What is Financial Therapy and How Does it Help You?
Anyone who has ever had an argument of debt or expenditure will know that your emotions are absolutely linked with your financial habits. In this stage of the recession, with so many people looking for jobs or finding that the rising costs of living are becoming difficult to cope with, money has become a big issue in many households. Until the past few years though, the emotional side of the situation was more important than the numbers themselves – therapists are now looking more into all elements of the situation though, rather than just the one side. A new practice coming into play is known as financial therapy. This practice bridges the gap between traditional therapy and finance. Many financial planners are focused on money only and become uncomfortable when the subject of emotions arises. By the same token, most therapists don’t have the knowledge to navigate clients’ financial difficulties. Some education providers are even bringing this subject into the curriculum, such as the psychology of personal finance so that people are aware of what it takes to plan for their goals. This is a growing industry that more educational providers have realised.
Experts compare this gap to the notion of diet and exercise. People know that diet and physical activity is important for their health, yet the increasing obesity crisis shows that vast proportion of people don’t act on it. The emotional aspect of finance is where people get stuck – how do they stop doing something they don’t want to be doing? For example, gambling, overspending or under-spending could be some of these problems. Understanding the emotional side of finance helps to open up a dialogue about it and can strengthen couple’s bonds over money and accounts. Therapists may counsel people on the boundaries they set with their children about financial handouts or making decisions on money as a family. The way your parents acted with money may well impact how you do too, yet these decisions might not always suit the lifestyle you’re trying to lead. Financial therapy can close in on these issues and find a way out of them.
The Financial Therapy Association Network lists over three dozen members who provide services in this area. The field is still developing, and most people aren’t yet aware of the industry as a whole, but it is growing. In a time when so many people are struggling to make ends meet and trying to survive on less money, through unemployment or increased prices in the supermarkets, financial therapy could be the way forward for a lot of people. And if there isn’t a financial therapy service in your area, there is the wonder of technology – many counsellors work via Skype or the internet. Because there is no official certification for financial therapists yet, because the industry is so new, experts recommend looking to the educational background of therapists, or any licenses they may hold. Look at the average number of client meetings they hold, how they get paid and their hourly fee. Are they getting commission from referrals, and is the fee insurance based? These questions will help you to determine how valid and authentic your therapist is. It will also help you to determine if the therapist has any biases. How they approach financial therapy themselves says a lot about their practices and how they teach, which varies from person to person. What you’re looking for may not be taught by one person, but you may find that another therapist can help you.