What is Your (Therapeutic) Relationship to Money?

“It’s about so much more than the money…”

…she said, as we walked together up the hill to the office. She’d seen the video where I talked about the money mess we all have in our heads.

I wish it just didn’t matter…”, she said.

But it does…”, I replied. “In fact, I think that if we don’t pay attention to it, we can hurt our clients.” And she agreed.

I went on to say that one of the things I’ve had to come to terms with as a business owner, is exactly that. Because even though I write about it so often here on the blog, the truth is I really don’t care about money. Never have.

And that’s been a problem.

One of the first things we learned in grad school was how to establish what is called a “therapeutic relationship” with our clients. That relationship is absolutely necessary for creating the sacred container in which healing happens.

A strong therapeutic relationship is built on concepts like mutual respect, clear boundaries, and empowered collaboration. And it can be damaged when those things are not in place. When respect falters. When boundaries fail.

Or when we see our clients as somehow broken, and set ourselves up as heroes to the rescue.

That is dis-empowering at it’s best; disrespectful at it’s worst.

And one of the most common ways we dis-empower our clients is by not allowing – much less requiring – fair and proper payment for our work.

Even the poorest clients deserve the self respect that comes with finding some way to contribute to their care. A five dollar bill is a lot to some people, yet when they have the chance to offer that in return for a well crafted, lovingly delivered service, they are investing in their own well being.

And it feels better.

And to another client, a five thousand dollar payment feels just the same.

It’s not about the amount. It’s about the energy behind it – yours AND theirs.

Another way we do that is by not talking to our clients about money – at all.

As a provider, this shows up when you never tell them their insurance isn’t paying, when you keep forgetting to ask them for a co-pay, or when you don’t enforce your own payment policies.

The remedy can be simple. Setting clear rates, keeping clients up to date on the status of their accounts, and having easy payment systems in place are all examples of easy improvements that can make a difference.

But it really is about so much more than the money.

In fact, if you’re a psychotherapist or life coach, you may have a therapeutic obligation to ask them about their own relationship to money – just as you would explore any other important area of their life.

Their relationship to, and management of, their financial resources might be a symptom of a larger issue that needs attention. How does it impact their personal well being? Their relationships? Their home?

If you never ask, you’ll never know.

And as with so many things in this kind of work, we are called to walk our talk.

How would you answer those questions for yourself? How are you managing money in your own life? How is it impacting your own well being? Your relationships? Your home?

I know. It’s complicated. :)

But in the end, it comes back to making sure that you, too, have a healthy, therapeutic, relationship to money.

Do you see it as an energy-neutral tool that can help promote healing? Or an energy-negative that you just have to manage?

You may also like:

Surprising Ways Ideal Clients Boost Your Private Practice
What to Do About Set-Backs and Settled-For’s
5 of the Best Tools to Power Your Productivity
How to Survive – and Thrive – When You’re Running Your Own Business


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