The Art Of Money For Therapists In Private Practice: Guest Expert Bari Tessler (video)

Got any issues around money? You will want to hear my conversation with Bari Tessler. If you DON’T have any issues around money, how did that happen?


As a therapist in private practice, you’ve taken on the challenge of earning a living by serving your clients. Bari has been a therapist for over 20 years, so she knows this challenge well.


Bari is a financial therapist, mentor coach, founder of The Art Of Money Program, and author of book The Art Of Money.


I’m one of the participants of her year-long, life-changing program. I read an advance copy of her book The Art Of Money, which hit shelves last week. I loved it, and I want you to read it.


Listen as Bari talks about

  • her unique method for helping people transform their money lives
  • what therapists in private practice struggle with around money and steps they (you) can take
  • how she shifted her business model to help more people and enjoy her life more
  • a few money tools that might change your life

Below the interview is a summary of some gems from our conversation and links to her awesome stuff.


Jump to the bottom of this post for links. 

The Art Of Money is a unique approach. 


After grad school, when that student loan came due, I decided I’m either going to run away and travel the world or I’m going to face this. If I’m going to face this, I have to imbue the process with all the qualities I love about life and that I bring to other aspects of my life.


I needed to apply all these psycho-spiritual practices I was using in other areas to money as well. I knew this process needed to have deeper meaning, sacredness, playfulness, beauty, and creativity.


I quickly realized I wasn’t the only one with a lack of financial education and that I wanted to not only study this myself, but I wanted to share it with my community. I saw that everyone, regardless of class, religion, or ethnic background was dealing with this lack of financial education. I was ready to create a methodology around money for me and for my community.


When I went out in the woods and asked what I was supposed to bring back, I got the 3 phases: money healing, money practices, and money maps. I’ve been teaching this method with the 3 phases for 15 years.


The Art Of Money is an unshaming, gentle and loving approach to having a relationship with money that is conscious, mature, on our own terms, and savvy.


I love traditional money management tools, but for me this is about having a relationship to money on a practical, emotional, spiritual and psychological level.


Other programs tell you exactly what you have to do with money and give you rules.


I am a rebel and don’t like to follow rules so I couldn’t create a program you had to follow one particular way.


Somatic tools are part of the foundation of this program. These tools teach you to listen to your body’s wisdom and intuition. We have so many feelings, reactions and sensations when it comes to money. We project so much onto money. We need tools to listen to our bodies around money.


Therapists in private practice are unique in relation to money


As therapists, we weren’t supposed to talk about or want or strive for money. This was confusing as a 20-something-year-old working in the field and making 11 dollars an hour!


We want to do good work and we deeply care. That’s what leads us to this work.


We also need a nice livelihood and good self-care if we are going to thrive as therapists for years and years.


We know our value and our worth. We know our gifts. We don’t know how to bring those gifts to the marketplace and create a savvy and successful business with them.


We need to learn how to bring our work to the marketplace and create a business model that works.


For me, I rebelled a bit. I chose not to be licensed. I had many many sessions with a supervisor discussing this decision. I already had a master's degree and a 150 page thesis. I decided not to jump through more hoops.


Group work is what I love. I also realized I could use group work to leverage my expertise make more money. I balanced that with my individual work.


Business models are about finding a way to balance our value with how we best serve people and with our need to create a sustainable and lucrative business.


I was local for 7 years in California.


Then I got online because I had my son right before my 40th bday and we had a difficult recovery. I decided I didn’t want to leave my house anymore for work, and I wanted to find a new way. I think we get stuck in business models and don’t see possibilities. There are a lot more options for us.


As therapists, we need to do our own work around money so that we sit with our clients and their money issues. We can get triggered in sessions by our clients’ money stories if we haven’t done our own healing.


As therapists, many of us think that money isn’t spiritual, or that money and bookkeeping are bad words. We need to integrate money and bookkeeping into our lives. We need to get comfortable with making a really good living.


The 3 phases of the art of money. 


3 levels are money healing, money practices and money maps.


Over 15 years, I’ve taught this in 10 and then 20 person groups, and then expanded. (Now the year long course has hundreds of participants). 


