More money, more problems. Or less money, more problems.
It’s a fact: Money can cause people to act irrationally and illogically. Our finances can even affect or further complicate psychological issues we may be experiencing.
Financial psychology is a budding new profession that’s helping bridge the gap between a financial advisor and psychologist. Dr. Brad Klontz—a financial planner and financial psychologist, and co-founder of Your Mental Wealth—talked to Stash about what financial psychology is and how it aims to help people in money distress.
What does a financial therapist do?
In a nutshell, a financial therapist or psychologist looks at the way certain psychological factors influence our behavior with money. Dr. Klontz says they play a dual role: They’re part financial planners or advisors, and part psychologists.
Which role takes the forefront, however, depends on the individual client. Some people need to address underlying psychological issues to see results, while others need to adjust their relationship with money which can be having adverse effects on their mental health.
Because there are certain rules and stipulations regarding what kind of relationships with clients psychologists can have with their clients (like financial planning), Klontz and other therapists walk the line to determine which way they can best offer assistance.
Why people go to financial therapists
Money is a huge source of frustration and stress for many people. That frustration and stress can breed others issues and can lead to life-altering events.
Money, for example, is the top reason that people get divorced during the early years of their marriage. And three out of four Americans say it’s the number one source of stress in their lives. It distorts our beliefs, and creates destructive behavior patterns, Dr. Klontz says, that negatively impact our lives.
Some examples of behaviors that financial therapists can help patients sort out:
- Compulsive buying
- Excessive risk aversion (refusing to spend money, even on necessities, for example)
- Hoarding (spending on things you don’t need, mostly)
Do you need financial therapy?
One of the best ways to determine if you need actual psychological help is to take stock of your behavior. If you’re actively creating financial havoc, for example, or have some sort of uncontrollable compulsion around money, you may be a candidate.
Likewise, if you’re experiencing debilitating levels of stress or preoccupation with your finances, it may be a good idea to reach out to a therapist.
But simply not understanding how to handle your money or budget probably isn’t a good reason—that can likely be chalked up to your level of financial literacy.
Remember, too, that a therapist isn’t free. If you’re already struggling, you might need to take the extra expense into account. You can also look at the Financial Therapy Association’s network to see if there’s a therapist nearby.
If you have a problem with overspending, you can also consider Debtors Anonymous. DA offers tools and meetings around the country to help people who need support for their financial issues.
Get smarter with your money
You don’t need a therapist to learn the basics of how to handle your money.
Therapy’s one thing, but another way you can work to get back on the right track—financially speaking? Start investing with Stash.