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What Is Financial Therapy? Discovering the Mechanisms and Aspects of an Emerging Field

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p> Very little research currently exists specifically on the topic of financial therapy. In this emerging field, it is important to lay the groundwork for future practice and study. The purpose of this study was to answer the question, “What are the mechanisms and aspects of financial therapy?” Using qualitative methods, eighteen members of the Financial Therapy Association were interviewed by members of the research team. The participants included six financial professionals, six mental health professions, and six researchers/educators all engaged in financial therapy. Six categories emerged from the analysis of data, including: (a) integration, (b) complexity, (c) help seeker issues, (d) helper issues, (e) process, and (f) research. The analysis resulted in a conceptual framework and ten theoretical assumptions of financial therapy. </p
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What is Financial !erapy? Discovering
Mechanisms and Aspects of an Emerging Field
Kristy L. Archuleta
Kansas State University
Emily A. Burr
Kansas State University
Anita K. Dale
Kansas State University
Anthony Canale
Kansas State University
Dan Danford
Kansas State University
See next page for additional authors
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What is Financial !erapy? Discovering Mechanisms and Aspects of an
Emerging Field
Authors
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Journal of Financial Therapy Volume 3, Issue 2 (2012)
ISSN: 1945-7774
DOI: 10.4148/jft.v3i2.1807
CC by 3.0 2012 Financial Therapy Association 57
What is Financial Therapy?
Discovering the Mechanisms and
Aspects of an Emerging Field
Kristy L. Archuleta, Ph.D.
Emily A. Burr, B.S.
Anita K. Dale, M.S.
Anthony Canale, M.B.A.
Dan Danford, M.B.A., CFP®
Erika Rasure, M.S., AFC®
Jeff Nelson, CFP®, CFA®
Kelley Williams, M.B.A.
Kurt Schindler, M.S., CFP®
Brett Coffman, M.B.A., CFP®
Ed Horwitz, M.B.A., CFP®, ChFC, CLU, CSA
Kansas State University
2012 Financial Therapy Association Outstanding Paper Award
Very little research currently exists specifically on the topic of financial therapy. In this
emerging field, it is important to lay the groundwork for future practice and study. The
purpose of this study was to answer the question, “What are the mechanisms and aspects of
financial therapy?” Using qualitative methods, eighteen members of the Financial Therapy
Association were interviewed by members of the research team. The participants included six
financial professionals, six mental health professions, and six researchers/educators all
engaged in financial therapy. Six categories emerged from the analysis of data, including: (a)
integration, (b) complexity, (c) help-seeker issues, (d) helper issues, (e) process, and (f)
research. The analysis resulted in a conceptual framework and ten theoretical assumptions of
financial therapy.
Keywords: financial therapy; Financial Therapy Association
Financial therapy is a rapidly growing area of research and practice. While literature
on financial therapy is scarce due to the infancy stage of this area of practice and study,
literature on mechanisms and aspects related to the concept of, but not specifically the
term financial therapy, are more readily available. The literature varies in the opinions and
What is Financial Therapy? Discovering the Mechanisms and Aspects of an Emerging Field
ISSN: 1945-7774
DOI: 10.4148/jft.v3i2.1807
CC by 3.0 2012 Financial Therapy Association 58
findings of how financial therapy or similar aspects can be and should be viewed. This
paper will outline: (a) the history of financial therapy, (b) literature related to the
conceptualization of financial therapy and current approaches to financial therapy, (c)
methodology and results of a qualitative study targeting the mechanisms and aspects of
financial therapy, and (d) a proposed conceptual framework of financial therapy.
History of Financial Therapy
The Financial Therapy Association (FTA) has its roots in creating a place where
mental health practitioners, financial practitioners, researchers, and educators can
collaborate and explore a common ground (FTA, 2010). In 2008, at the initial “Financial
Therapy Forum,” individuals from across the U.S. gathered to explore this vision and share
their personal insights on whether this concept should be further pursued. The results of
the forum led to additional exploration in which the FTA was established in 2009. Soon
after the FTA was founded, the Journal of Financial Therapy was launched to provide a
forum for scholars and practitioners to communicate with one another by sharing research,
theoretical pieces, and professional insights. Other monumental events for the FTA, as of
this writing, include hosting three annual professional conferences.
The purpose of FTA includes: (a) sharing a vision of financial therapy; (b) providing
a forum for researchers, practitioners, the media, and policymakers to share research and
practice methods and models of financial therapy; (c) promoting methods of training for
those involved in financial therapy; (d) informing public policy and practice management
standards as these relate to financial therapy; and (e) stimulating and disseminating
clinical, experimental, and survey research on financial therapy (FTA, 2012). One of the
missions of FTA, since its inception, has been to conceptualize what is meant by the term
financial therapy.” As part of this endeavor, the FTA Board of Directors chose to
conceptualize financial therapy broadly, believing that it is the “integration of cognitive,
emotional, behavioral, relational, and economic aspects that promote financial health”
(FTA, 2012).
Knowledge, Education, and Training
There is a great need for an understanding of what financial therapy means for
professionals in the financial and mental health fields, as well as its benefits to clients. A
lack of communication and understanding between the two fields has caused a deficiency
in openness to collaborate. This is partly because the education and training of
practitioners, educators, and researchers working in one field often lack an exposure of
knowledge and ideas from the opposite field, and vice versa. However, clients have
demonstrated a need for integrated services that address both mental health and financial
issues. For example, Aniol and Snyder (1997) found that couples appeared confused as to
what type of service they should seek when they encountered financial and relational
distress due to the complexities of the issues they were facing. Their study indicated that of
the couples seeking marital therapy, one-third conveyed difficulty related to their finances
and about one-third who sought financial counseling were also facing relationship issues.
Journal of Financial Therapy Volume 3, Issue 2 (2012)
ISSN: 1945-7774
DOI: 10.4148/jft.v3i2.1807
CC by 3.0 2012 Financial Therapy Association 59
There is no doubt that most mental health and financial professionals have
developed expertise in their own fields; however, it is the cross-over of issues that has
made providing effective services to some clients difficult and complex. For example,
researchers from the University of Georgia stated:
“Couple and family therapists have expertise in helping clients with relationship
issues while financial planners are experts in helping clients improve their financial
literacy and money management. However, both service providers share challenges
when client’s relationship and financial needs are intertwined and knotted. Couple
and family therapists are not trained to address client’s specific financial difficulties,
which can lead to missed opportunities for positive, relational change. Financial
planners are not trained to attend to emotional, relational difficulties and
dysfunctional communication patterns, which, in turn, can limit their success with
clients” (Kim, Gale, Goetz, & Bermudez, 2011, p. 230).
While many mental health and financial professionals lack cross-professional
training, it has become increasingly common that their clients expect them to be helpful in
areas that go beyond traditional bounds of training. Consider a study on the changing roles
of financial planners, in which 89% of the study’s participants admitted to having engaged
in counseling or coaching of their clients on topics that were not related to household
finance topics (Dubofsky & Sussman, 2009). In their study, Dubofsky and Sussman (2009)
showed 40% of respondents had not taken any courses related to counseling topics, 39%
had taken one or more courses, 6% had a related undergraduate degree, and 3% had a
related graduate degree. The results of their study suggest that financial planners may be
practicing in professional activities that are beyond their scope of expertise or engaging in
practices in which they have little to no training.
Durband, Britt, and Grable’s (2010) study of Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT)
programs’ views related to offering personal and family finance courses or training
demonstrates how cross-training in financial concepts is seldom seen as a primary topic of
importance in the training of MFT graduate students. Their study indicated that 38% of
students reported finances were rarely discussed in a practicum or supervision setting.
Fifteen percent said financial topics were never discussed, and 27% said these topics were
sometimes discussed. Their study showed that none of the programs that participated in
the study required a personal or family finance course. At the time of the study, only two
master’s degree programs, two doctoral programs, and one post-graduate program
specifically offered a personal or family finance course as part of the elective coursework
options students could take. Interestingly, over 60% of student participants reported being
open to taking a financial course because they saw it as a beneficial topic to help them
become more effective clinicians.
Unfortunately, there is little room for students to take electives in accredited MFT
programs due to the rigorous guidelines set forth by the field’s accrediting agency (i.e.,
COAMFTE). The findings from Durband et al.’s (2010) study do not appear to be
What is Financial Therapy? Discovering the Mechanisms and Aspects of an Emerging Field
ISSN: 1945-7774
DOI: 10.4148/jft.v3i2.1807
CC by 3.0 2012 Financial Therapy Association 60
uncommon among mental health training programs (e.g., marriage and family therapy,
psychology, social work), in general. Financial problems are often treated similarly to other
symptoms of negative behaviors, cognitions, emotions, or relationship problems, rather
than as a unique issue. However, treating finances like any other mental health problem is
concerning because therapists are generally inadequately equipped with the necessary
skills and knowledge to offer appropriate or accurate financial consultation, which could
potentially cause harm to mental health clients. As a suggestion for future training of
financial therapists, Maton, Maton, and Martin (2010) stated financial therapy would be
best provided by a person who has been trained in “action-oriented” approaches, such as
“cognitive therapy, cognitive-behavior therapy, behavior therapy, brief-therapy, solution-
focused therapy, and marriage/family therapy” (p. 66).
Approaches for Financial Therapy
Approaches to financial therapy vary, including differing forms of collaboration and
a single cross-trained practitioner. Varying strategies of collaborations between finance
and mental health professionals have been noted throughout the financial therapy
literature; however, there is little theoretical or empirical evidence that supports one
collaboration approach over another. The literature tends to highlight two main
collaboration strategies. The first involves two professionals in different fields (i.e., a
therapist and financial planner) working with a client simultaneously in the same session.
Kahler (2005) posed the notion that having clients meet with a financial planner and
therapist at the same time can be the most beneficial use of collaboration, offering clients
maximum support and assistance. In his proposed model, each professional uses their own
expertise in the room with the client; good boundaries must be in place so each
professional knows what their role is (and what it is not). The other model is based on two
professionals in different fields consulting with each other, but not meeting with the client
at the same time (Falconier & Epstein, 2011). In this model, a financial planner may work
closely with a therapist by regularly discussing the client’s case and progress with the
therapist.
As an alternative collaboration strategy, practitioners should have outside
professional resources readily available for those clients who need more directional
assistance from an expert in the field which the practitioner has limited knowledge about
in order to make referrals that are appropriate for the needs of the client (Aniol & Snyder;
Anthes & Lee, 2001; Britt et al.). Kinder and Galvan (2007) promoted the concept of having
a network of outside sources, such as therapists, in which they can refer clients to, as well
as continue working with the client themselves, so the client’s full needs can be met.
Services provided by a practitioner who is cross-trained in mental health and
finances is another approach to providing financial therapy. Gudmunson’s (2011) view
involves placing importance on creating training to help people become financial
therapists. He argues that new practice models need to be developed in order to
encompass the differing forms of credentialing.
Journal of Financial Therapy Volume 3, Issue 2 (2012)
ISSN: 1945-7774
DOI: 10.4148/jft.v3i2.1807
CC by 3.0 2012 Financial Therapy Association 61
Regardless of the approach, Kinder and Galvan (2007) and Britt, Grable, Goff, and
White (2008) indicated that it is important for financial professionals to know their
professional boundaries and be aware of clients who may need help from someone who
has expertise in areas that they do not. Britt et al. discussed the uncertainty therapists,
financial counselors, and planners face when presented with a client who is experiencing
issues outside of their training expertise. Aniol and Snyder (1997) suggested both financial
counselors and marital therapists should possess basic information from the other’s
discipline so they can more effectively help clients who present both relational and
financial issues.
Client-Counselor Relationship
One area of consensus across disciplines is the importance of the client-practitioner
relationship as a vital part of establishing a trusting environment in which the client can
feel comfortable sharing very personal details of their life. Lambert (1992) reported that
the therapeutic relationship between therapist and client was the most important factor,
besides extra-therapeutic change (i.e., changes that take place in the client’s life that are
beyond the therapists control), in clients’ ability to change. In the financial planning and
counseling literature, Maton and colleagues (2010) stated that a trusting relationship
between a therapist and client should be established before embarking on a discussion of
financial issues. An example of trust was demonstrated by Dubofsky and Sussman (2009)
who found that many financial planners have had clients who told them a secret they had
not previously shared with anyone else. As an alternative, trust can be formed when a
practitioner leaves the direction of the session up to the client. This approach allows the
client to feel a sense of control over what and when issues will be discussed. This helps
keep a client’s needs as the focus of the session (Kinder & Galvin, 2007).
