What You Should Know About Financial Therapy

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The way you approach personal money management can either improve or disrupt your life. Each financial decision will in some way impact your overall well-being. Significant problems can arise when the way you handle money is negatively impacting your life over an extended period of time, causing significant stress, depression, or anxiety. If you’ve found yourself in a place where your relationship with money is having a long-term negative impact, financial therapy may be an option.

Financial Therapist Amanda Clayman chatted with The Cheat Sheet and explained what financial therapy is, how to get started, and what you can expect if you choose to seek help from a financial therapist.


The Cheat Sheet: What is a financial therapist?

Amanda Clayman: I will start with the definition from the Financial Therapy Association, of which I’m a member: a financial therapist is focused on enhancing financial well-being through the study of the emotional, behavioral, cognitive, relational, economic, and integrative aspects of financial health. The work brings together financial counseling and planning with personal counseling, marriage and family therapy, sociology, social work, and psychology.


CS: What is a sign of good financial therapy?

AC: Good financial therapy often happens in a collaborative network of professionals. For example, when clients need more intensive psychotherapy I will refer to another mental health professional who does that type of ongoing work, and when a tax, investment, or financial planning need presents itself, I will refer or confer with an appropriate professional in those fields. We must all be very mindful to work within our individual professional training and scope of practice.


CS: How can someone find a financial therapist?

AC: A good place to start is the Financial Therapy Association directory, but the directory is fairly small and limited to members who pay to be a part of it. A simple Google search will also turn up a lot of people who practice under that designation. One caution, though, is that the term “Financial Therapist” is an unregulated title, meaning that anyone with (or without) any credential can call him or herself a financial therapist. Since this area of practice is really the intersection of two different fields, most financial therapists have a “native” area of training and licensure, and then will add an additional credential that incorporates the other area of study. For example, I am a licensed social worker, and have an additional certification in financial social work. Some people do have dual degrees/professional accreditations, such as completing both CFP and clinical counseling programs. I think it helps to do your homework, make contact with the practitioner, explain what you’re looking for, and assess for a good fit.