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Where Money Meets Feelings: Financial Therapy Finds Its Footing


“The financial therapy program trains people to acknowledge when a difficulty is outside of their expertise, and find out how to make a referral to another person when mandatory,” she said. Many financial planners take care of clients after they are facing major life events, comparable to marriage, divorce, profession changes, retirement or a death within the family, and it’s normal for them to suggest a lawyer or an accountant. Why not a therapist?

Larger financial institutions are adopting more touchy-feely angles with their clients, too.

“Financial planners have at all times known that clients have trouble implementing goals even after they have been clearly outlined and demonstrated,” said Sonya Lutter, a founding member of the Financial Therapy Association who recently founded EnLite, a research and training provider for financial planners and therapists. “The part that’s been missing is the non-public, behavioral element — a pc can’t just spit that out. Plenty of big firms now recognize this, and are beginning to integrate behavioral training into their work.”

Even the CFP Board, a corporation that oversees the accreditation process for certified financial planners, has embraced the “soft skills” of cash management. In January, the board added a bit to its education program called “The Psychology of Financial Planning,” which covers “principles of counseling” and “client and planner attitudes, values and biases,” amongst other topics.

“Now anybody who desires to be a licensed financial planner has to indicate competency within the psychology of monetary planning, which is roughly financial therapy,” Dr. Lutter said.

With Americans feeling high financial anxiety, perhaps it’s inevitable that therapy and money should mix. It’s also a mirrored image of the growing challenges of our financial lives.

“Most of us now not have stable careers for 30 years after which retire,” Ms. Clayman said. “We juggle multiple different jobs and income sources. We’d like to administer and plan for our future. And if we now have a partner, we’d like tools for merging those two complex systems together. I’d argue that’s a process that’s larger than any spreadsheet can contain.”

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