Researchers observed six couples, aged 21 to 76, and analyzed how each communicated their concerns with financial therapists in 30- to 50-minute sessions.
“One woman was close to tears listening to her husband explain an early memory in their relationship about money that she didn’t understand at the time,” said financial planner and founder of the Financial Therapy Association, John Grable, in a press release concerning the study.
“The story helped explain his odd behavior that she always thought of as just being mean. They left clearly closer emotionally and financially feeling more powerful.”
Although the end result ultimately had a positive result, discussions about money can cause a powerful emotional trigger that regular financial planners aren’t typically trained to work with.
“I'm a financial planner; I love money. But, the last thing I want to happen is a couple coming in crying or yelling,” Grable said. “I'm uncomfortable with that, it makes me nervous. That's why we need therapists trained in this area.”
Financial therapists can double-down on these fronts to navigate through relationship issues and money.
Megan Ford, a financial therapist and director of the ASPIRE Clinic at the University of Georgia, affirmed that fights about money are a top culprit when it comes down to relationship woes.
"The No. 1 reason for arguments is often money," she said. "We know it and believe it but there is not a huge body of literature on the topic."
Moreover, there aren’t a lot of financial therapists in the U.S. The study found that there are only 50 financial therapists in the entire country that have the certification necessary to back up their work.
This number pales in comparison to the 80,000 certified financial planners and 50,000 family therapists available to Americans.
Regarding the small community that makes up this niche profession, Ford said: “Therapists need to work together to solve problems that occur around financial behaviors of couples and learn how to connect to all of their emotions.”