Financial Therapy Certification

The Certified Financial Therapist-I™ (CFT-I™) designation will be a professional certification for both financial and mental health professionals conferred by the Financial Therapy Association. There are three planned levels of the certification, with Level I being the most foundational. To become a CFT-I™, individuals must meet specific educational and experience requirements across the areas of 1) financial therapy, 2) financial planning and financial counseling, and 3) therapeutic competencies. More information will be communicated here over the coming months, so please check back often for updates.

Requirements for CFT-I

1. Education
CFT-I™ applicants are required to have a Bachelor’s degree or higher in:

a. A Financial related field (e.g., financial planning, finance, consumer economics);
OR
b. A Mental Health related field (e.g., psychology, therapy/counseling, social work, human development);

OR
c. If you hold a Bachelor's degree in any other field, plus hold the CFP® or AFC® designation, the educational requirements will be considered met;

OR
d. If you hold anything other than what is outlined within points a, b, or c, you will need to submit for a special reviewin which the FTA Regulatory Committee will conduct a review to determine how your education aligns with certification requirements, which may include a review of your credentials, experience, formal education, and personal references.

2. Competency Training

Applicants must acquire the competencies for CFT-I™ certification via FTA's educational video series, as well as self-study. The FTA financial therapy certification video series will be available fall 2018, but applicants may begin preparing for the comprehensive examination at any time by reviewing the FTA's CFT-I™ Resource Guide and the CFT-I™ Competency Training Outline.

3. Experience

Applicants must demonstrate that they have completed the following experience requirements (Parts I-III).

Part I: The CFT-I™ experience requirement consists of a total of 500 hours*, 250 of which must be direct client service hours** (paid or volunteer is acceptable).
The remaining 250 hours can be earned through alternative experience, which includes:

      a. Additional direct client experience (up to 250 hours)

      b. Professional presentations (up to 50 hours)

      c. Teaching (up to 125 hours)

      d. Peer-reviewed research (up to 50 hours)

      e. Writing financial plans or conducting financial analyses (up to 125 hours)

*Documented hours within 15 years of the application date will be accepted.
**Those applicants who do not meet the minimum of 250 direct client services hours must complete an FTA financial therapy experience training course prior to receiving the designation. More information on experience training courses will be available soon.

Part II: Applicants will have a letter of reference submitted on their behalf attesting to their fulfillment of the experience requirement, as well as a brief narrative on their skills and character.

Part III: Applicants will also submit a summary narrative of how CFT-I™ education and financial therapy knowledge has impacted their thinking and/or work in their home discipline (a minimum of 1000 words, up to a maximum of 1500 words).

4. Examination

Applicants must successfully pass a comprehensive CFT-I™ certification exam after completing all necessary competency training and self-study. The CFT-I™ certification exam will consist of 100 multiple-choice questions and will be available via an online platform in fall 2018. The exam will have a 2-hour time limit.

5. Ethical Standards

Applicants must sign an agreement for adherence to the FTA Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics.

6. Continuing Education

Once certified, financial therapists must complete continuing education to maintain their certification. They also must maintain member in good standing status with the Financial Therapy Association.

7. Cost

8. Summary

The CFT-I™ certificant, conferred by the Financial Therapy Association, is allowed to hold themselves out publicly as a Certified Financial Therapist-I™ (CFT-I™) when:

a. All CFT-I™ educational, experience, and competency training requirements are complete;

CFT-I™ COMPETENCY TRAINING REQUIREMENTS

Therapeutic Competencies

Financial Competencies

Financial Therapy Competencies

The Fundamentals of Therapy

The Fundamentals of Economics

Self of the Financial Therapist

Theories and Models of Therapeutic Intervention - I

The Basics of Behavioral Economics

Ethical Behavior and Standards of Practice in Financial Therapy

Theories and Models of Therapeutic Intervention - II

The Fundamentals of Financial Planning

Money and Relationships

Communication/General Counseling Skills - I

Money Management – I

Cash Flow and Net Worth

Evaluation of Financial Therapy Research

Communication/General Counseling Skills - II

Money Management – II

Credit and Debt Management

 

Knowledge of Mental Health Diagnoses

Identity Theft and Consumer Protections

Culture and Diversity

Basic Financial Analysis – I

Basic Financial Analysis – II


b. The FTA Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics adherence agreement is signed and submitted;

c. The applicant successfully passes the comprehensive CFT-I™ Certification exam;

d. The applicant receives confirmation of their completed certification status by the FTA Regulatory Committee.

