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Financial Therapy|What is finance therapy, and could you benefit?

Finance therapy is a specialization helping people to manage financial problems, stress, and anxiety. 

Financial therapy is not just for the rich nor is it just for the poor.

Money plays a significant role in our mental health. Dealing with financial problems can be very stressful to an individual’s emotional state of being- if left unchecked, this burden may spread into other aspects of life, including health and relationships. As you may already know, money struggles are one of the most common reasons couples attend therapy and one of the leading causes of divorce.

Money plays a vital role in our lives, and when it doesn’t work out well for us on some level financially, we can feel like there’s something wrong with who we are as people or how life has treated us thus far.

Sometimes called a “money therapist,” a financial therapist is someone who collaborates with the client to co-create solutions for a host of money problems or anxieties. 

Finance Therapy vs. Financial Education

Financial therapy is therapy under the umbrella of psychotherapy; as I point out later, it has been a part of psychotherapeutic training for many decades.

Psychotherapy uses psychological methods, mainly based on regular personal interaction, to help a person change behavior, increase happiness, and overcome problems.

It is implied when someone calls themselves a “therapist” that they are licensed in psychotherapy.


What exactly is a Finance Therapist vs. Other Types of Therapy?

First, to be clear, finance therapy is not a regulated term. Anyone can call themselves a financial therapist, so you must find someone qualified, experienced, and not holding a dual relationship with you.

For instance, some associations are independent organizations that have a web-based series and promote individuals. This is not new; for decades, all treatment plan books have included financial therapy and various mental health training outlets from colleges to continuing education offer finance therapy or money management for psychologists, therapists, and counselors. 

Can a traditional therapist help me with my debt, finances, or financial anxiety?

Many therapists, including most couples therapists, already include financial therapy as part of their private practice. However, they may not advertise it because it is not their specialty. Money struggles are commonplace in couples with challenging relationship problems.

You can tell the therapist’s specialty by their website if they have a niche, and if you are not sure, most therapists welcome a consultation call free of charge.

You will often find that local therapists are more apt to offer a sliding scale if need be. 

Important disclaimer about psychotherapy and finance

A therapist specializing in finance therapy or who uses finance therapy as a modality in their psychotherapy practice may not sell financial products, advise financially, one-on-one, or in a small support group to their psychotherapy clients. It does not matter how many certifications or licenses they have in other areas, including finance.

This behavior would be considered a conflict of interest, a dual relationship that is enough to get a therapist fined or even lose their license in psychotherapy.

May financial advisors provide finance therapy?

At the same time, a person who is a finance professional or a life coach, money coach, or any person who has not been licensed in psychotherapy, regardless of what certificates they hold in finance therapy, may not imply that they are providing psychotherapy.

Suggesting that they are qualified to help a client or customer work through emotional upheaval, confusion, or overwhelm, as a licensed therapist is illegal just as a psychotherapist may not imply or state that they can be a wealth manager or financial advisor. 

When they say they are a finance therapist, they often mean that they help their client make decisions regarding their emotions about the services or products that they offer.

Often, psychotherapists who specialize in finance therapy refer their clients to financial advisors or other finance specialists when they are more precise and can focus without being overwhelmed with their goals.

What organizations offer psychotherapy-based financial therapy?

Most organizations that support the vulnerable or marginalized also have finance therapy or education as a cornerstone of their support. An example is those employed by the Veterans Administration who help struggling veterans to pay their bills and manage their money, or organizations who support those with special needs to learn to budget and manage their money for necessities. There are also groups for women and girls who help advance the prospect of investing and empowerment through money-based educational programs. 

Do you need a Finance Professional?

Finance professionals who are licensed or specializing in finance management or the sale of financial products also might call themselves finance therapists, as “finance therapy” is an unregulated term. 

Even if they are certified in finance therapy, that does not qualify them actually to practice psychotherapy. 

What they mean by finance therapy, in this case, is emotional support.

What about finance coaches and educators?

Finance coaches and educators provide slightly different services, and they may overlap. A finance coach may help motivate someone to save or budget, focusing on one particular goal. They often are not licensed therapists, so they usually do not dive into anything that has to do with mental health. Finance educators teach people to manage their money and investments, but they do not ask particulars about their finances as they remain private.

 A quick disclaimer is that licensed psychotherapists might also serve as educators or coaches; these therapists work within different boundaries depending on how a client or patient has contracted with them.

Why do people seek out financial therapy?

Financial anxiety and overwhelm are common. They can wreak havoc on relationships and health and be a block to success if they feel anxious, depressed, confused, or frustrated at their financial situation. They may seek out a psychotherapist who has the skills and experience to help them through their stress.

Individuals, couples, families, and businesses may seek out a finance therapist.

Some individuals feel that they can’t get a hold of their hoarding or clutter. Some have thousands of dollars of debt. 

Others are compulsive shoppers or compulsive gamblers. 

Some have been victims of financial abuse. Sometimes a spouse or partner finds out that a trusted person is hiding money from them. Others have served time in the prison system for embezzlement. Some are workaholics. Some are unmotivated to work. Some people want to learn to invest but are confused and fearful. Others are very wealthy and worry about their relationship with money on other levels. Some are looking for a promotion or learning valuable skills to move into a different career.

Still, others simply are struggling with self-value.

Financial therapy for individuals, financial therapy for couples, financial counseling for couples, economic marriage counselors, and financial therapists for specialized demographics; an example is a finance therapist specializing in divorced women.

As you can see, there are many reasons one might seek a finance therapist.

Associations and Training

There are several associations, organizations, and training vehicles to help finance therapists network and promote themselves. Belonging to an organization for financial advisors and therapists can also provide exposure on search engines and a space to showcase their practice and office.

Most psychotherapists and financial therapists are not affiliated with organizations so in addition to using these organizations are a springboard for research, make sure you seek out your region and find a local therapist that might be able to see you face-to-face or that you can get local recommendations for.

The organizations have a lot to offer those looking to grow their business, but in transparency and fairness, as far as seeking a therapist or a financial professional, know that you can cast a wider net.

Which do you need?

A financial advisor or finance professional is best to help you move forward with the money you have to invest. A licensed therapist is best to provide you with the support to get you through the deeper problem. The financial coach can support you through measurable goals. The educator can help you develop the confidence and skills to handle your money and understand working with a financial advisor.

Many licensed psychotherapists also take on the role of coach and educator, as those roles often overlap without a dual relationship concern or bias. 

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