How to Find a Qualified Financial Therapist

by | Dec 11, 2023 | *Financial Awakenings, Financial Therapy, Healthy Money Relationships, Money Psychology, Weekly Column

If last week’s column helped you determine that you would benefit from consulting a financial therapist, how do you find one?

Rule number one: don’t automatically assume that someone who advertises they are a financial therapist is qualified. Anyone can call themselves a “financial therapist,” because the term is not regulated. The Financial Therapy Association (FTA) is a good place to begin your search for qualified professionals.

Here is what you want to look for:

Credentials. The gold standard for a financial therapist is one who holds a license in mental health counseling and also has formal training in financial planning, preferably holding the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation. Because the field of financial therapy is new, there are still only a few practitioners with that double certification. Alternatively, look for a financial therapist holding a certification from a reputable organization, such as the Certified Financial Therapist-I (CFT-I) designation issued by the FTA. This shows that they have met certain education and training requirements.

Experience. Even if the financial therapist holds a CFP designation and is licensed in mental health, which indicates a level of experience in both, find one who has actual experience in working with people as a financial therapist. You can also ask about any specialty they may have in either finance or therapy. For example, if you are struggling with debt, you may want to find a financial therapist who specializes in debt counseling. If you suspect trauma in your history, it may be best to work with someone who has been trained and specializes in trauma.

Methodology. Ask the therapist about their approach to financial therapy. Some mainly focus on helping clients develop financial skills and knowledge, while others focus more on exploring the emotional and psychological aspects of money. Some will do both equally well. Almost every financial therapist will have a specific therapeutic modality that they feel most comfortable with.

Some modalities include:

  • Cognitive Behavior: (CBT, REBT, DBT, ACT)
  • Family Systems: (IFS, Narrative)
  • Humanistic: (Gestalt, Existential, Person-centered)
  • Psychodynamic: (Object relations, Adlerian, Jungian, Psychoanalytic)

You can find general information about these methodologies online. In addition, don’t hesitate to ask  a lot of questions around the methodology to help you choose a therapist whose approach feels right for you.

Comfort Level. The process of therapy often involves the discomfort of sharing deeply personal information and exploring difficult truths. This makes it crucial to find a financial therapist you trust and feel safe and comfortable working with.

In addition to these key factors for finding a financial therapist, you may also want to consider the following:

Cost. Financial therapy can vary in price, so it is important to ask about fees upfront. It’s also important to discuss the average frequency of sessions (I recommend at least one every two weeks) and any discounts they may offer for a package of sessions.

Location. Decide whether you prefer to meet with a therapist in person or online. Many therapists offer both options.

Availability. Make sure the therapist’s availability works with your schedule. It often takes a few months to work into a routine.

Before selecting a financial therapist, it’s a good idea to read reviews on websites like Google, Yelp, and Psychology Today.

Once you have found a few potential financial therapists, schedule a consultation with each one. This is your opportunity to ask questions, learn more about their approach, and see if you feel comfortable with them. Also ask whether they have done their own therapy around their relationship with money. This is both appropriate and important. Someone guiding you on a path toward financial wellness needs to have made that journey themselves.

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