Phase One: Money Healing

The first phase is about knowing your story in the area of money. It’s knowing your current story around earning, spending, saving and giving, It’s knowing what’s working what’s not. It’s also going back to family of origin, seeing what was true what wasn’t, finding out where a lot of beliefs were created and where financial identity was created. It’s asking yourself “Is that identity still serving, or was that just to rebel?”


With your development around money, are you stuck in your teenager, toddler, or infant phase with money?  


In money healing, you grow that up and mature it. You practice forgiveness.


You have an opportunity to create money healing rituals. You bring unshaming to your entire money story and understand your patterns and nuances, and bring somatic tools to the whole process.


I don’t like to stay in money healing forever.


Phase Two: Money Practices

After money healing, some people are suddenly excited to set up a bookkeeping system and learn the language of money. You have the opportunity to set up a money self-care practice. This may be 5 minutes a day or 15 minutes every few days. You craft a money practice that works for you where you sit down and have money dates with yourself or with your honey.


That’s where we get into values and renaming financial categories.


We change “rent” and “mortgage” to “home” or “sanctuary” or “love shack.” We change “debt” to “my big life transition” or “my spiritual crisis” or “health crisis” or “transition from corporate world to starting my own private practice.” Give it the honor and respect it’s due based on what was happening in your life. For some people, this renaming practice helps them say “Oh, I can do this.” Everyone’s bookkeeping system is different based on who you are, what you’re doing, and what your life is. 


Phase Three: Money Maps

We look at what phase of life you’re in, your priorities, dreams and goals right now. I do this in 3 tiers. If we’re lucky enough to get a long life, there are ebbs and flows. Even in the creative entrepreneurial world, there’s this idea that  you’re supposed to always grow and expand and that’s what success looks like. That’s not true. We know in our bones and bodies that there are ebbs and flows and phases in every area of our life. This is true in your money life as well. I repeat that in my community over and over. Ask yourself what year you’re in. Are you in a growth year? Are you in a simplifying year? An expansion year?


People think they’re supposed to be making more saving more giving more every single year. That’s not how it goes. Life happens.


The first tier is bottom line basic needs, the second tier is comfortable lifestyle, and the 3rd is ultimate lifestyle. You can name them what you want. The numbers are different for everyone.


Some people start with first tier.  Define your bottom line basic needs.


What does "basic needs" mean to you right now? List out all the expenses and add numbers to them. Add it all up and that’s the total that you need to be making.


Then look at the comfortable tier. What do you add in there? More self-care? Pay down debt? Travel? What does comfortable feel like and look like? What do you imagine? What do the extra expenses go to? Add up that total.


Then the same thing with the ultimate lifestyle tier.


Some people need to stay on one tier and some want to know the next tier. I always want to know the next tier and the numbers for it.


I used to throw out my bank statements and I was terrified of the numbers. Then I finally got in there with lots of body check ins, dark chocolate and candle light and made it a fun and sacred space.


Eventually the numbers become neutral, you form a relationship with them, and they become allies to help you plan.


These 3 tiers are something I map out once a year and then check in every month. I ask: How am I doing? Am I on track? Off track? Every 6 months you might want to reevaluate your tiers.


This gives you something to strive for. Balance being in the present moment, feeling good and satiated, with striving for that next growth place.


I do one money map for my personal life and one for my business. They’re completely separate entities. At the beginning it was all merged. I was my business.


For me it didn’t change until I had a team. I brought on bookkeeping trainers and financial coaches under my umbrella and it was clear my business is a separate entity.


For therapists, we usually feel like our personal and business finances are one entity, but it could use some separation. Imagine doing a money map for your personal house and one for your business. They influence each other but should have different goals.

Dive in to the Art Of Money. 


Get the book. I’ve been wanting to write this book since day one. I read memoirs and fiction. It’s rare that I read non-fiction. I needed it to be filled with stories, my own stories and my community’s stories.


It’s 300 pages, and it’s filled with stories. It’s filled with so much of the methodology. People are curling up with it, earmarking it and writing  notes in it.


*Annie has read it and agrees with others that it is riveting and valuable. She’ll be recommending it to all of her clients.


Get the book here. is full of content. Every 2 weeks we put out a really solid deep article covering one of the phases, money healing, money practices money maps. I’m interviewing people all the time.


There’s a free little course there, The Art Of Money Pocket Map


The Art Of Money book tour is now, so come and see me live all summer and fall!


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