Financial Wellness: Therapist's Relationship with Money
At Glow My Space, we understand that a holistic approach to self-care extends beyond emotional well-being. One often overlooked but vital aspect is Financial Self-Care – a foundation that contributes to overall stability and peace of mind. Financial self-care can include different components. In this section, we will focus on the fee we charge for our services, the relationship we have with money, and on some exercises you may use to address your money believes and behaviors. Join us as as we take a closer look at the essence of financial self-care.
To read about all other therapist's financial matters
Setting a Fair Fee: Tips for Mental Health Therapists
Determining the right fee for your services is a crucial aspect of running a successful and sustainable mental health practice. It is important that as a mental health professional, you recognize the value of the services you provide. Your education, expertise, and the positive impact you have on clients' lives deserve fair compensation. We want to encourage you to acknowledge the unique skills and qualities you bring to your practice. When is time to decide your fee, remember: the fee you charge is not for 1 hour; it is for your long years of education and experience.
To set our fee, we need to factor in our business expenses as well. This includes things such as rent for your office space, utilities, insurance premiums, professional memberships, and ongoing education costs. Ensuring your fee covers these expenses is essential for the sustainability of your practice.
According to an article published by CAMFT: "therapist’s fees should take into account what other therapists charge in the geographic area, the therapist’s experience, special knowledge and expertise, and the particular market that the therapist is hoping to reach."
Research the market rates for therapy services in your area. Consider factors such as the local cost of living, the demand for mental health services, and the rates charged by other therapists with similar qualifications and experience.
Consider the demographics and financial capacity of your target clientele. Understanding the economic circumstances of the population you aim to serve helps you set a fee that is accessible to your intended clients while meeting your financial needs.
If you have specialized training or offer unique services, you may be able to command a higher fee. Highlighting the specific expertise you bring to your practice can justify premium pricing.
Be transparent with your clients about your fee structure. Clearly communicate the cost of sessions, any additional fees, and your policies regarding payment methods and late cancellations. Transparency builds trust and fosters a positive therapeutic relationship.
Offering sliding scale options can make your services more accessible to individuals with varying financial capacities. Establish clear criteria for sliding scale eligibility and ensure the process is respectful and confidential.
Regularly review your fee structure and assess whether it aligns with the current market trends, your expenses, and the value you provide. Be open to adjusting your fees periodically to reflect changes in your practice and the economic landscape. Consider the impact of your fee on your own well-being. Burnout can occur when therapists undervalue their services. You may also experience a sense of resentment if charging clients too little, especially after you hear that they keep engaging in unnecessary spendings that could have easily cover your full fee.
Consult with colleagues or industry professionals to gain insights into fee-setting practices. Peer consultation and mentorship can provide valuable perspectives and help you make informed decisions.
Setting a fair fee is a dynamic and thoughtful process that requires balancing various factors. At Glow My Space, we encourage therapists to approach fee-setting as an integral part of their business strategy and wellbeing. Your services are valuable, and setting a fair fee not only supports your practice but also contributes to the sustainability of mental health services in your community.
Dear fellow therapists, it's imperative that we also turn our gaze inward and explore our own relationship with money. The connection between our professional practice and our financial well-being is intricate and deeply personal. The following guide is an invitation to reflect on and nurture a healthier relationship with money.
Therapist's Relationship with Money: Exploring Money Beliefs
As therapists, our relationship with money often has roots in the beliefs instilled during our upbringing. Let's embark on a reflective journey to uncover these beliefs, understanding how they shape our financial mindset.
Consider the messages you received about money during your formative years. Were discussions about finances open and transparent, or did money remain a hushed topic? For example, if your family avoided money conversations, you might have developed a belief that money is secretive or taboo.
Example from therapist Maria:
Growing up, my family rarely discussed money matters openly. Financial decisions seemed shrouded in mystery. As a result, I internalized the belief that money was something to be kept private, leading to a tendency to avoid discussing financial topics openly so it's difficult for me to ask for support in this area.
Reflect on the attitudes your family held towards wealth. Was there a belief that wealth equated to success and happiness, or was there a more modest perspective? These attitudes often shape our aspirations and expectations around financial success.
