The expansion of the practice of financial therapy in the United States captured the interest of American universities and became an object of study and teaching. Like any new discipline, however, financial therapy has experienced growing pains — that is, confusion about what it is and who can claim to be qualified to practice it.
“I see a lot of financial coaches advertising their services, particularly on social media, and they are not accredited,” said Traci Williams, a certified psychologist at the Financial Therapy Association.
“Last week I came across a person with a huge following on Instagram who offers financial therapy coaching calls. When I researched her qualifications, she only has a bachelor’s degree in IT. It makes me worried about people who need help and where they are getting information.”
Not all certified financial therapists are licensed mental health professionals. Some, including Financial Therapy Association President Preston Cherry, are certified financial planners or coaches.
“I don’t do financial therapy as a stand-alone practice. I invoke the principles of financial therapy within my financial planning,” Cherry said.
“If there’s a situation that’s beyond my scope — say, a marital issue that’s blocking financial goals or communication — I can help figure that out and refer my client to a specialist, like a couples counselor.”
As with traditional therapy and financial planning, the cost of financial therapy can vary greatly. Practitioners charge between US$100 (R$510) and US$800 (R$4,081) per session, depending on the fee structure and services.
Financial advisors who are certified in financial therapy must be clear about the limits of their mental health training, said Megan McCoy, who leads the graduate program in financial therapy at Kansas State University; the same goes for mental health professionals and their financial savvy.
“The financial therapy program trains people to recognize when a problem is out of their control and how to refer to another professional when needed,” she said.
Many financial planners deal with clients facing major life events such as marriage, divorce, career change, retirement or death in the family, and it is normal for them to refer a lawyer or an accountant. Why not a therapist?
Larger financial institutions are also approaching more sensitive angles with their customers.
“Financial planners have always known that clients have trouble implementing goals, even when they have been clearly outlined and demonstrated,” said Sonya Lutter, a founding member of the Financial Therapy Association who recently founded EnLite, a provider of research and training for planners and therapists. financial.
“The missing part is the personal, behavioral element – a computer can’t just spit it out. Many large companies today recognize this and are starting to integrate behavioral training into their work.”
Even the CFP Board, the organization that oversees the credentialing process for certified financial planners, has embraced the soft skills of money management.
In January, the board added a section to its educational program called “Psychology of Financial Planning,” which covers “counseling principles” and “clients and planners’ attitudes, values, and biases,” among other topics.
“Now anyone who wants to be a certified financial planner needs to show competence in the psychology of financial planning, which is more or less financial therapy,” Lutter said.
With Americans feeling great financial anxiety, it is perhaps inevitable that therapy and money will get mixed up. It is also a reflection of the growing challenges of our financial lives.
“Most people don’t have stable careers for 30 years and then retire,” Clayman said. “We juggle many different jobs and different sources of income. We need to manage and plan for our future. And if we have a partner we need tools to bring these two complex systems together. I would say it’s a bigger process than any spreadsheet can contain.”
Translated by Luiz Roberto M. Gonçalves