Let me just start with the most glaring difference in Finance Therapists.
Not all are licensed. That means some are practicing without a license. If they are practicing without a license they may be unqualified and at best, are unethical.
I thought it was important to create a short post on how to choose a finance therapist. First note, that there are “finance therapists” that are not licensed, psychotherapists. They may or may not have a certification from a nonprofit or for-profit entity, but are not traditionally licensed as a psychotherapist.
To break it down, there are two main types of finance therapists. The third is totally unqualified, they just hold a trademark certification which is meaningless to any licensing on either end of the spectrum.
The one I just spoke of, is traditionally someone in the finance world; they sell insurance or are stockbrokers or investment planners. They have an interest in money and finance, so this is natural for them to understand how you feel about money as well. These types of finance therapists, with or without certification, are not licensed in any mental health arena, thus are not held to any mental health license or board laws or guidelines. If you are interested in developing a relationship with this type of financial planner, you might be more focused on how and where to plan your budget, portfolio, or asset management under caring guidance. In their line of work, they might ask you if you are insured, if you have a money market, etc.
They can help you in many ways, in that respect.
Then, there are licensed psychotherapists, which are trained and licensed, bound by laws and policies to uphold your confidentiality, privacy, and put your best interest emotionally, mentally, and medically, as a priority. They do not sell financial services or products and, thus, will not have a bias to your solve your “money story” with a product or service that they happen to sell.
They are trained for years, in trauma recovery, anxiety, depression, stress, attachment disorder, bipolar, ADHD and so much more. They are not legally able to suggest a stock, investment, or direct your money in any way; but are able to give general support and tips on how to protect your income as a coach but will never ask you for any information about your personal economic life.
If you have internal or external relationships meaning, you are stressed regarding your own self or the relationships you have with others and, you may be struggling with money, then a licensed psychotherapist is probably the best choice. Also, you might be having financial struggles (or not, maybe you are a workaholic or feel you just have an unhealthy relationship with money in some way) but what brings you to therapy is anxiety, stress, or a troubled relationship. This is where you’d want a licensed psychotherapist, not a caring wealth manager.
Let me explain why I feel this way and note that I realize that there are many people who may not agree with me -namely those who are not licensed psychotherapists.
First, I feel it is misleading to call yourself a therapist if you are not a therapist.
For instance, I am in fact, a certified financial educator, but I am not a financial planner and I would not state that I was such, because it would imply to an unsuspecting client that I was qualified to manage and plan their portfolio.
Second, I do not feel, at this time, there is any entity who is qualified to train someone to handle the intricate details of childhood trauma, adult betrayal, anxiety and gut psychology and how all of this plays into our sense of self-value and then, net-worth.
So it really is up to you. If your goals are to have a caring economic professional who has had a training or two on understanding some motivations or blocks in personal finance, then you should go with a money-story-informed economic professional.
If your goals are to heal your stress levels, understand how to not repeat patterns of self-sabotage, understand past and present family dynamics, learn tools to excel in varied areas of life, and rewrite your money story, then, a licensed psychotherapist is the way to go.
At the same time, your therapist should not be asking personal finance questions, beyond billing, as that is a complete boundary cross.
An ethical psychotherapist will help you to find resources to find a financial planner if you so desire one, and an ethical financial planner will help you to find a licensed psychotherapist if you desire one.
In my personal opinion, the moment you start asking about personal finance you should be referred to someone in finance, and the moment you start sharing personal stories with your financial professional, you should be referred to a therapist – even if the financial professional happens to hold a Masters or Ph.D., in mental health; I think they need to choose a profession and not merge the two. Merging creates a murky line that is dangerous for the client and, the professional. The bottom line is, anyone in the financial industry who is working professionally as a financial professional, I feel, is crossing boundaries and behaving unethically, representing themselves as a therapist.