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Financial Therapy... What is it?

Financial Therapy… What does that mean?


In the field of Marriage and Family Therapy, many people are impacted by stress related to finances. The ironic thing is that good therapy is not inexpensive. When counting dollars, trying to improve our lives financially and manage our emotions, it is important to know that our investments are worthwhile. This includes therapeutic investments, in our time and our money. Investing in the growth and stability of our emotions is often times a necessity.

Many people come to therapy in crisis because they can no longer manage what they are experiencing in their lives on their own. In regard to Financial Therapy, this model of growth should also be applicable to the emotional strain debt and financial concerns create. Managing our emotions in therapy is typical in the traditional model of what a therapist offers a client. In Financial Therapy, the emotional impact of stress related issues in regard to finances should be managed, and a plan should be implemented to work toward resolving the crisis. Now you ask, what does this truly mean and how do I find such a therapist?

A therapist that deals with financial issues will advertise their qualifications so you can find them. To legally administer therapy, they should be a Registered Intern (MFTI) or Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and it may be helpful if they administer therapy through the lens of a Solution Focused Clinician. As mentioned, managing emotions associated with debt or financial crisis is most likely in the scope of traditional Marriage and Family Therapists. In Financial Therapy, managing debt and your emotions is the focus. Currently there is no certification required of administer Financial Therapy, so it is very important to ask questions about the qualifications of the therapist you are interviewing as they pertain to finances.

Helping to resolve the issue of your financial concerns may involve a therapist, and some may consider the assistance of a financial planner. A financial planner may be sound at offering products to clients as a solution to potentially earn an income, or to supplement an income, but products involve risk and that is not what Financial Therapy is about. It is about gaining control over your finances by addressing the emotional impact they are having on you, your career and your family, while evaluating your finances to see where change may be made, in addition to learning what changes need to take place to regain control over your finances. Additionally, a financial planner is not clinically trained to offer emotional support in the same way that a therapist can. It is important to make sure that the sale of a product is not the goal of the financial planner.

In Financial Therapy, there should be no agenda other than helping you manage your emotions pertaining income, spending and finances, while providing a solid plan that allows you to set and reach attainable goals to get your finances on track. For example: where do your financial fears manifest from; how to deal with emotional spending, stress related to providing for a family, stress related to being away from your family, financial family planning, preparing for college, retirement, dealing with divorce, the loss of a provider or spouse, midlife and career choices, establishing a new career, or facing the lack of career etc. These are a few emotional issues that Financial Therapy may address. A Financial Therapist will not tell you how to invest, but how to help you in your current situation emotionally, and then a plan will be devised to address your spending, lifestyle, income and general finances. By having the experience in business and finance to establish a plan and identify spending patterns, etc., your therapist will help you identify what needs to change, and offer you the support needed to reach your financial goals for the future.

If you are in need of Financial Therapy, ask your therapist if he or she is qualified to assist you with your emotional needs pertaining to your financial concerns, and if they are able to devise a financial plan to overcome issues related to spending, budgeting and what is working and not working for your business, self and family. Most importantly, ask if they have experience in investments, finance, marketing and business. Please make sure that your therapist is qualified to offer you Financial Therapy.

Setting attainable goals helps you to be in control of your finances, and having a source of support to keep you on track is a good start toward alleviating concerns you have about finances. What a great way to begin the New Year!

Kristy Cepielik is a registered Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice at Edyn Family Therapy, - Intern #83917, supervised by Terese Forster, LMFT, in Pasadena, California. Cepielik is also a property manager and investor, a writer, published musician and mother of three amazing children. Her undergraduate degree is in Public Relations, Communications and she and her family are avid travelers.


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