You probably won’t be surprised to hear that money and finances are common sources of stress for most people. Whether we like it or not, money is often at the core of how we assign value to various parts of our lives, and it can affect our self-esteem as well. What’s more, money is the practical foundation of how we afford the things we want and need to live our desired lives.
But despite its obvious importance, discussing money – with friends, family, partners, or even at work – is often taboo. This secrecy around money can make it an even more fraught part of our emotional lives, and financial worries are often tied to challenges like anxiety and relationship conflicts.
While traditional financial planning can help you manage your finances, therapy can help you process the emotional and psychological components tied to money. Read on for a few money-related scenarios that therapy can help with!
1. Managing spending
If you’re concerned about your spending habits, you might work through some of the following in therapy:
- Understanding the values behind your spending priorities. A therapist can help you examine how you set your spending priorities, and dig into the values behind those priorities. For instance, you might look at how your family’s spending habits growing up have shaped your own ideas about what is worth spending money on – and consider whether those ideas might be outdated.
- Learning strategies to improve impulse control. If you find yourself consistently overspending or breaking your budget rules, you can use therapy sessions to learn impulse-control skills, such as mindfulness practices.
- Taking a holistic look at how you allow your needs. In addition to helping us meet our basic needs, money is a vehicle for us to afford self-care routines. If you spend more money than you want to on something in particular (like drinks with friends), your therapist can help you consider other ways of meeting the same need (like having people over to your home).
2. Assessing income and self-worth
How much money you do or don’t make can have a huge impact on your mental health. With your therapist, you can explore issues like these:
- Understanding your ideas around income and self-worth. Is your sense of self based on income? How does that affect your day-to-day life and mental health?
- Considering how your work relates to your income. What are your goals around earning, and how might you work toward them more effectively? Are you fairly compensated for your work? If not, what can you do to change this?
- Exploring alternative ideas of self-worth. Where do you find meaning in your life, and how can you prioritize non-financial sources of value?
3. Reducing money-related anxiety
No matter what your finances actually look like, thinking about them can be anxiety-provoking, and anxiety can make it difficult to keep a realistic perspective on your financial life. A therapist can help you with this kind of anxiety in a number of different ways:
- Learning in-the-moment stress management techniques. These can include techniques like breathing exercises to help you stay calm when you’re dealing with money and financial planning.
- Build realistic and rational views of money and finances. Through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), you can learn to gain a more rational perspective on your finances and focus on the factors that are in your control.
- Processing any underlying issues that may be contributing to your anxiety around money, such as conflict with your family or partner.
4. Resolving financial conflicts for couples
Sharing a financial life with your significant other can lead to all kinds of unique challenges. Attending therapy together can support you and your partner in doing the following:
- Improving communication skills around money. How do the two of you discuss (or not discuss!) your finances? How are you similar to and/or different from each other when it comes to your feelings around money? A therapist can help you have these conversations and learn tools for continuing them effectively on your own.
- Understanding related relationship conflicts. Sometimes, fights that seem to be about money are really fights about intimacy, priorities, life goals, or any other aspect of your relationship – therapy can help you sort out and resolve these underlying issues.
- Planning for financial changes in your relationship, such as getting married or buying property together.
5. Dealing with inheritances and/or estates
When a family member dies, figuring out how to manage what they left behind often makes the grieving process all the more complicated. Whether you attend sessions on your own or with family members, you can get support around issues like these:
- Coping with grief and learning to support each other as you mourn the loss of your loved one.
- Planning for new financial realities. For example, you may have conflicting feelings about an inheritance you’ve received, and a therapist can help you process those feelings and figure out what comes next.
- Balancing the needs of different family members. For instance, you and your family members might disagree on what your loved one would have wanted you to do with their possessions. In therapy, you can get guidance for having difficult conversations and make a plan that satisfies everyone.
If you’re dealing with excessive financial stress or otherwise finding that money worries are taking up a lot of your time and energy, therapy might be the right choice for you.
When you work on money issues with a therapist, you can explore how to make money work for you and your happiness. Therapy can also be a supportive space for you to address and perhaps reconsider your core beliefs around finances, self-care, and how you value your time and energy.
If you think that therapy might be a helpful tool in improving your relationship with money, try using Zencare to learn more about different kinds of therapy and search for therapists and life coaches in your area.