Kinder and Galvin’s (2007) suggestion is similar to a proposal from Kim et al.’s
(2011) study of relational financial therapy, in which they demonstrated the importance of
a client-focused approach where clientsindividual needs and circumstances are taken into
account when developing goals. Maton et al. (2010) described financial therapists as being
attuned to clientsneeds and goals and able to help the client find ways they can reach their
objectives. Kinder and Galvin emphasized the importance of leaving space for clients to
process issues they are not ready to discuss and to make sure clients give consent before
moving to these tough issues. Utilizing a client-focused approach helps maintain a
comfortable environment for clients in which they feel in control.
Awareness of Cognition, Emotion, Behaviors, and Relationships
The literature points out several areas in which a financial therapist should act
cautiously when working with their clients, including cognitions, emotions, behaviors and
relationships. Falconier and Epstein (2011) stated the being aware of clientscognitions
related to their finances and exploring these cognitions over multiple sessions is important
to better understand underlying views and thoughts related to the person’s experiences
with money. They suggested this can be done by observing clients’ non-verbal cues, such as
What is Financial Therapy? Discovering the Mechanisms and Aspects of an Emerging Field
ISSN: 1945-7774
DOI: 10.4148/jft.v3i2.1807
CC by 3.0 2012 Financial Therapy Association 62
facial expressions or emotions, and how these expressions differ among multiple areas of
conversation. If a change in expression or emotion is evoked by a particular topic, this
triggering event should be further explored to fully understand what the client is
experiencing.
Portrayal of emotions is another aspect of financial therapy in the literature. Maton
et al. (2010) identified emotions as often being connected with finances, which Dubofsky
and Sussman’s (2009) study of financial planners supported. They found that 26% of
respondents reported dealing with a client becoming very emotional in a session, which led
to the rescheduling of that session. Kinder and Galvin (2007) discussed the importance of
being trained to deal with clients’ emotions surrounding money to reduce the likelihood
that a client will feel humiliated or self-conscious about becoming emotional in front of a
practitioner.
Behaviors can be a vital part of understanding why a client acts in one way or
another. Financial behaviors can be documented in an array of situations, such as
overspending, avoiding, or hoarding of money (Klontz, Kahler, & Klontz, 2008). Maton et al.
(2010) promoted the presence of behavioral changes for financial therapy clients as a way
to help clients reach their goals. They described how the therapist should be aware of
current behaviors and aid the client in working towards desired behaviors that can make
the financial plan more concrete. They also suggested financial therapy has the ability to
make positive changes in financial behaviors, which can give the client a sense of
accomplishment and motivation to maintain newly formed behaviors. They also proposed
financial therapy will not only help clients discover more about their finances, but also
themselves as people because they are changing their behavior.
From a relational standpoint, finances can be an area of heated arguments and
disagreements in couples (Kim et al., 2011). Papp, Cummings, and Goeke-Morey (2009)
found that couples’ fights about money were more intense, longer lasting, and more
frequent than arguments about other topics. Similarly, Dew and Dakin (2011) found
disagreements about financial issues often lead to intense arguments. Britt, Huston, and
Durband’s (2010) research suggested that insufficient communication between couples is a
bigger predictor of arguments about money than power or available resources. Falconier
and Epstein (2011) promoted the importance of practitioners’ awareness of how financial
issues can affect the couple and what their roles are around money. They also discussed the
practitioner’s duty to explore clients’ roles around money to see what roles are being
demonstrated currently, their standards of what the roles should look like, and how those
two may be different.
Complexities of Implementation
While there are a variety of thoughts and ideas that have been discussed in terms of
what financial therapy is and how it should be approached, the question of how to
overcome challenges of implementation remains unanswered. Maton and colleagues
(2010) bring to light some of the issues that likely will be faced by this emerging field of
Journal of Financial Therapy Volume 3, Issue 2 (2012)
ISSN: 1945-7774
DOI: 10.4148/jft.v3i2.1807
CC by 3.0 2012 Financial Therapy Association 63
financial therapy, such as a social stigma surrounding therapy, which may make some
clients feel uncomfortable. This stigma may lead them to avoid financial therapy because of
their preconceived notions as to what therapy in general means. They also mentioned some
people still find money as a forbidden topic and should be kept private. Therefore, it is an
issue that may be difficult for clients to initially open up about, or even seek out the help of
a financial therapist in the first place. This may be an obstacle in reaching individuals,
families, and couples who could benefit from the services financial therapy can provide.
With the complexities of merging mental health and financial fields, it is important to begin
understanding what financial therapy is and the current characteristics associated with it.
