Guide to Financial Therapy

By Janet Siroto · August 15, 2023 · 8 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. Read more We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right. Read less

Guide to Financial Therapy

Money and your psyche can be deeply intertwined, and that’s where financial therapy can play a role. Financial therapy merges the emotional support of a psychotherapist with the money insights of a financial planner.

Working with a financial therapist can help clients begin to process their underlying feelings about money while optimizing behaviors related to their cash. This can minimize stress and anxiety, while honing plans for earning, spending, and saving more effectively.

Financial therapists can also assist couples in overcoming differences in their money habits and their approaches to cash management. The result? Possibly resolving and lessening money fights while building teamwork.

Read on to learn if this kind of professional counseling could help you, and, if that’s the case, what to expect from financial therapy and where to find a qualified professional.

What Is Financial Therapy?

A basic financial therapy definition is that it’s a practice that combines behavioral therapy with financial coaching. The goal is to help improve an individual’s feelings and behavior around money.

A certified financial therapist (or financial psychologist) can assist with issues such as money stress, overspending, or concerns about debt. But this differs from, say, a financial advisor who is helping you maximize your gain on investments or plan for your child’s future college expenses.

It also differs from financial coaching, which helps establish good money habits. Financial therapy can go deeper psychologically speaking. It can help a person work through childhood trauma related to money as well as money-related disorders.

💡 Quick Tip: Tired of paying pointless bank fees? When you open a bank account online you often avoid excess charges.

How Financial Therapy Works

According to the Financial Therapy Association (FTA) , financial therapy is a process informed by both therapeutic and financial expertise that helps people think, feel, and behave differently with money to improve overall well-being.

The profession sprang out of increasing evidence that money can be intrinsically tied to our hopes, frustrations, and fears, and also have a significant impact on our mental health.

What’s more, money can also have a major impact on our relationships. Indeed, research has shown that fighting about money is one of the top causes of conflict among couples.

And, while it might seem like bad habits and money arguments are things you can simply resolve on your own, the reality is that it’s often not that simple. That’s where financial therapy can help.

•   Many financial roadblocks, such as chronic overspending or constantly worrying about money, often aren’t exclusively financial. In many cases, psychological, relational, and behavioral issues are also at play.

•   Financial therapy can help patients recognize problematic behaviors, such as compulsive or impulsive shopping. It also aims to help people understand how various relationships and experiences may have led them to develop those behaviors as coping mechanisms or to form unrealistic or unhealthy beliefs.

•   Along with offering practical financial advice, a financial therapist can reduce the feelings of shame, anxiety, and fear related to money. It can help people who are struggling to recommit to money goals.

The reasons why financial therapy can help are the same as why traditional psychological therapy can help: It can lead people to understand that they can do something to improve their situation. That, in turn, can instigate changes and healthier behaviors.

Like conventional therapy, the number of sessions needed will vary, depending on the situation. A financial therapy relationship can last from a few months to longer.

Generally, a financial therapist’s work is “done” when you feel your finances are orderly and you have the skills to keep them that way in the future.

Recommended: Tips for Recovering from Money Addiction

Financial Therapists vs. Financial Advisors

Financial advisors are professionals who help manage your money.

They are typically well-informed about their clients’ specific situations and can help with any number of money-related tasks, such as managing investments, brokering the purchase of stocks and funds, or creating a retirement plan.

However, psychological therapy is not why financial advisors are hired, nor is it their area of expertise.

If a person requires real emotional support or needs help breaking bad money habits, a licensed mental health professional, such as a financial therapist, should likely be involved.

A certified financial therapist (someone trained by the FTA) can work with you specifically on the emotional aspects of your relationship with money and provide support that gets to the root of deeper issues.

Due to the interdisciplinary nature of financial therapy, professionals who enroll in FTA education and certification include psychologists, marriage and family therapists, social workers, financial planners, accountants, counselors, and coaches. Some experts recommend being sure that the professional you work with is first and foremost a licensed therapist with a deep understanding of psychology.

Financial TherapistsFinancial Advisors
Address psychology relating to moneyAdvise on managing and investing money
Can be certified by the FTACan be certified as CPA, CFP, CFA, and ChFC, among other designations
Focus on behaviors and attitudesFocus on budgeting and growth

Get up to $300 when you bank with SoFi.

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account with direct deposit and get up to a $300 cash bonus. Plus, get up to 4.60% APY on your cash!


