I frequently get requests that I answer asks or emails privately. Some people also request in-depth analysis of specific situations (like transcripts of conversations), or want to chat live. Other times, people ask me to remove their letter after I’ve published it with an answer.
Unfortunately, I can’t give private advice without compensation. I would absolutely love to, and that’s why I can’t allow myself to do it. Helping people and giving advice is something I find it fulfilling and enjoyable, so I often find myself doing it for free. But I could literally spend the majority of my day chatting with people from all over the world who want advice. Trust me, if I could, I would absolutely spend all day chatting with people to give them support and a listening ear. But spending hours exercising my skills with no compensation is a dangerous road to start down.
Emotional labor is something we don’t always value the way we value other skills. My artist and programmer friends don’t work for free, and professionals in this space charge for their time spent doing counseling work. I’m not licensed, but as a writer and a blogger I have to make sure I value my work.
When someone sends me a letter and I answer it on this blog, we both get something - they get their question answered for free, and I get content for my column. If I answer privately, I don’t have anything to show for my time and work. I cannot honor requests for private responses or live chats. All letters sent have the potential to be published and answered anonymously but publicly, and that will remain an option for as long as this blog continues.
I understand that some situations are sensitive and people don’t want them broadcasted online, even anonymously. Or that you need someone to actually talk back and forth with. In those cases, I cannot meet that need. Please check out my page on therapy resources to find someone you can talk to privately.
Thank you so much for your readership and your understanding.