When we consider getting our money in order, our first thought might be to see a financial planner. Yet, sometimes creating a financial plan is a lot easier said than done.

There are other factors, like our personal relationship and subconscious beliefs about money, that play a bigger role in our finances than many of us may realize or like to admit. But this disconnect may be doing more harm than good: Money is a part of our everyday lives and the lack of conversation may add more stress.

That’s where financial therapy comes into play. This relatively new practice focuses on the emotional ties we have with money and how it influences our financial success. To observe World Mental Health Awareness Day, Bankrate is taking a deeper look into what financial therapy is and when it may be useful to see a financial therapist.

What is financial therapy?

Financial therapy mixes financial planning services with mental health treatment to assist those who struggle with putting their financial plans into action.

“Financial therapists can help with behavior and mindset changes,” says Derek Hagen, founder of Money Health Solutions and a Certified Financial Therapist based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. “[We] can address financial trauma, help clients find meaning and the purpose of their money, and identify their subconscious beliefs about money that may be holding them back.”

Financial therapists, also known as CFT-I’s, are certified by the Financial Therapy Association. While the financial therapy practice has been around for more than a decade, it wasn’t until 2019 that financial therapists could earn the professional designation.

When should you consider a financial therapist?

As we mentioned, financial therapists can help clients overcome their financial biases. Unfortunately, this can be a hard thing to recognize as it’s usually subconscious.

A telltale sign, however, is knowing what you need to do in order to succeed financially, but that information isn’t enough to convince you to do it, Hagen says. For some people, this could mean you’ve seen a financial planner, you have your next steps ready, but no matter what — you just can’t convince yourself to do it.

Or maybe you know you have a problem with overspending, but that’s not enough to get you to cutback.

Other signs you should see a financial therapist include:

  • Feeling depressed or anxious about your finances
  • Consistent overspending and no saving
  • Acknowledging bad money behaviors, but struggling to change them

Whatever it may be, the first step to solving the problem is by recognizing it. And if you know that you are struggling to work through it, then you may want to consider a financial therapist.

How to find a financial therapist

With financial therapy only becoming a certifiable profession just recently, there’s not a huge network of therapists yet. In fact, there are only 42 certified financial therapists in 20 of the 50 U.S. States, according to the Financial Therapy Network CFT-I finder.

If you are seeking a financial therapist, the best resource for finding a certified professional is through the FTA’s CFT-I finder.

Many financial therapists offer free consultations. As Hagen sees it, the free consultation is a great opportunity to see if it seems like a good fit, get all your questions answered about the process, the cost, and understand what benefits you can expect from the therapy sessions.

Bottom line

Money is a stressful topic, but there are ways you can work to relieve some of that stress.

Financial therapy is one method that could help you better understand your personal relationship with money, which will hopefully lead you to building stronger and healthier habits in the long run.

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