Financial Therapy vs. Other Therapy

If you are having issues related to money (say, losing sleep due to anxiety or arguing with your partner about spending), you might think almost any mental health professional could help.

A financial therapist, however, can be your best bet in this situation. These professionals have special training and expertise related to how money can impact a person’s emotional wellness.

They also are also trained in techniques to help clients overcome issues related to money. In other words, they are laser-focused on the kind of emotional responses and problematic habits that crop up around money.

Do You Need a Financial Therapist?

If you’re considering whether a financial therapist could help you, you may want to think about your general relationship to money.

If you feel you have anxiety about money, or unhealthy behaviors and feelings when it comes to spending, budgeting, saving, or investing, you might benefit from exploring financial therapy.

Often, unhealthy saving, spending, or working habits are a symptom of other negative habits related to mental health (feelings of low self-worth, for instance).

Keep in mind that it’s possible to have an unhealthy relationship with money even if your finances are good on paper.

💡 Quick Tip: Want a simple way to save more everyday? When you turn on Roundups, all of your debit card purchases are automatically rounded up to the next dollar and deposited into your online savings account.

Top 4 Reasons People Seek Financial Therapists

Here’s a more specific look at why a person might benefit from financial therapy.

1. Avoiding Money Management

Some people hide from their finances. They don’t budget, don’t know exactly how much they earn, pay bills late (or not at all). Working with a financial therapist could expose the root of this behavior and improve financial management.

2. Money Stress

Many people have anxiety around their money. This could involve worrying about how they will pay off their debt to worrying about going bankrupt, even though they are earning a good salary. Others may feel guilty about spending money or carry a lot of trauma about money from their childhood. A financial therapist can work to explore and resolve these emotions.

3. Fighting About Finances

If you often argue with your partner, friends, or other loved ones about money, you might find that a financial therapist can help you defuse this source of tension. It can help couples deal with what’s known as financial infidelity.

4. Poor Money Habits

Do you tend to “shop til you drop” when bored? Have you spent or gambled away your emergency fund? Do you overwork yourself in an effort to accumulate wealth? Do you tend to hop from one “get rich quick” scheme to another? A financial therapist could help you break these habits and develop new, beneficial ones.

These are some of the scenarios that a financial therapist could help you with.

Finding a Financial Therapist

Like choosing any therapist, you often need to shop around a bit to find the right fit—someone you feel you can relate to, trust, and you also feel understands you.

For those who may not have access to a financial therapy professional in their backyard, many offer services via video conferencing.

You can start your search with the Find A Financial Therapist tool on the FTA website, which features members and lists their credentials and specialties.

Your accountant or financial counselor might also be a good source of referrals.

As with choosing any other financial expert or mental health professional, it’s a good idea to speak with a few potential candidates. In your initial conversations with candidates, you may want to discuss the therapist’s training and specific area of expertise, as well as your needs and situation. This can help you assess how good a match they are.

It can also be a good idea to ask how long they have been providing financial therapy services, what their fees are, as well as if some or all of the fee may be covered by your medical insurance.

The Takeaway

Financial therapy merges financial with emotional support to help people deal with and improve stress, decision-making, and habit-forming related to money.

If you frequently feel stressed and/or overwhelmed when you think about money (or you simply avoid thinking about money as much as possible), you might be able to benefit from at least a few sessions of financial therapy.

While it might seem like hiring a financial therapist is another expense that could complicate an already difficult financial situation, it might be better to view it as an investment in your emotional and financial wellness, one that could help you build financial stability and wealth in the future. It can be an important facet of your overall money management.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.

Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall.* Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

What does a financial therapist do?

A financial therapist combines expertise in psychology and finances to help people improve their attitudes toward money and their habits relating to money. They can help individuals manage such issues as money anxiety, overspending, and financial infidelity.

Is financial therapy the same as financial planning?

Financial therapy and financial planning are not the same thing. Financial therapy can help a person improve their attitude toward money and their behaviors related to money. Financial planning is focused on budgeting, debt management, and growth of wealth.

Can therapy help with finances?

Therapy can help with finances. You might have stress related to money due to childhood trauma centered on finances. Or you might be compulsively overspending or ignoring your money due to emotions about such matters. Financial therapy could help you work through these and other issues.


SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.


SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a recurring deposit of regular income to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government benefit payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, or are non-recurring in nature (e.g., IRS tax refunds), do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

As an alternative to direct deposit, SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

SOBK0323033

TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender