Why does a trauma-informed approach to money matter?

written by Bari Tessler March 9, 2024

Hello my dear colleague,

When we do personal money work, or help clients do theirs, it involves a fair amount of digging into the past. 

Yes, we’re uncovering things like old stories about money, beliefs passed on to us by friends or family, or ways of interacting with money that no longer serve us.

But there are often harder emotions that surface. Emotions connected to traumatic events in our past.

The way we relate with money is so often tangled up with past trauma for so many people that I want to take a moment here and highlight something critically important:

The Art of Money method is trauma-informed. 

The phrase “trauma-informed” has become popular in recent years, and I want to explain what it means to me and why I’ve built it into my methodology, into the way I run my programs, and how I do financial therapy sessions with clients. 

Taking a trauma-informed approach to financial therapy is essential because over the last 23 years of doing this work, I’ve seen so many people realize that many of the big emotions they have around money are directly connected to traumatic events in their past.

Sometimes the trauma comes directly from hard financial phases. Other times the trauma can come from areas of life separate from the financial realm, and that trauma either gets triggered by money challenges, or manifests as an unhealthy relationship with money.

So, why is all of this trauma stuff important? It’s important for your work with clients, if you have a business where you work with clients, but that’s a deeper topic for another day.

For now, I want to focus on how my teachings and programs are trauma informed.

I’ve built the methods that are now the foundation of a trauma-informed approach right into the fabric of the practices I teach and the way I structure all of my live training.

This involves addressing safety, trust, peer support, collaboration, empowerment, and cultural and historical issues.

It involves creating guidelines and expectations for the community of program members to be aware of any money triggered trauma coming up in other members, and to create a supportive space if that happens. 

And it involves all of the somatic practices that I teach, which are, by default, trauma-informed practices.

Here’s the bottom line: We all have trauma. We all need practices to deal with the trauma when it comes up. I use somatic practices to help people work with the trauma when it comes up around money. 

Building these things into my approach to financial therapy, how I teach it, and how I do financial therapy sessions with clients was a natural step to take because of my training in somatic psychology for my Master’s degree at Naropa University. 

Every workshop, live program, and therapy session I’ve done since I began this work over 23 years ago has used trauma-informed approaches for creating a safe space to do money work. 

If you join us in the Mentor Program, you’ll experience what it’s like to be in a safe space like this first-hand. 

As somatic and trauma psychotherapist, Art of Money alumni, and Mentor Program guest mentor, Sonya Brewer puts it,

“It’s been amazing for me to work with Bari over the last decade.
Personally, being able to do this work in the Art of Money community helped transform the crippling anxiety, shame, and fear that I sometimes felt when making money decisions.
I’ve gone from chronically underearning to confidently earning a solid living with ease. My debt has come down and my credit has improved. The biggest gift has been feeling less anxious about money–even with big changes afoot like having a child and getting divorced.
Overall, I feel way more grounded and confident about my ability to take care of myself and my family financially. And, I have a solid money practice that I lean on to this day.
From the perspective of a therapist and a coach, The Art of Money method has deeply informed the way I hold my own clients when it comes to money. Bari’s modeling has also deeply informed how I have set up my own business, how I do marketing and how I think about my fees.
Additionally, Bari’s work is fundamentally trauma-informed money work. She has been doing “trauma-informed” way before it became popular. Back when I started with her, nobody was really saying that, and yet that’s exactly what Bari was doing, honoring the pace of the body, going really slow, and having a non-shaming approach.
I really do not have enough words to tell you how grateful I am for this powerful, gentle, deep approach to money work. I’m ecstatic that she’s now offering this mentorship program for other folks who want to learn financial therapy. I just can’t imagine a better teacher.” – Sonya Brewer, Somatic Therapist

Your full humanity is welcome here.

Our community’s profound need for a trauma-informed, mind-body-emotion financial therapy is what led me to create the Art of Money Mentor Program.

The next journey of this program is about to begin.

Is it finally time for you to get support for your own money healing process?

With my dearest wishes,

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