Sign-up for our newsletter and join us on our mission to save as much money as possible!

Why You Might Need To See A Financial Therapist

Melanie Lockert
June 6, 2019

If you have a broken arm, you go see a doctor. If you’re not feeling like yourself and dealing with depression and anxiety, you can go see a therapist or a psychiatrist. But what if money is the root of your problem? You can see a Certified Financial Professional to help get your numbers in order, but sometimes it’s more than just the numbers, it’s our mindset and thoughts around money that need some changing first. In that case, seeing a financial therapist could be a good idea.

What is a financial therapist?

Yes, there’s such a thing as a financial therapist. According to the Financial Therapy Association, “Financial therapy is a process informed by both therapeutic and financial competencies that helps people think, feel, and behave differently with money to improve overall well-being through evidence-based practices and interventions.”

So essentially, financial therapy works at the intersection of wellness and money. The way we see money and spend money can be influenced by our upbringing and our lens on life.

When should you see a financial therapist?

I spoke with financial therapist Amanda Clayman on some of the nitty-gritty details about financial therapy.

Clayman is an expert on financial behavior, including things like money mindsets and what the negative emotions around money are trying to teach us. 

These are areas we don’t talk about very often. Yet, these are areas a lot of us could probably benefit from. 

If you’re dealing with financial issues that seem to go beyond the numbers, when should you take the plunge and see a financial therapist?

A person might consider working with a financial therapist when they are experiencing disproportionate anxiety or distress around money, when money is a significant ongoing issue in their relationships, or when they notice themselves repeating destructive patterns in their financial behavior.

Per Clayman: “A person might consider working with a financial therapist when they are experiencing disproportionate anxiety or distress around money, when money is a significant ongoing issue in their relationships, or when they notice themselves repeating destructive patterns in their financial behavior. While we all feel stress, experience conflict, and make less-than-optimal choices when it comes to money, the difference here is that a person feels unable to make progress in correcting the issue on their own.”

In other words, if you feel like you’re stuck in analysis paralysis or that your emotions are ruling or affecting your financial life, it might be time to see a financial therapist.

Where our issues with money come from 

If you feel like you’re “bad with money” or that you’ll always be in debt, don’t beat yourself up too much. It’s not all your fault and you’re not a financial disaster.

A lot of the ways we see money, spend money, and save money are all affected by the lens we view life with. Our upbringing, culture, and family all have an impact on our money mindset.

Our family money story is comprised of what financial circumstances and events we experienced growing up, the messages we received about them, and the emotional climate around money.

“Our family money story is comprised of what financial circumstances and events we experienced growing up, the messages we received about them, and the emotional climate around money even when nothing was explicitly said,” Clayman explains. “This family money story is our ‘original programming’ if you will.”  

We take this family money story and it affects how we view life and spend our money. Maybe your parents taught you the value of a dollar and how to work hard and save. You take that with you and you’re “good with money.” But if you grow up in a family where there’s always a lack of money, you could grow up and have a scarcity mindset.

If you have a scarcity mindset, you might be so frugal, terrified to part with any of your money. On the other hand, you could overcompensate if you come into money and spend with reckless abandon.

It’s important to recognize your “money story” and how your family and upbringing contributed to unhealthy patterns and beliefs about money.

The road to recovery

To change your money story, start by writing down your current money story. What are your beliefs, and what are the corresponding behaviors? Then write down a new money story. What actions occur with your new money story?

Being able to recognize patterns and re-write your money story can help you tackle some of the deeper issues you might have with money.

Being able to recognize patterns and re-write your money story can help you tackle some of the deeper issues you might have with money.

If you need additional help, financial therapy can help. “A financial therapist can help to recognize thoughts, beliefs, and patterns of behavior with money that are negatively impacting a person’s life,” Clayman shared. “They can provide a safe and structured environment to explore those issues and work toward a life of financial alignment and well-being.”

You don’t have to go it alone. You can find more information on the Financial Therapy Association website and resources from Amanda Clayman.

Melanie Lockert is a personal finance expert, the blogger behind DearDebt.com and author of the book “Dear Debt: A story about breaking up with debt.” Melanie paid off $81,000 of debt and is now on a mission to help others do the same.

Feature Image: Twenty20

Hold on!

We aren’t done helping you make and save money! Swipe for lot’s of ways to connect with us so you never miss a single one of our money tips or tricks. Your wallet will thank you.

In need of some daily motivation to get your finances on track (who isn’t)?

Follow us on Instagram.

Follow on Instagram

Join our community “Let’s Talk About Debt” for support and expert help around all things debt.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel for money saving app reviews brought to you by our editors.