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. 

The CFT-I™ designation is for those wishing to develop more Financial Therapy skills to incorporate into their home discipline as well as those with the goal of practicing Financial Therapy as their primary discipline. All applicants are required to adhere to the FTA Practice Standards to be considered candidates for the CFT-I™ certification, including adhering to a Fiduciary Standard and avoiding any potential abuse of relationships. The FTA Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics includes acceptable forms of compensation, a requirement to avoid product sales, and various other standards of care. 

To learn more about and to purchase the Financial Therapy Education Video Series - Click Here.

To submit your application to become a  CFT-I™ Practitioner - Click Here

Requirements to become a CFT-I™ Practitioner

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

All candidates for the CFT-I™ certification must acquire the necessary competency in the Financial Therapy competency areas via FTA's educational video series, as well as additional self-study. Additionally, candidates for the CFT-I™ certification must acquire competency in the Financial and Mental Health competency areas through a process of self-study based on their own experience and competency level with those areas. The self-study process for the CFT-I™ certification begins prior to applicants being approved for candidacy status. Additionally, individuals may choose to purchase the FTA educational video series without entering into candidacy status. Individuals may begin the process of self study at any time by reviewing the FTA's CFT-I™ Resource Guide and the CFT-I™ Competency Training Outline and purchasing the FTA educational video series

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.
**Client contact hours can be gained from a practitioner's home discipline as well as the practice of Financial Therapy.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 from a supervisor, peer or client submitted on their behalf attesting to their fulfillment of the experience requirement, as well as 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. The exam will have a 2-hour time limit. CFT-I™ candidates are granted access to the exam once they have been approved as candidates and payment for the exam is received. 

5. Ethical Standards

Applicants must sign an agreement for adherence to the FTA Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics. This agreement includes adhering to a Fiduciary standard and avoiding all potential abuses of the Financial Therapist and client relationship for all CFT-I™candidates and CFT-I™ practitioners. The FTA Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics includes acceptable forms of compensation, a requirement to avoid product sales, and various other standards of care. 

6. Renewal & Continuing Education

Once certified, financial therapists must complete continuing education to maintain their certification. CFT-I™ Practitioners are required to submit 20 hours of continuing education each bi-annual period after initial certification. The initial renewal cycle is prorated based on when a practitioner earns their CFT-I™ designation. Continuing education hours must fulfill the following minimums: 8 hours in Financial Therapy (minimum of 2 hours in FTA Ethics), 6 hours in Finance, 6 hours in Mental Health. Hours can be submitted from various sources, including hours used for continuing education requirements for a practitioner's home discipline (i.e. CFP Board, AFCPE, AAMFT). Hours can also be earned from completing peer-reviewed research, publishing and attending educational events sponsored by FTA. 

In addition to the continuing education requirement, all CFT-I™ Practitioners are required to submit an annual renewal fee and re-affirmation of their adherence to the FTA Practice Standards. The renewal fee is structured in the following way:

FTA Member Non-FTA Member
$25 $100

 

7. Cost

CFT-I™ Pricing Schedule

Education Program 1 $500
Education Program 2 $150
Education Program 3 $350
   
Application Fee $50
Exam Fee $250
Certification Fee $50
   
Annual Renewal Fee (FTA member) $25
Annual Renewal Fee (Non-FTA member) $100
Does not include the cost of self-study materials (e.g. recommended books and articles)  
2017 Conference attendees receive discount based on 14 hours of education received at conference  
Graduates of Financial Therapy degree or certificate programs receive a $150 discount on the cost of the FTA Education Program  

 

 

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;

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.

Resources for Certification 

 

Frequently Asked Questions about CFT-I™ Certification


 

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.

 

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 toward the FTA education program. 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. 

 

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, 20 hours are required every renewal cycle and an annual renewal fee ($25 for FTA members, $100 for non-FTA members).


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.  At this time the certification is limited to a US audience.

 

Will you offer a CFT-I™ exam prep?

Yes, an exam prep session is held periodically throughout the year at various locations.

 

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].


 

Disclaimer of Liability:

Certification by the Financial Therapy Association (the “Association”) demonstrates that the individual holding such certification has met the application criteria, has completed the education requirements, and has passed the examination or examinations to receive such certification.  Certification is not a guarantee of the competence or ability of any individual practitioner, nor is it an endorsement of any practitioner.  It is the responsibility of the individual seeking treatment to independently determine if the therapy relationship or the treatment sought or received is appropriate and effective for the individual’s circumstances.

 

The Association disclaims all liability for any personal injury, property or other damages of any nature whatsoever, whether direct, indirect, incidental, special, exemplary, or consequential damages, however caused and on any theory of liability, including, but not limited to, contract, tort, or strict liability, arising in any way out of the acts or omissions of any person who has been certified by the Association.

 

If you have a complaint about the services or actions of an Association certificant, you may submit the pertinent information to the Disciplinary Committee via email at [email protected].  The sole responsibility of the Association will be to review the complaint and determine whether the complaint warrants further investigation or disciplinary action against the certificant.  Other than the above, the Association does not assume any responsibility for the actions of its certificants.

 

Disclaimer of Warranties and Liability of Educational and Examination Materials:

The educational and examination materials (the “Materials”) are intended to assist candidates in achieving the requirements for certification by the Financial Therapy Association (the “Association.”)  They are not intended to supplant any other educational or certification prerequisite other than the certifications conferred by the Association.  The user is solely responsible for his or her own use of the Materials.  Furthermore, the Materials may include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors.  While the materials are maintained and updated as necessary to reflect the most current information, the Association cannot warrant that the Materials will at all times reflect such information.  Changes may be made to the Materials at the discretion of the Association at any time and without notice.

 

The Association disclaims all liability for any personal injury, property or other damages of any nature whatsoever, whether direct, indirect, incidental, special, exemplary, or consequential damages, however caused and on any theory of liability, including, but not limited to, contract, tort, or strict liability, arising in any way out of the use of the Materials.

 

THE MATERIALS ARE PROVIDED ‘AS-IS’ AND WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, OR NON-INFRINGEMENT.