 

Frequently Asked Questions about the CFT-I™


 

Why should I become Certified Financial Therapist™?

Financial therapy as a specific area of practice is currently unregulated in the United States. The purpose of this certification is to professionalize and adopt a standard of practice and code of ethics. This is a designation that can be incorporated into your existing practice as a niche or specialty.

 

What’s involved in becoming a Certified Financial Therapist™?

There are three planned levels of certification. Currently, the CFT-I™ is available, while Levels II and III will follow. To become a CFT-I™, there are several requirements that the FTA has established. Please see the Certification page at www.financialtherapyassociation.org/certification for specifics.

 

What is CFT-I™ certifying?

The CFT-I™ is certifying that you’ve gained a foundational level of competence within various financial, therapeutically-based, financial therapy-specific knowledge areas. The CFT-I™ certification supplements the work you do in your home discipline by providing additional knowledge and information, helping to enhance your conceptualization of clients and the issues they present in your home context. The CFT-I™ designation, once granted, does not certify an individual or group’s practice of Financial Therapy, merely a basic competency level.

 

Is there a fiduciary standard for a CFT-I™?

FTA believes that any Certified Financial Therapist™ at any level must operate in their clients’ best interest at all times. Mental health professionals follow an ethical standard of doing what is in a clients’ best interest. Financial professionals must follow a fiduciary standard and be able to meet the NAPFA and CFP® Board definitions of “fee-only” to acquire and use the CFT-I™ designation.

 

CFT-I™ and Beyond

Creating levels for the Certified Financial Therapist™ certification was a response to the complexity this developing field presents, as many entering education and learning of financial therapy come through a variety of paths and backgrounds.

 

  • Level I – Certifies that you have acquired a base level of knowledge of financial therapy to assist you within your home discipline, or from which to build upon by continuing your training in financial therapy. It also certifies that you have an adequate level of client-facing experience, which is important, as the financial therapy certification is practitioner-oriented.
  • Level II – Will focus on intermediate knowledge and skills, deepening one’s understanding of the competency domains, and integrating into practice the knowledge and skills acquired at Levels I and II. Level II will narrow in on application within the practitioner-client relationship.
  • Level III – Will focus on the most advanced knowledge, skills, and application in practice. This is a fully integrated professional who is cross-trained and/or licensed/certified in both the financial and therapeutic domains.

 

What must I do to earn the CFT-I™ certification?
CFT-I™ applicants are required to:

  • have a bachelor’s degree or higher in a financial field (e.g., financial planning, finance, consumer economics) OR a mental health related field (e.g., psychology, therapy/counseling, social work, human development) OR hold a bachelor’s degree in any other field, plus the CFP® OR AFC® designation, educational requirements will be considered met. Those who don’t meet these requirements may apply for special review by FTA’s Regulatory Committee.
  • complete FTA's educational video series, as well as self-study.
  • pass the CFT-I™ comprehensive examination
  • complete 500 hours of experience, 250 of which must be direct client-service hours.
  • submit a letter of reference.
  • submit an essay of how CFT-I™ education and financial therapy knowledge has impacted your thinking and/or work in their home discipline.

 

Are there considerations given if I have a financial therapy-specific degree or certificate?

Those who hold a financial therapy-specific degree or certificate will be eligible for a $150 discount, at this time. More to be announced upon completion of FTA’s university-partnership program.

 

Will I be able to connect with other students during the course?

This is a self-study program, so students will progress at their own pace. Our 2019 conference is a great opportunity for you to interact with other FTA members in addition to other CFT-I™ candidates and certificants.

 

Is the program flexible?

Yes, it is online and can be completed at your own pace.

 

How long will it take to earn my CFT-I™?

We anticipate it could take 3-6 months to feel prepared for the exam. We recommend spending additional time in content areas in which you are less comfortable with.

 

After I earn my CFT-I™, will there be required continuing education and annual dues requirements?

Yes, annual membership to FTA as well as continuing education units will be required.


I know this will be a US certification, but are there any plans in the future for this to become a global certification?

Yes, FTA is looking to make the certification available to an international audience.  

 

Will you offer a CFT-I™ exam prep?

Yes, an exam prep session will be held at the 2019 FTA Conference for attendees interested in sitting for the CFT-I™ exam. Stay tuned for dates and details.

 

What should I do if I require a "special review"?

As soon as the certification program launches, applicants will be able to submit for a special review via the CFT-I™ examination eligibility application process. Applications will be submitted online through the FTA website at www.financialtherapyassociation.org.

If you have additional questions, contact FTA Headquarters at [email protected].