Learning Center

Difficult Conversations Series

2.75 (4 votes)

In this series, designed especially by and for financial planners, FPA has partnered with the Financial Therapy Association to offer education that will help practitioners effectively work with clients through the most commonly identified life changing situations. The series focuses on three different emotional events, detailing researched therapeutic techniques and case studies that any financial planner can use immediately in their practice. 

  • Explain the unique financial planning needs that arise due to Alzheimer's Disease
  • Identify communication techniques for discussing estate planning and long term care while staying sensitive to potential emotions that may arise
  • Summarize the process financial planners can take clients through in order to build client self-efficacy and support clients in having positive experiences when discussing money with their adult children  
  • Define how to use motivational interviewing to help “stuck” clients find solutions to their own difficult situations 
  • Discover introductory skills to managing financial conflict between partners in session  
  • Discuss effects of financial infidelity on couple dynamics and its impact on the financial planning process

Megan McCoy, PhD, LMFT

Professor of Practice in Personal Finance Planning & Director of Personal Financial Planning Masters Program, Kansas State University

Megan McCoy, Ph.D., LMFT is faculty at Kansas State University where she teaches courses for the Financial Therapy Certificate Program. Her writing, focused on financial therapy, has been published in The Journal of Financial Therapy, The Journal of Financial Planning, The Journal of Financial Planning and Counseling,  and The Journal of Family Economic Issues. Dr. McCoy serves as secretary on the board of Financial Therapy Association. She is the guest editor for the Journal of Contemporary Family Therapy's upcoming special issue focused on financial therapy and the associate editor of profiles and book reviews for The Journal of Financial Therapy. Dr. McCoy has practiced financial therapy with clients in her private practice and alongside financial planners at the Aspire Clinic. She is currently developing a computerized version of narrative financial therapy with Morningstar and plans to run randomized control trials later this year.

Shelitha Smodic, CFP®

Wealth Adviser, Westwood Wealth Management

Shelitha Smodic, CFP® is a private wealth adviser at Westwood Wealth Management in Houston, Texas. Prior to joining Westwood, Smodic worked in supply chain strategy and design for the consumer products industry, including roles at Sysco Corporation, Coca-Cola Refreshments, and The Clorox Company. Smodic earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a dual concentration in supply chain management and international business from The University of Tennessee. She is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Personal Financial Planning from Kansas State University. Smodic is an active member of the Financial Planning Association of Houston where she serves as the Pro Bono Director.

Rick Kahler, CFP®

Distinguished Adjunct Professor, Golden Gate University

Rick Kahler is a practicing financial planner, and a pioneer in integrating financial planning and psychology. This year InvestmentNews awarded Rick their annual Icons and Innovators Award for his innovative work in financial therapy. In 2018, Rick received the Insiders Forum annual Iconoclast Award, again for his groundbreaking work in financial therapy. He is also a founding board member and Past-Chair of the Financial Therapy Association.

However, his recognitions are not limited to financial therapy. BusinessWeek named him one of the top 15 most experienced financial planners in the nation and Investopedia called him one of the top 100 most influential financial advisors. He is a Distinguished Adjunct Professor at Golden Gate University, a past winner of the Financial Planning Association’s Financial Frontiers Awards, and a past chairman of the South Dakota Investment Council, managing $6 billion. His work and research has been featured or cited in scores of periodicals and books, including ABC News, NBC, CNBC, Fox Business, The Wall Street Journal, The Times of London, The New York Times, USA Today, Money, Time, and Forbes. He is in his twenty-eighth year of writing a weekly column on personal finance that appears in several newspapers. He is a co-author of four books blending financial planning and therapy.

Sarah E. Swantner, CFP®

Financial Planner and Therapist, Kahler Financial Group

Sarah E. Swantner is a financial planner and therapist with Kahler Financial Group in Rapid City, South Dakota. She earned her master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling from South Dakota State University and is a CFP® Certificant. She earned her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Washington University in St. Louis and a master’s degree in theoretical and applied mechanics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Sarah completed her clinical mental health counseling internship in financial therapy. She continues the work of bringing financial therapy into a financial planning practice and is pursuing state licensure in professional counseling. She also serves on the Financial Therapy Association Board of Directors and chairs their Special Topics Webinar Committee.

Nathan Astle


Nate Astle is a passionate financial therapy enthusiast. He currently serves on the board of directors for the Financial Therapy Association and is the founder of Relational Money, a training company whose goal is to help financial planners engage with their clients in more meaningful ways. Relational Money's flagship course, Financial Therapy Skills 101, focuses on key evidence-based practices financial planners can use to help their clients reach both financial and well-being goals.

Nate hopes to continue to promote the field of financial therapy through continued research and trainings. He has published in both academic and news outlets including the Journal of Financial TherapyContemporary Family Therapy, CNBC, USAToday, TDAmeritrade, and more.



Difficult Conversations 1: Later-in-Life Planning
Open to view video.
Open to view video.
Exam: Later-in-Life Planning
5 Questions  |  2 attempts  |  4/5 points to pass
5 Questions  |  2 attempts  |  4/5 points to pass
Difficult Conversations 2: Encouraging (Not Enabling) Adult Children Towards Independence
Open to view video.
Open to view video.
Exam: Encouraging (Not Enabling) Adult Children Towards Independence
5 Questions  |  2 attempts  |  4/5 points to pass
5 Questions  |  2 attempts  |  4/5 points to pass
Difficult Conversations 3: Financial Infidelity
Open to view video.
Open to view video.
Exam: Financial Infidelity
5 Questions  |  2 attempts  |  4/5 points to pass
5 Questions  |  2 attempts  |  4/5 points to pass
Course Evaluation
7 Questions
Certificate of Completion
2.5 CFP CE credits  |  Certificate available
2.5 CFP CE credits  |  Certificate available