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Money Issues

A 2007 survey by the APA (American Psychological Association) found that money worries are a significant cause of stress for 74 percent of Americans, and financial disagreements often top the list of divorce-causing grievances. Psychologists are starting to address typical-if unhealthy-money attitudes and behavior. When counseling people for a financial issue, that issue never stands alone.

Understanding the psychological basis for financial behavior is essential if a lasting solution is to be achieved. Money has many symbolic meanings. For some, money equals love, and they lavish gifts on their spouse and children. Money is a blank screen on which we project whatever our issues are: love, power, sex, control, anxiety. Combine two people and their deeply help beliefs about money, and it's no wonder that finances spark so much relationship strife.

Therapy has helped people become aware of-- and change-- their underlying beliefs about money. Interestingly, in clinical interviews people will talk all about their sex lives more easily than how much money they make. This resistance is often fueled by money's symbolic meaning. People view money and IQ -- quite incorrectly -- as reasonable proxies for their worth as human beings.

- Adapted from Monitor On Psychology, APA, Jan 2008.