Example from counselor Mark:
"In my family, there was a strong emphasis on hard work and contentment with what we had. While this instilled a sense of gratitude, it also led to a belief that pursuing financial success might be perceived as excessive or unnecessary. It is difficult for me to set higher financial goals."
Examine how cultural influences may have contributed to your money beliefs. Different cultures place varying emphasis on saving, spending, and the pursuit of financial goals. Reflect on how your cultural background has influenced your financial mindset.
Example from CSW Keiko:
"Coming from a culture that prioritizes collective well-being over individual success, I learned that financial decisions should benefit the community. This collective mindset has influenced my approach to money, emphasizing shared resources and support, but it has also led to feelings of guilt when I need to raise my fees."
Consider how your upbringing influences your spending habits. Were you taught to be frugal or to enjoy the pleasures that money can bring? The way we spend often reflects deeper beliefs about self-worth and fulfillment.
Example from MFT Jordan:
"Growing up in a household where saving was paramount, I developed a habit of meticulously budgeting and avoiding unnecessary expenses. While this has its merits, it sometimes leads to difficulty in embracing indulgences or treating myself."
Evaluate whether your current money beliefs align with the values you uphold as a therapist. For instance, if your therapeutic philosophy emphasizes abundance and well-being, assess whether your financial mindset supports these principles.
Example from therapist and couch Linda:
"As a professional committed to fostering abundance in the lives of my clients, I realized that my hesitation to invest in professional development was incongruent with this philosophy. Aligning my financial mindset with my therapeutic values involved acknowledging the importance of personal and professional growth for myself. I had a hard time prioritizing time and money to my own growth."
Examine how your beliefs about money shape your financial goals. Are your aspirations grounded in security, altruism, or personal fulfillment? Understanding these underlying motivations can offer insights into your financial mindset.
Example from consultant Laura:
My goal of creating a financial safety net emerged from a childhood experience of economic instability. While this goal is rooted in a desire for security, it's crucial to balance it with aspirations that contribute to personal and professional fulfillment. Because I was so afraid of being hungry again, I always selected positions that would give me a stable salary, instead of taking the risk of building up my own business."
While you read the following statements, take a moment to reflect on your own experience.
You may hold into a belief that resources, including money, are scarce and must be hoarded. This mindset may lead to anxiety about financial security and reluctance to invest in personal or professional growth.
Associating personal or professional success solely with financial achievements, might lead therapists to feel pressured to pursue monetary gains as a measure of their worth.
Growing up in an environment where money discussions were avoided may lead therapists to feel uncomfortable or hesitant when addressing financial matters with clients or colleagues.
Facing the burden of inherited debts or financial challenges from family may instill a fear of financial instability, impacting risk-taking behavior or entrepreneurial pursuits.
Some therapists have internalized the belief that personal well-being should be sacrificed for financial stability. This may manifest as therapists prioritizing work over self-care or delaying personal pursuits due to financial concerns.
Repeating financial behaviors observed in previous generations, whether positive or negative, could include patterns of frugality, overspending, or a lack of financial planning.
Believing that one's self-worth is directly tied to earnings or financial success might lead therapists to experience feelings of inadequacy during periods of financial challenges.
Families with an entrepreneurial spirit may encourage risk-taking, while risk-averse families may instill caution. These attitudes can shape therapists' approaches to career choices and financial decisions.
Believing in delayed gratification, saving for the future, versus instant gratification, seeking immediate rewards can influence therapists' attitudes toward financial planning and investment.
Having experienced money-related stress or conflict within the family while growing up may contribute to therapists' heightened sensitivity to financial matters and the tendency to recreate financial stress in their own lives because it is familiar to them.
Many individuals hold religious beliefs that profoundly influence their perspectives on money, shaping their values, financial decisions, and attitudes toward wealth and material possessions.
Here are some common phrases that therapists may have heard in their families or encountered in society that could have shaped their money beliefs. Which one/s do you recognize?
"Money doesn't grow on trees."
Suggests that money is hard to come by and should be treated with extreme caution.
"Save for a rainy day."
Emphasizes the importance of building a financial safety net for unforeseen circumstances.
