Real Therapy for Your Financial Health
I learned today that a psychologist in our community has acquired somewhat of a reputation as a pioneer in the field of “financial therapy.” In addition to providing therapy to adults with bad money behaviors, he’s written some books, appeared on television, and trained other therapists in this area. Although I am not surprised to know that there are thousands or maybe millions of Americans who need real financial therapy, I wasn’t aware that this is an emerging specialty in the mental health counseling profession.
I’m guessing that most credit card addicts would benefit from financial therapy but I will let the experts make that determination. Apparently, there are issues of depression, low self-esteem, and/or childhood fears and taboos tied into a lot of adult money problems. Financial therapy seeks to identify those problems and help those being counseled understand why out of control spending or ignoring one’s financial future is not the solution.
Assessing Your Financial Health
According to Dr. Ted Klontz – the pioneering financial therapist I read about today – financial health is defined as
a state of being where one’s values and aspirations are in line with one’s financial behaviors. Research has shown that an unhealthy financial life is associated with lower vitality and self-actualization, unhappiness, increased anxiety, health problems, depression, loss of feelings of personal control and relationship dissatisfaction.
Dr. Klontz has teamed up with some other professionals in the financial therapy field to offer an online assessment of your financial health on the “Klontz Kahler Financial Health Scale.” I scored a 92 so I suppose I can skip the financial therapy. (Mrs. ToughMoneyLove might have a different opinion along with naming a few other issues I need help with!) I challenge you to take the assessment (no cheating!) and leaving a comment reporting how you scored.
Debtors Anonymous also has a short quiz you can take to determine if you are a compulsive debtor. I learned that I am not a compulsive debtor. No surprise there. If anything, I have an irrational fear of debt, at least the unsecured kind.
Finding Financial Therapy
So where does one obtain financial therapy? So far, the availability of counseling services in this unique area seems to be hit or miss. In our community, a local non-profit offers free “My Money Plan” counseling. Kansas State University is starting a financial therapy clinic at the end of this month. I suspect that other specialty financial therapy counselors and clinics will appear as our economic woes continue.
Debtors Anonymous has been around a while and offers free help and support for those who are involved in what it calls “compulsive debting.” This support includes online and telephone meetings. I suspect that for people with serious financial health problems, Debtors Anonymous would be effective as an adjunct to actual counseling with a therapist.
Final Thoughts on Financial Therapy
If a person engages in a continuing pattern of bad financial behavior, sending that person to a financial adviser may be a waste of time and money if the underlying problem is not identified and resolved. That is where financial therapy comes in. Mental health counseling comes in many shapes and forms and millions of Americans have been helped by it. I see no reason why a skilled financial therapist could not help someone. It certainly couldn’t hurt.
So if you know someone with poor financial mental health, perhaps you could gently clue that person into the financial therapy concept. Send them a link to the Klontz “financial health” assessment as a starting point. You could be doing them a big favor. It beats sending them to bankruptcy court.
Does anyone know a person who has received mental health counseling for severe money problems?
Image credit: Kriss Szkurlatowski