How Businesses Benefit from Financial Therapy
Updated: Jul 30
The COVID-19 lockdowns that ground local economies to a halt may be over, but the financial challenge of being a small business owner is not. The emotional rollercoaster of small business ownership goes on, taking owners through the highs of growth to the lows of increasing debt.
Owning a small business has long been considered an emotionally challenging experience, but it’s only recently that business owners have begun addressing this through financial therapy.
What Is Financial Therapy?
The word “therapy” often makes people think of the types of therapy that a licensed therapist uses to help people resolve complex issues like addiction or childhood trauma. But there are emotional and behavioral responses involved with money as well.
Financial therapy helps people sort through issues related to money, allowing them to make clear money-related decisions.
How Does a Financial Therapist Help Business Owners?
If there is an area of overlap between financial planning and talk therapy, that is the area occupied by financial therapy. A financial therapist does not give financial advice but rather works with a business owner to uncover the emotions driving their financial decisions.
To put it another way, financial therapists don’t just discuss numbers, but the feelings that give the numbers importance.
Emotions and Small Business Ownership
Small business owners and entrepreneurs are often highly motivated people who must fight through the lean years of business ownership in order to reach the market for their service and find success. Without success, a business will fail. So it almost goes without saying that small business owners experience a lot of stress as they work to make their dream a reality.
But the stress of business ownership doesn’t end when success becomes a reality. According to a survey in 2021, 52% of small business owners felt stress during the previous year. This was up 7% from the year before. That this survey was conducted during the pandemic highlights the fact that some of the stress business owners experience is the result of factors they can’t control.
How Long Has Financial Therapy Been Available?
Business owners first started recognizing a need for financial therapy during the Great Recession, between 2007 and 2009. People running businesses under the pressure of negative economic forces found that financial advisors were ill-equipped to handle the emotional impact. Financial advisors want to deal with numbers, not the emotions behind the numbers.
As a result, financial therapists sprung up to fill the need and tended to come from one of two backgrounds. They were either therapists who tooled up financially or financial advisors who got licensed as therapists. Today, there is an accrediting body called the Financial Therapy Association that runs a financial therapist certification program for both therapists and financial advisors.
When Should I Consider Financial Therapy?
It is always a good time to get help with understanding why you make the decisions that you do in regard to money. It is common for people to think of a therapist as someone you go to when there is a major problem. Financial therapy is no exception to this rule. But you can also use financial therapy proactively. You may not necessarily be in a financial crisis, but fears in relation to money may be hampering your business potential.
Choosing a Financial Therapist
When choosing a financial therapist, it’s important to look for credentials that indicate quality, professionalism, and expertise. A good first stop is the Financial Therapy Association, which can help you search for certified financial therapists.
If you can’t find certified financial therapists in your area, then try looking for:
a therapist who advertises a specific focus on financial therapy
a licensed therapist who also has a background in financial planning
Google reviews that support a therapist’s viability as a financial therapist
Owning a small business or starting a new venture can be far more stressful than working a 9-to-5 job. Business owners often live with money pressures and financial fears 24/7. Financial therapy can help you recognize the sources of your fears or business decisions in a neutral, judgment-free space and give you the tools to move forward in a positive direction.
Christopher Raley is a content specialist with Ark Behavioral Health, an addiction treatment provider offering a full range of treatment options for addiction and mental health care, including inpatient drug rehab and outpatient treatment services.