"Money is the root of all evil."
Reflects a belief that the pursuit of wealth may lead to negative consequences.
"You have to work hard to make money."
Implies that financial success is directly tied to the amount of effort put into work.
"Live within your means."
Encourages individuals to spend only what they can afford and avoid accumulating debt.
"It's not about how much you make but how much you save."
Highlights the importance of saving money as a key financial goal.
"Money can't buy happiness."
Suggests that material wealth is not the key to a fulfilling and happy life.
"Invest in experiences, not things."
Advocates for prioritizing memorable experiences over material possessions.
"You'll never get rich working for someone else."
Encourages entrepreneurship and the pursuit of financial independence.
"Put your money to work for you."
Encourages the idea of investing money to generate passive income.
"Debt is a necessary evil."
Suggests that taking on debt is sometimes unavoidable for financial progress.
"The more you make, the more you spend."
Implies that increased income often leads to increased spending.
"Money is power."
Suggests that financial resources contribute to influence and control.
"You have to spend money to make money."
Advocates for strategic investments as a means of financial growth.
"Don't talk about money; it's impolite."
Reflects a cultural or familial discomfort with discussing financial matters openly.
"There's always more month than money."
Expresses the struggle of making ends meet and living paycheck to paycheck.
"It's too expensive; we can't afford it."
Instills a sense of financial limitation and constraint.
"Money is a tool."
Emphasizes the idea that money should be used as a means to achieve goals and aspirations.
Therapists may encounter these phrases in their families, communities, or cultural contexts, and these sayings can significantly shape their attitudes and beliefs about money. Recognizing and reflecting on these influences can help therapists understand their financial mindset and navigate their relationship with money more consciously.
The Childhood Thermostat: Unconscious Financial Set Points
In the realm of financial well-being, our experiences during childhood often act as an invisible thermostat, setting a temperature for our future financial journey. This metaphor suggests that, much like a thermostat regulating temperature, our unconscious beliefs and experiences around money create a default setting that we unconsciously return to, impacting our financial progress.
The concept of a childhood thermostat in finances draws parallels to the familiar comfort zones established during our formative years. Our financial attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors become ingrained, creating a set point that feels familiar and comfortable.
Similar to a thermostat adjusting the temperature back to a set point, individuals may unconsciously find themselves reverting to familiar financial patterns established in childhood. This return to the familiar is a default mode, even if it doesn't align with current goals or aspirations.
If an individual grew up in a household where there was a constant struggle to make ends meet, their childhood thermostat might be set to a state of financial struggle. Even if they experience financial success, there may be an unconscious pull to return to a state of financial difficulty. This is where self-sabotage can manifest, causing therapists to lose their jobs, engage in extra spending, etc. Perhaps this explains why people who win the lottery often find themselves returning to poverty.
The childhood thermostat influences financial decision-making, shaping choices related to earning, spending, saving, and investing. It acts as a silent force guiding individuals towards behaviors that resonate with their early financial experiences.
Someone raised in an environment where spending money was associated with guilt or anxiety may find themselves hesitating to make significant purchases, even if they have the means to do so. The childhood thermostat discourages deviating from the familiar emotional state.
Efforts to challenge the financial comfort zones set by the childhood thermostat can be met with resistance. Stepping into unfamiliar financial territories may trigger discomfort, akin to adjusting the thermostat to a temperature unfamiliar to the household. For example,
an individual raised with a scarcity mindset might feel uneasy when presented with opportunities for financial abundance. The discomfort arises from the dissonance between the childhood thermostat's set point and the potential for financial prosperity.
Being different from our family of origin requires a process of separation and individuation. Could it be that our specie is so wired to have a sense of belonging that changing our financial set point pulls us apart from our family of origin and sense of belonging? Could our inner child feel that we are somehow abandoning our family by being different? Read that again : - )
We can all work towards conscious rewiring of our childhood financial thermostat. This involves identifying limiting beliefs, exploring their origin, and intentionally choosing new financial narratives that align with our current goals and aspirations.
