Do you need a financial ther­a­pist?

Can financial ther­apy help you deal with money stress?

ELLE (Canada) - - Insider - By Christina Reynolds

kristy Archuleta has a job ti­tle that didn’t ex­ist 10 years ago: She’s a financial ther­a­pist. Of­fi­cially, she’s a li­censed mar­riage and fam­ily ther­a­pist and an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of per­sonal financial plan­ning at Kansas State Univer­sity. “I in­te­grate emo­tion and be­hav­iour into financial de­ci­sion mak­ing,” she says of the new psy­cho­log­i­cal spe­cialty, which she likens to the field of sex ther­apy. “As a ther­a­pist, you would never dream of work­ing with a cou­ple on in­ti­macy is­sues with­out hav­ing some train­ing in sex ther­apy, and the is­sues are some­what par­al­lel with money,” she says. “It can be trust is­sues; it can be com­mu­ni­ca­tion is­sues.” ELLE Canada spoke with Archuleta about what we can learn about our­selves—and our fi­nances—by tak­ing a closer look at our re­la­tion­ship with money.

Do most of us need to change our at­ti­tude about money? “Ev­ery­body has be­liefs and at­ti­tudes about money, but we’re not al­ways aware of them. So, per­sonal be­liefs like ‘I be­lieve that money can be used for good’ or ‘I be­lieve that money is the root of evil’ are go­ing to af­fect how you man­age your money. Whether you’re able to change those be­liefs or not is one thing, but the way you ap­proach a financial be­hav­iour can be changed through rec­og­niz­ing what those be­liefs are.” So is the first step ask­ing “What do I know about my financial be­liefs?” “Yes, ex­actly. [Financial psy­chol­o­gists] Drs. Ted Klontz and Brad Klontz say ‘Think about your ear­li­est money mem­ory. How has that con­trib­uted to what you be­lieve about money now?’ And peo­ple are very sur­prised at that and say ‘Huh, you know what? The very first mem­ory of money that I have re­ally has had a pro­found im­pact on how I think of money now.’ A lot of th­ese mem­o­ries are very in­grained. They’re cre­ated from our fam­i­lies and from the com­mu­ni­ties that we grew up in, and they stay with us into adult­hood.” What was your first money mem­ory, and how has it af­fected you? “I re­mem­ber my par­ents tak­ing me to a bank to set up a sav­ings ac­count. I’m guess­ing I was in sec­ond or third grade. Be­cause I started out with a sav­ings ac­count, I think that’s some­thing that has al­ways been im­por­tant to me: hav­ing that sav­ings com­po­nent and be­ing re­ally ul­tra-re­spon­si­ble with my money.” So once some­one has looked back on money mem­o­ries, how can he or she move for­ward? “The next step is to look at your goals. What are some re­ally con­crete things that you can do to reach your money goals? So if, say, you start open­ing your mail— and I’ve had clients who did not open their mail be­cause they were avoid­ing bills—and deal with it by adding $10 to your next credit-card pay­ment, you start to get over the fear of what’s com­ing in and what’s go­ing out. You know what to ex­pect, and you are phys­i­cally do­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent from what you’ve done

be­fore. You’re cre­at­ing a dif­fer­ent re­sult. So th­ese seem­ingly ‘tiny’ things, for some peo­ple, can be huge.” How do you help cou­ples deal with

money is­sues? “One re­search study found that money may not nec­es­sar­ily be the most-fought-about topic, but when it is fought about, it’s the most-in­tensely-fought-about topic. So peo­ple are re­ally stressed about this. For the past cou­ple of years, the Amer­i­can Psy­cho­log­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion has done a sur­vey of the U.S. pop­u­la­tion and found that money is the num­ber-one stres­sor for Amer­i­cans. If cou­ples have had dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ences with money, they can clash on how to solve is­sues around it and that can cre­ate a lot of stress and anx­i­ety. So with cou­ples, I ask ‘What did you ex­pe­ri­ence with your fam­ily about money? How did you de­velop your money be­liefs?’ When each per­son be­gins to un­der­stand where the other is com­ing from, it is eas­ier for them to be em­pa­thetic, like ‘Now I know why you do what you do. What can we do to­gether to over­come that?’ What are they go­ing to do to­gether to move for­ward? I work on com­mu­ni­ca­tion and trust build­ing, but I also move be­yond that with money-man­age­ment skills that I can help them im­ple­ment: Let’s track your ex­penses, let’s look at what your as­sets are, let’s look at what your debts are, let’s build a bud­get. I re­ally em­power that cou­ple, or the in­di­vid­ual, with the abil­ity to make changes and reach their goal.” There aren’t a lot of financial ther­a­pists yet—there is only one Cana­dian listed with the Financial Ther­apy As­so­ci­a­tion. What other help do you rec­om­mend? “Find a financial plan­ner who might col­lab­o­rate with a men­tal-health pro­fes­sional and meet with them to­gether. Or work out your bud­get with a financial plan­ner and bring that to a psy­chol­o­gist.”

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