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. Our goal is to have this level of the certification available in 2019.

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);
b. A Mental Health related field (e.g., psychology, therapy/counseling, social work, human development);

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;

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.  Registrants 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. The education video series is made available to CFT-I™ Candidates once approved as candidates and payment is submitted. 

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.

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. CFT-I™ Practitioners are required to submit 20 hours of continuing education each renewal cycle. Renewal cycles are 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. 

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;

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 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. 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, 20 hours are required every renewal cycle. Currently there are no annual due requirement for CFT-I™ Practitioners.

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

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