatch Family Therapy” on the web. It’s a quick and easy to see what information your name is being associated with, where you’re being mentioned, who’s quoting you, and more.

If nothing pops up about you and your practice on the web via Google Alerts over several months, that’s helpful information too. If Google can’t find you, then it’s likely that you’re potential clients can’t find you either. To learn more about Google searches read my article Does Google Love Your Therapy Practice?.

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