Changing Money Believes
Changing your money beliefs involves a thoughtful approach. Embarking on a journey of self-discovery in the realm of finances can be transformative. Here are personalized interventions crafted just for you:
Reflective Journaling Exercise:
Delve into reflective journaling to uncover your money beliefs. Explore your earliest memories related to money, dissect messages received from family, and unravel emotions and patterns associated with financial experiences. Regular journaling unveils patterns, offering insights into your deep-seated beliefs.
Here are some prompt ideas to journal about childhood experiences related to money:
Earliest Money Memories:
Reflect on your earliest memories involving money. What comes to mind when you think about your first encounters with money as a child?
Family Money Dynamics:
Explore the dynamics of money within your family during childhood. How was money handled, discussed, or perceived by your family members?
Money Lessons from Family:
Consider the explicit and implicit lessons you learned about money from your family. What messages were conveyed about earning, spending, saving, and sharing?
Financial Struggles or Successes:
Recollect any financial struggles or successes your family experienced during your childhood. How did these experiences shape your understanding of money?
Early Purchases and Desires:
Think about the first things you bought with your own money or items you desired as a child. What do these early choices reveal about your values or priorities?
Family Traditions and Money:
Examine any money-related traditions within your family. Did your family have specific rituals, habits, or customs related to finances?
Role Models and Money:
Identify any significant role models or figures in your childhood who influenced your perceptions of money. How did they handle financial matters?
Financial Rituals or Routines:
Reflect on any routines or rituals your family had regarding money, such as budgeting, allowances, or financial discussions. How did these practices contribute to your financial awareness?
Feelings Around Money:
Explore the emotions you associate with money during your childhood. Did money bring joy, anxiety, security, or other emotions? How have these emotional connections persisted into adulthood?
Money Lessons Learned:
Consider the valuable lessons or insights about money that you gained during your childhood. How do these early lessons continue to influence your financial behaviors today?
Financial Challenges Faced:
Recall any financial challenges your family faced during your childhood. How did these challenges impact your perspective on financial stability and security?
Early Savings or Spending Habits:
Think about your early habits regarding saving or spending money. Did you have any patterns or tendencies that stood out during your childhood?
Remember to approach these prompts with a sense of curiosity and openness. Journaling about childhood experiences related to money can provide valuable insights into the roots of your current financial beliefs and behaviors.
Money Autobiography Exercise:
Craft your personal money autobiography. Chronicle significant financial events, your emotional responses, and key influencers in your financial journey. This exercise aids in understanding the narrative you've constructed around money and identifies areas for exploration and change.
Begin by creating a comprehensive narrative that captures the essence of your financial journey. Imagine your life as a story, and your relationship with money as a central plotline. As you embark on this introspective journey, consider the following prompts to guide you in crafting your personal Money Autobiography:
Significant Financial Events:
Reflect on the most pivotal financial events in your life. These could include moments of financial gain, loss, windfalls, or challenges. Describe each event in detail, outlining the circumstances and your role in them.
Explore the emotional landscape surrounding your financial experiences. Identify the range of emotions you felt during significant financial events. Delve into feelings of joy, stress, satisfaction, anxiety, or any other emotions tied to your money journey.
Identify the key influencers in your financial narrative. These could be family members, mentors, friends, or societal figures who played a significant role in shaping your attitudes and beliefs about money.
Chronicle the financial milestones you've achieved or strived for throughout your life. These milestones may include educational expenses, major purchases, investments, or any other financial goals you've pursued.
Defining Financial Choices:
Examine the choices you've made regarding money. Whether it's career decisions, spending habits, or investments, detail the thought processes behind these choices and the impact they've had on your financial story.
Money and Relationships:
Consider the intersection of money and relationships in your life. Reflect on how financial dynamics have influenced your relationships with family, friends, romantic partners, or colleagues.
Financial Lessons Learned:
Extract the lessons you've learned from your financial experiences. Identify the wisdom gained from both successes and challenges. Reflect on how these lessons have contributed to your current understanding of money.
Explore any shifts or changes in your perspectives on money over time. Have there been moments of transformation or enlightenment that altered the way you approach financial matters?
Cultural and Societal Influences:
Acknowledge the impact of cultural and societal influences on your money autobiography. Consider how societal norms, cultural expectations, or economic conditions have shaped your financial narrative.
