What Is Financial Therapy?

Financial therapy merges finance with emotional support to help people cope with financial stress. Financial advisors must often provide therapy to clients in order to help them make logical monetary decisions and deal with any financial issues they might be facing.

Breaking Down Financial Therapy

Money plays a large role in a person's overall well-being, and the stresses of managing money and dealing with financial pitfalls can take a huge toll on one's emotional health. If left uncontrolled, this emotional burden can spread into other areas of a person's life. Just as with any other form of therapy that addresses other aspects of a person's life, financial therapy provides support and advice geared specifically toward the financial realm and the stresses that go along with it. The end goal is to get a person's finances in order and provide the necessary advice to keep them in order.

The Financial Therapy Association defines financial therapy as "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."

Financial Therapy Reasoning

There are a range of reasons why a person would seek out or need financial therapy. In many cases, behavioral issues cause a person to adapt unhealthy financial routines, including unhealthy spending habits (such as gambling or compulsive shopping), overworking oneself to hoard money, completely avoiding financial issues that must be dealt with, or hiding finances from a partner. Often, bad saving, spending, or working habits are a symptom of other bad habits related to mental or physical health. 

Financial Therapy vs. Other Types of Therapy

The most effective forms of financial therapy involve a collaboration between a person's financial advisor and a licensed therapist or specialist. Both the financial advisor and the therapist have unique qualifications that the other does not possess. Because of this, it's hard for one to provide complete financial therapy support, and trying to do so could potentially steer a person in the wrong direction and violate ethical codes. However, financial advisors often find themselves providing informal therapy to clients, and therapists often deal with emotional issues related to financial stress.

Financial advisors are well-versed on their clients' specific situations and are able to advise on the best courses of action. They're able to share their expertise in the hopes of alleviating the financial burdens their clients face. However, therapy is not a financial advisor's area of expertise, and if a person requires real emotional support or needs help breaking bad habits, a licensed professional should be involved. The financial advisor tends to be more adept at providing advice on how best to move forward with financial issues, while the licensed professional can provide support that gets to the root of a deeper problem.