Financial therapy can help clients increase saving or income, reduce spending, and significantly reduce anxiety. The problem is that achieving such results takes time and money.
How much time and money? That is impossible to predict. I know of one person who resolved his chronic money anxiety in five financial therapy sessions. I also know of a couple that have been working with a financial therapist for over ten years. While they have made progress, they are still overspending.
The problem with getting financially well when it comes to overspending or under earning is that the longer it takes to heal, the deeper the financial hole. And of course, the longer financial therapy takes, the higher the cost of the financial therapy.
The issues that cause financial disorders are often born out of some type of childhood wounding, which therapists call trauma. If a person can’t cognitively change their behaviors simply with new information, there is probably a deeper wounding that will need focused emotional work to resolve. In my experience, most chronic harmful financial behaviors need the deeper emotional work to resolve. Such work can be time-consuming and costly.
I have often thought that it would be life-changing if we came up with a mode of therapy that could significantly speed up the healing process.
In the mental health profession, there are modalities with the potential—supported by research—to do just that. I was part of some 2008 research, The Treatment of Disordered Money Behaviors: Results of an Open Clinical Trial, that found experiential group therapy around money issues did advance permanent behavior change.
There are other science-based modalities used by some therapists that can speed up and heal deeper traumas. These are Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), various types of Neurofeedback, Holotropic Breathwork, and MDMA Assisted Psychotherapy.
While the first three modalities have been around for decades, what caught my attention last year was the research being done on MDMA Assisted Therapy. A psychedelic drug which is a component of illegal street drugs like Ecstasy, MDMA is currently in clinical trials for FDA approval as a prescription medication for treatment of PTSD and other disorders.
What I’ve come to discover is when used in a clinical setting under the supervision of a therapist, MDMA can produce unparalleled healing from trauma. According to Dr. Ben Sessa, MD, MRCPhych, a psychiatrist and researcher, “MDMA completely cures 74 percent of people after two sessions and talk therapy cures 20 percent. And we are talking a cure, not a reduction of symptoms.” (Note: “talk therapy” is the traditional cognitive/behavioral mode of therapy and is distinct from EMDR, Neurofeedback, or Holotropic Breathwork.)
Currently, MDMA therapy is in the final stages of being approved in the US. Those closest to the testing expect it will gain FDA approval sometime in 2021, and Dr. Sessa anticipates a huge demand. The organization spearheading the clinical trials has started to train therapists in MDMA therapy.
Since trauma affects all aspects of someone’s life, including financial, it would have been interesting to follow the financial state of those in the clinical trials. How many had financial issues prior to the treatment? Was there any improvement in financial condition after the treatment? What would MDMA Assisted Financial Therapy produce? Would the results significantly match the clinical trials and speed up the time to change financial behavior?
It will take years to have the answers to these questions. Yet consulting a financial therapist trained in MDMA therapy may not be that far off. These two innovations in psychotherapy may well collaborate to help clients make faster progress toward financial and emotional health.