Identify specific areas in your money autobiography that call for exploration and change. Are there patterns, beliefs, or behaviors that you wish to better understand or modify for a more fulfilling financial future? Remember, this exercise is a personal exploration, and there are no right or wrong answers. Allow your narrative to unfold organically, capturing the nuances of your unique relationship with money.
Money Mindfulness Exercise:
Integrate mindfulness exercises focused specifically on money. Engage in mindful practices, paying close attention to your emotions and thoughts during financial decisions. Mindful awareness fosters consciousness, helping you break automatic, habitual responses.
Here's an example exercise for Money Mindfulness:
The goal of this exercise is to shift your mindset towards abundance and foster gratitude in your financial experiences.
Find a quiet space where you won't be disturbed. Have a journal or notepad ready.
Begin with a few deep breaths to center yourself. Inhale positivity, and exhale any tension or stress related to money.
Reflect on Abundance:
Close your eyes and reflect on the concept of abundance. Consider the various ways in which abundance manifests in your life, beyond financial aspects. This could include relationships, opportunities, or personal strengths.
Open your eyes and start creating a gratitude list related to your finances. List at least five things you are grateful for in your financial situation. These could be income sources, financial support, or even lessons learned from financial challenges.
Repeat abundance-affirming statements to yourself. Examples include: "I attract financial abundance into my life," or "I am grateful for the abundance that flows to me in various forms." Repeat these affirmations several times.
Mindful Spending Intention:
If you have planned expenses or purchases for the day, set an intention for mindful and abundant spending. Affirm that you have the resources to meet your needs and make conscious choices.
Conscious Purchases with Gratitude:
As you make each purchase, do so with a sense of gratitude. Reflect on the fact that you have the means to make this purchase and express thanks for the value it brings to your life.
After each spending transaction, take a brief pause. Express silent gratitude for the ability to make that purchase and for the positive impact it brings.
Throughout the day, periodically reflect on the gratitude list you created. Allow the positive energy from your reflections to permeate your overall mindset and interactions with money.
Closing Gratitude Meditation:
Conclude the exercise at night before going to sleep with a short gratitude meditation. Focus on the abundance in your life, extending beyond finances. Express thanks for the opportunities, support, and resources that contribute to your overall well-being.
This exercise encourages a shift from scarcity to abundance by fostering gratitude in financial experiences. By mindfully acknowledging the positive aspects of your financial situation, you can cultivate a mindset of abundance and attract positive energy into your financial journey.
Financial Genogram Exercise:
Visualize your financial patterns across generations through a financial genogram. Highlight inherited beliefs, roles, and behaviors related to money within your family system. Identifying these patterns assists in understanding the roots of your money beliefs.
Here is a list of prompts to help you identify relevant information:
Identify and list the primary sources of income for each family member identified in the genogram (it can include the generation of your parents, grandparents, and so on). Include employment, business ventures, investments, or any other sources contributing to the family's financial inflow.
Document significant financial milestones experienced by family members. This could include major purchases, educational achievements, career advancements, or any events that significantly impacted the family's financial trajectory.
Financial Roles and Responsibilities:
Outline the roles and responsibilities each family member assumed or asumes regarding finances. This may include budgeting, bill payment, investment decisions, or financial planning.
Debt and Liabilities:
Record any existing debts or liabilities for each family member. Include mortgages, loans, credit card debt, or any financial obligations that influence or influenced the family's overall financial well-being.
Financial Values and Beliefs:
Explore the values and beliefs surrounding money within the family. Note each family member's attitude toward spending, saving, investing, and philanthropy.
Inherited Financial Behaviors:
Examine inherited financial behaviors passed down through generations. Identify patterns in how financial decisions are made, considering whether they align with cultural, familial, or societal norms.
Attitudes Toward Wealth:
Focus on family members' attitudes toward wealth. Explore perceptions of abundance, scarcity, or any emotional associations with financial success or challenges.
Financial Education and Literacy:
Assess the level of financial education and literacy within the family. Determine if there are generational differences in financial knowledge and whether certain financial practices are learned or self-discovered.
