After winning an unprecedented eight gold medals at the summer Olympics, swimmer Michael Phelps may earn as much as $50 million a year in endorsement deals. Of course, he wasn't headed for the poorhouse before: He's been collecting about $5 million a year in endorsements since the 2004 Olympics.
Still, on the heels of his record-breaking performance, Phelps has joined the rarified realm of the multi-millionaire. To ensure the emotions surrounding his newfound fortune are as smooth as his stroke, Phelps might consider consulting one of a new breed of professionals catering to the ultra-rich: wealth psychologists.
Wealth psychologists, also known as money psychologists or wealth counselors, help people like Phelps -- as well as the more monied mortals among us -- cope with emotional issues surrounding money. Wealthy individuals may need help identifying and controlling spending patterns. Some may have an extreme fear of losing their money, while others may put their desire to make money above all else, sacrificing relationships with family and friends.
Phelps, for example, might want to consult a specialist in one of wealth psychology's most popular diagnoses: "sudden wealth syndrome," or SWS. The Money, Meaning and Choices Institute in Kentfield, Calif., coined the term to describe the increased anxiety, moodiness and identity confusion often experienced by people who come into money, whether by winning the lottery, receiving an inheritance or striking it rich in business or sports. Wealth psychologists say they help individuals recognize and appreciate their windfalls, reconnect with themselves and understand how to manage and use their newfound fortune.