Finances play a large role in a person’s overall well-being. From the strain of being able to afford day-to-day living to feelings of income inadequacy to planning for future financial goals. Money can control our every thought if we don’t take the reins and learn healthy financial habits.
The stresses of managing money can take an emotional toll on your mental health and spread into other areas of your life.
It makes sense that money and emotions go hand-in-hand. After all, money influences our own identity, personal relationships and basic sense of survival. Yet, there has been a disconnect in available services that merge the two issues.
The growing field of financial therapy seeks to bridge this gap by helping people understand their relationship with money.
What is Financial Therapy?
The Financial Therapy Association defines financial therapy as a “process informed by both therapeutic and financial competencies that help people think, feel, and behave differently with money to improve overall well-being through evidence-based practices and interventions.”
Financial therapy uses psychology and other therapeutic techniques to get to the bottom of your “why” when it comes to your financial behaviors and decision-making process. And then uses that foundational understanding to help you reach your financial goals.
How a Financial Therapist Can Help You Move Forward
Your relationship with money can significantly impact your overall financial health. Poor behavioral habits — like compulsive shopping or working endless hours out of fear of not having enough money — can be addressed with the help of a financial therapist.
Here are some scenarios that may indicate that you could benefit from seeking help from a financial therapist:
- Just thinking about your finances causes feelings of depression or anxiety.
- You’ve tried to make changes to your spending habits or savings routine but can’t seem to follow through.
- Your marriage or relationship seems to be suffering because of your financial situation.
- You spend more than you make or have issues with saving money.
A financial therapist can help you figure out the root of the problem and give you the tools to make better decisions. And, ultimately, help prevent you from falling back into old habits.
What to Expect from a Financial Therapist
Like other forms of therapy, the goal is to help get you to a place where you can help yourself. The financial therapist will ask tailored questions meant to get you thinking about the situation from a different angle.
For example, you might be asked how your parents managed money while you were growing up. Or give you a word association exercise that focuses on different aspects of finances.
Other open-ended questions may include:
- What are your hopes and dreams for your future?
- How would you recognize if these hopes became a reality?
- What are your earliest memories about money?
- What are your overall money goals?
- When have you struggled or failed to meet your financial obligations?
By exploring these areas, you and the financial therapist can identify negative roles or past experiences that have framed your relationship with money. And then tackle them head-on.
Get the Tools You Need to Make Smart Decisions
Financial therapy fuses psychological techniques and practical steps to resolve bad habits and change your overall mindset when it comes to finances.
If you’re struggling to pay off debt, stick to a budget or save money for your family’s future, a financial therapist can work with you to learn new ways of approaching financial decisions and everyday behaviors.
For example, a financial therapist might help you narrow down a motivation to save money that truly resonates with you. It could be something like focusing on the feeling you get when you achieve a goal or creating a vision board that allows you to see your tangible goals right in front of you.
The goal is to provide you with tools that create lasting behavioral changes —which can translate to long-term financial success.
Finding a Financial Therapist
If you feel like you’re your own worst enemy when it comes to your finances, it may be time to seek professional help.
Because financial therapy is still a relatively new field, it can be challenging to find the right match. While some university programs are beginning to offer formal training, many of today’s practitioners are self-identified as financial therapists. They often have a mental health background and some form of financial training.
As a starting point, you can use the Financial Therapy Association’s member directory or search online for financial therapists near you. Look for someone that has both a certified financial planner designation and a licensed background in mental health or counseling.
Money can be a hard subject to talk about, so seeking help outside of your network can often be a freeing experience. The sooner you can address your “why”, the sooner you can start building wealth and living a life that isn’t centered around financial anxiety.