Identify generational trends in the family's financial history. Explore whether there are common themes or cycles related to economic circumstances, career choices, or financial decision-making.
Financial Communication Styles:
Investigate how family members have communicated about money. Note communication styles that have taken or take place during discussions about finances, decision-making, and addressing financial challenges.
Investment and Savings Patterns:
Document the family's approach to investments and savings. Identify whether there are preferences for certain types of investments, risk tolerance levels, or long-term financial planning strategies.
Explore any philanthropic activities or inclinations within the family. Determine if there are shared values related to charitable giving or community involvement.
Financial Support Networks:
Map out any financial support networks within the family. This may include financial assistance provided to relatives, financial dependence, or collaborative financial endeavors.
Financial Challenges and Coping Mechanisms:
Document any historical financial challenges faced by the family. Explore coping mechanisms or strategies employed during difficult financial periods.
Identify individual and collective financial aspirations. Consider short-term and long-term goals, as well as shared visions for financial success.
This set of prompts aims to guide the exploration of various facets of a family's financial dynamics, providing a comprehensive view of financial patterns, beliefs, and behaviors within the family system.
Narrative Therapy Technique:
If you are visual, externalize your money beliefs using narrative therapy techniques. Give your money beliefs a name or visualize them as characters. Objectifying the belief makes it easier to explore its influence and challenge its validity.
Objective: The goal of this exercise is to externalize and explore your money beliefs as separate entities, enabling you to gain a fresh perspective and challenge their influence.
Set the Stage:
Find a quiet and comfortable space where you can focus without distractions. Have a journal or notepad ready for reflection.
Take a few deep breaths to center yourself. Reflect on the money beliefs or thoughts you want to externalize. Consider how these beliefs may have influenced your financial decisions and mindset.
Give Your Money Beliefs Names:
Begin by assigning names to your money beliefs. Choose names that resonate with the essence of each belief. For example, if you have a belief related to scarcity, you might name it "Scarlet Scarcity" or another creative name that captures its character.
Close your eyes and visualize each money belief as a distinct character or entity. Imagine their appearance, traits, and how they interact with you. Are they supportive, critical, nurturing, or challenging? Take note of their personalities.
Create Character Descriptions:
Open your eyes and start jotting down descriptions of each money belief character in your journal. Include details like appearance, demeanor, and the kind of influence they have on your financial thoughts and behaviors. You make also draw your characters.
Dialogue with Characters:
Engage in a written or mental dialogue with each money belief character. Ask them questions like:
"What messages do you constantly convey to me about money?"
"How do you influence my financial decisions?"
"What emotions or thoughts do you evoke in me?"
Challenge Their Validity:
As you interact with each character, begin challenging their validity. Explore whether their influence aligns with your current financial goals, values, and aspirations. Consider alternative perspectives that empower rather than limit you.
Express Gratitude or Set Boundaries:
Conclude the exercise by expressing gratitude for the insights gained. If certain money belief characters are hindering your financial well-being, consider setting boundaries or expressing your intention to transform their influence. You may also give them a big goodbye hug!
Reflect on Transformative Actions:
Reflect on actionable steps you can take to transform the influence of these money belief characters. Consider affirmations, mindset shifts, or specific behaviors that align with a more positive and empowering financial narrative.
Take a moment to acknowledge the insights gained and the power you hold in reshaping your relationship with money. Recognize that externalizing money beliefs is a step toward reclaiming control and fostering a healthier financial mindset.
Key Takeaway: Externalizing money beliefs through narrative therapy techniques allows you to view them objectively, fostering a deeper understanding of their influence. By personifying these beliefs, you gain the agency to challenge and reshape your financial narrative.
Therapy and Group Discussions:
You can attend personal therapy or group discussions where you can share your money beliefs and experiences in a supportive and non-judgmental environment. The collective exploration in a group creates a sense of shared understanding and solidarity, reducing the isolation that may accompany financial challenges.
Your path to financial well-being is unique and may unfold over time. We hope this reading has inspired positive changes in your financial mindset and on your path to holistic well-being. Glow My Space wishes you a transformative journey ahead.
To explore other areas of self-care as a therapist