What Is Financial Therapy?

A man talking to a counselor from a couch


Talk therapy is a form of treatment that has been around since Sigmund Freud invented the practice in Vienna, Austria, in the 1890s. As the discipline has grown over the last 125 years, it has expanded into several sub-disciplines, including psychotherapy, behavioral therapy, and financial therapy.

Financial therapy is precisely what it sounds like. It provides counseling and emotional support to financially stressed people. According to the Financial Therapy Association, financial therapy is a process that helps people positively modify their behavior toward money, such that it improves their financial and psychological well-being. The current therapy process results from years of research and best practices. It helps people behave, feel and even think differently about money.

Why Do People Need Financial Therapy?

People seek financial therapy for the same reasons they seek traditional therapy—because they need help. When radical or unusual changes in people’s behavior lead to uncomfortable financial positions, people seek out financial therapy. These behaviors often involve at least one of the following:

  • Unhealthy spending habits
  • Compulsive gambling
  • Avoiding financial issues that should be confronted

On the other end of the spectrum, you have behavior involving overworking and money hoarding. Other behaviors include hiding large sums from partners and other abnormal money choices.

Generally, being in debt isn’t sufficient to warrant financial therapy. Debt is a natural part of financial life, and a person can acquire good and bad debt. However, debt from unhealthy money habits, including those described above, warrants therapy.

The Difference Between Financial Therapy and Other Forms of Therapy

During financial therapy, several professionals working together administer treatment. This usually includes a person’s financial advisor and a qualified financial therapist.

While both financial advisors and financial therapists are required for effective treatment, they must each possess skills and capabilities that the other does not have to deliver proper care to the individual.

Can Talking About Your Emotions Around Money Help?

The first thing to understand is that this therapy brand isn’t just about discussing your emotions around money, even though it’s a major part of it.

We discussed earlier how both a financial therapist and a financial advisor help make treatment successful. During therapy, individuals are encouraged to address their fiscal challenges and face the patterns that keep them inhibited.

That said, the therapy process requires that the individual address many emotional, psychological, and behavioral issues. Talking can often help address these issues. Many times, money isn’t just about money. Other emotions are involved, and talking can draw those emotions out and help the individual deal with them.

So, to answer the question in a nutshell, Yes. Talking about the emotions around money can help a lot.

If you’re having financial troubles and believe you might need some financial therapy, Psychology Today can help you find a therapist you can afford. It can lead you to qualified financial therapists who use proven interventions to help people through their financial troubles.

Psychology Today and the financial therapy association (linked above) also contain several articles that can get you on your way to emotional and financial healing even before your first appointment.

Don’t wait to get out of debt! Read this: A Complete, Step-By-Step Guide to Get Out of Debt.