New Standard of Living

One of the biggest adjustments I hear about from new olim, which I’m sure happens to immigrants from all over, is adjusting to a new standard of living. For people who are rich I think this adjustment is relatively easy…I mean duh! But when money is tight that’s a different story.

Since I’ve always worked with kids I’m used to not getting paid a decent wage. In grad school I had three jobs because the pay was so crappy and I knew that these jobs were stepping stones. Jobs that would introduce me to the ins and out’s of the mental health system so that I could be employable once I graduated. The ironic thing is that I started started graduate school just when the market was crashing and by the time I was looking for job (after graduation) the market had not fully rebounded. I spent the year unemployed.

Over the past 3 years I have worked and got a decent amount of money as compensation. The first year I was worried about money so I spent very little. I did save but not a lot, I wasn’t good at it. The point is I had a decent salary and was able to accumulate things that I both needed and wanted. As I embrace on my aliyah journey, I cant help but be slapped with the irony that I am starting all over.

I am going to be immigrating into Israeli society. I do not know the cultural norms or how the system works. This will all take time. As I look for jobs I notice that the pay is not listed. This is common across Israel with regards to all aspects of the economy. What do I mean? If I want to go furniture shopping not at ikea I can search online for furniture stores and I’ll find some. They show off their beautiful furniture and you look at it going “nice” “nice”. But you know what’s missing? the price of said item. I’ve realized that this is how competition is controlled. The only way for you to know how much something costs is to physically go down to the store. I’ve even heard people calling up the store and asking about a price only to be told that they don’t tell prices over the phone. Well things become more intimate when you walk into a store and begin th search. 

So this has me thinking about adjusting to the new standard of living. People make a lot less here, unless course you are in hi-tech then you can make some money. If I want to continue working with children, which I do, I’m looking at making about 6-7,000 shekel (roughly $2,000) a month. The good thing about this is that usually working at a school I’m only working in the morning, until about 2 or maybe 3. This gives me time to work a second part time job (yay). So this will be how I will introduce my private practice. If I can find a job that pays in the above range and then have my practice maybe 10 hours a week then I’m feeling pretty good. My ultimate goal within the next couple years is to have a full time private practice. It’s a game of patience. Again something else I’m constantly working on. 

I am expecting that I will need to be working at two different locations, and I’ve also decided that I’m not going to be accepting insurance here in Israel but I will do a sliding scale fee. 

So one of the reasons for compiling this blog is that I want to see if I can make the same amount of money every month that I made in the states. Even if I’m mixing between two jobs thats ok as long as the take home is what I want/need/deserve. 

Full time gan reacher/assistant: 8-2/3=6-7 hours/week=7,000 shekels

Part time Therapist: 10-15 hours/week=5,000 shekels 

I want my take home pay with all my jobs to be 14,000 shekel/month 

What keeps going through my mind is that I have a masters degree. I have worked hard and did my sacrificing in my early 20’s to finally be stable and make a decent pay. As I wrote before I really think this is a huge reason why we Americans struggle with making aliyah and why some eventually return home. I don’t want finances to be the reason that I don’t stay. I’m flying back to my home in the states and I’m missing Israel. It’s so surprising to me that this soon I’d be missing my home…the home to which I don’t have a job or an apartment.

So one of the things I’ve been thinking about is how to educate new Olim about Israeli society, particularly with regards to career. As this trip has taught me, and to which no online research was able to teach me, is that Psychotherapy/Counseling is not regulated. Anyone can call themselves a therapist and it’s not something the Ministry of education is cracking down on. You can’t call yourself a Social Worker or Psychologist thought because those are regulated and you need to go through the necessary steps to get your degree recognized by the Ministry of Education. 

More important in my area of specialization/field, child trauma therapy there is a whole procedure around disclosures and prosecution of child abusers/pedophiles. In the states and specifically in California I know how the government and prosecutions work. I know how social services work and the numbers to call when I suspect abuse. I don’t know if there is a website in English for therapists to navigate this. 

So I think that my practice in Israel will be to support English speakers, primarily Americans as they navigate the challenges of their aliyah. I will of course continue to work with child abuse and I think it’s important for me to continue networking and making sure that people refer to me. Also I do wonder about a space for African-Americans who have made aliyah and wanting counseling services. Again I think this is a niche I can sow up quickly.  So here is how I will brand myself:

  1. Child Trauma Therapist for English speakers-Has your child been abused? Are you an adult who has experienced abuse in your childhood and your finding that it’s rearing it’s head and sabotaging your relationships? Your looking to connect with a therapist who speaks your language and understands your Anglo culture?
  2. African-American Therapist here to help you with your managing aspects of this new culture. How to find yourself and achieve the fulfillment you desire when making aliyah? Maybe you just want to work with someone who understands the dynamics of being an African-American jew in Israel.
  3. Adjusting to a new culture can be very hard…we struggle all the time in our interactions in Israel but how nice would it be to not struggle? To work with a therapist who speaks your language, who has made aliyah too and understands the ins and outs of not knowing what’s going on and feeling overwhelmed (wanting to give up) but also wanting to be successful? 

So I will work with children, teens and adults. 

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