Years ago, I disclosed to my financial planning clients that I had my own financial planner. Their reactions fell into two categories. The first was, “Should I be worried?” from those who wondered whether this was a sign of incompetence. The second was, “That’s a strong endorsement of the value of your profession,” from those who saw it as a sign of wisdom. Obviously, I see it as the latter.
I would also be reluctant to work as a client with a financial therapist, or any therapist, who did not have their own therapist or had never done their own therapeutic work.
If a financial therapist’s home discipline is in mental health, I think there’s a high probability that they have done or are doing their own therapy. I believe I’ve seen statistics that some 84% of all therapists have at one time done their own personal work. Only 13% of graduate programs require therapists to do their own therapy, but a common ethic in the counseling profession is that practitioners need to do their own work in order to provide the best services to their clients.
When it comes to a financial therapist whose home discipline is financial planning, I think there’s a much lower probability that they have a therapist and an even lower probability that they’ve done financial therapy.
I make this assumption in part because I know it’s unusual for a financial planner to have their own financial planner. When I surveyed over 40 financial planners back in 2008, I found that 87% did not have a financial planner—just the opposite of the percentage of therapists who have done therapy. So why the resistance? I think the number one reason is that they believe they can do their own financial planning.
I’ve written about the many personal and professional benefits of financial planners having their own planners. A few of them are: having objective opinions from another professional, protecting their family in case of their own death or disability, providing better client service as a result of both observing another planner’s practice and having the experience of being a client, and having someone give priority to their planning instead of being the last client on their own list.
There are similar benefits for a financial therapist in being a therapy client. I can absolutely attest to this in the IFS Informed Financial Therapy that I do with clients. I am into my sixth year of doing weekly sessions with my IFS therapist. I would say that 50% of the things that come up in sessions with my clients were not covered in my IFS training, yet my own work as a client greatly informs my effectiveness with those clients.
As a result, if you are looking for a financial therapist, one of the questions I recommend asking is, “Do you have a financial planner and a therapist?” If the answer is no, I would ask them to tell you more about the reasons why. If the answer is yes, I would suggest that is a positive sign. They are wise enough to be actively engaged in the same self-care that you as a consumer are seeking from them.
Check out The Financial Therapy Podcast by Rick Kahler concerning this topic.