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financial therapy

Dealing with your finances can be very stressful. Financial therapists work to lessen that stress, or at least help their clients develop a more sustainable and healthy relationship to money.

Financial therapy is a brand new field, but more people are turning to financial therapists to get help – not only to straighten out their savings and finances, but also to develop a more sophisticated awareness of how money impacts their mental state of being.

What Is Financial Therapy?

Financial therapy is a growing field that seeks to combine aspects of traditional financial planning with aspects of therapy. Financial issues can be one of the biggest stressors that exacerbate mental health issues such as anxiety or depression. Consequently, financial therapists work to address both the financial issues themselves and the impact they have on your mental health.

Financial therapists use a combination of therapeutic and financial expertise to help their clients think, feel, and behave differently with money. The goal is to improve the overall well-being of clients while using evidence-based practices.

The thing about financial roadblocks is that the obstacles aren’t often exclusively financial. A lot of the time, psychological, relational and behavioral issues are also at play. Financial therapy seeks to provide holistic assistance. That way, you can tackle every facet of these issues and get to a healthier place.

Should You Work With a Financial Therapist?

If you’re considering whether a financial therapist could help you, think about your general relationship to money. Do you think you have anxiety about money, or unhealthy behaviors and feelings when it comes to spending, budgeting, saving or investing? If so, you might benefit from exploring financial therapy. That might be true even if, by traditional metrics, you’re on pace for hitting your financial goals. It’s possible to have an unhealthy relationship with money even if your finances are good on paper.

Of course, if you have chronic financial issues – like racking up debt, going over budget and failing to save for retirement – then that’s a further indicator that your relationship with money might be out of wack.

At the end of the day, the question of whether to work with a financial therapist will depend on a number of factors that are very specific to you. Namely, your relationship with money, your relationship with your own mental health, your ability to afford financial therapy in the first place and your opinions regarding therapy in general.

How to Become a Financial Therapist

financial therapy

Because the world of financial therapy is very new, there are no official certifications for financial therapy available at this time. The Financial Therapy Association (FTA) is working to create the Certified Financial Therapist (CFT) designation to be available to applicants some time in 2019.

Applicants for the CFT designation will need to have a bachelor’s degree. It should be in either a financial field (finance, economics, etc.) or a mental health field (psychology, social work, etc.). However, if the applicant already has a certified financial planner (CFP) or accredited financial counselor (AFC) certification, then the bachelor’s degree can be in any field.

Additionally, applicants must  complete a series of educational training videos provided by the FTA. Candidates must also demonstrate that they’ve completed 500 hours of necessary experience. Half of these hours must be direct client service. The other half can be a combination of more direct client service, teaching, writing financial plans, giving professional presentations or conducting peer-reviewed research.

Finally, candidates must pass a comprehensive exam to officially become a certified financial therapist. Continuing education requirements will go into place after one earns the certification.

Bottom Line

financial therapy

Achieving a healthy financial life is no easy task, and it can often come with some sacrifice and plenty of delayed gratification. If you feel like you need a little help to make it all work, you’re in good company. A financial therapist can help you not only get the numbers in order, but also help you improve how money influences your outlook and your mental health.

Tips for Managing Your Finances

  • Having an emergency fund in place can make a big difference when it comes to nipping financial stress in the bud. Do your best to stash away three or more months of expenses in a high-yield savings account. Then, don’t touch it unless there’s an emergency.
  • If you’ve had issues managing your finances, consider working with a financial advisor. Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/asiseeit, ©iStock.com/asiseeit, ©iStock.com/AntonioGuillem

Hunter Kuffel, CEPF® Hunter Kuffel is a personal finance writer with expertise in savings, retirement and investing. Hunter is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance® (CEPF®) and a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame and currently lives in New York City.
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