METHODOLOGY
The purpose of this study was to explore the mechanisms and aspects of financial
therapy with the desired outcome of identifying basic concepts that could be useful in
developing a conceptual framework of financial therapy. Because financial therapy is
practiced and studied by professionals from diverse disciplines, it is imperative that
financial therapists begin to understand the common practices, approaches, and concepts
currently in place to further enhance and establish the field. It is a common belief among
financial therapists that without a central theoretical lens, the field may not be able to
flourish and expand with respect and credibility by related disciplines. It will also hinder
the ability to establish ethical guidelines, nationally-recognized certification, and training
and education opportunities. This study is an initial attempt to understand those
commonalities that separate financial therapy from other areas of study and practice.
Members of the FTA were surveyed on topics, such as professional characteristics,
collaboration or referral models, etc. (see Archuleta et al. (2011) for more information). As
part of this survey, participants were asked if they would be interested in participating in
an in-depth interview about financial therapy. Of the 76 people who completed the original
survey, 48 volunteered to participate in the interview. Based on the respondents’
descriptions of their primary professional identification, they were placed in three groups
(i.e., financial professional, mental health professional, or researcher/educator). There
were 13 financial professionals, 12 mental health professionals, 17 researchers/educators,
and 6 with insufficient information about their professional identification. For each pool of
professionals, six were randomly selected to be interviewed, resulting in a total of 18
participants selected to be interviewed. Because of the diverse nature of the
conceptualization of financial therapy and the composition of FTA itself, this sampling
method ensured that each group of professionals was represented equally.
Each randomly selected participant was interviewed by one of three trained
interviewers who were members of the ‘Financial Therapy Qualitative Research Team’
(FTQRT), which was comprised of a cross-trained (i.e., trained in Marriage and Family
Therapy and Personal Financial Planning) faculty member, one Marriage and Family
Therapy M.S. graduate student, and nine Personal Financial Planning Ph.D. graduate
students from a university in the Midwest. Most of the team members worked or
previously worked full- or part-time in the financial services industry or in a mental health
What is Financial Therapy? Discovering the Mechanisms and Aspects of an Emerging Field
ISSN: 1945-7774
DOI: 10.4148/jft.v3i2.1807
CC by 3.0 2012 Financial Therapy Association 64
clinic. Six of the 18 interviews took place in person at an annual FTA conference; the
remaining interviews were conducted by phone. Interviews were in-depth and semi-
structured. The same questions were asked of each participant, but the interviewer was
allowed flexibility to use follow-up or probing questions related to the interviewee’s
responses and the same terminology as the interviewee in order to more fully relate to the
interviewee. Sample questions included: (a) How do you describe your profession and/or
the scope of services you provide in your professional work? (b) What does financial
therapy do? (c) What is your approach to working with clients? (d) What are future
challenges this area of practice or study will face?
Analysis
Once interviews were completed, they were transcribed by a member of the team,
checked for accuracy by another member of the team, and then coded collaboratively as a
team; codes were then entered into NVIVO, a qualitative software package. Each team
member read the interview transcription carefully and coded line by line the relevant
statements related to the major research question, “What are the mechanisms and aspects
of financial therapy?” The team met once per week to discuss the coding of each interview
and then discussed how codes should be collapsed, formulated categories and themes, and
postulated assumptions and hypotheses for an emerging conceptual framework.
Grounded theory methods were employed to guide the analysis of this study. The
purpose of grounded theory methods is to generate theory through coding procedures that
provide standardization and rigor. In grounded theory, building blocks of theory emerge
through the concepts generated during analysis (Strauss & Corbin, 1998; Patton, 2002) and
collection and data analysis occur simultaneously (Corbin & Strauss, 1990). However, in
this study, data collection occurred prior to analysis because many of the interviews took
place at the same time, which did not allow for data analysis to co-occur with data
collection.
Grounded theory employs three types of coding that are crucial in generating
theory: (a) open, (b) axial, and (c) selective. Open coding helps to gain new insights into the
data and allows for interpretation of the phenomena (Corbin & Strauss, 1990). Axial coding
refers to relating categories to their subcategories or linking categories at the level of
properties and dimensions (Corbin & Strauss; Strauss & Corbin, 1998). Selective coding
builds a story to connect the categories by unifying the categories around a central
category. This central category represents the main phenomenon of the study. Because this
study is currently in the initial stages of analysis, results from the open coding and axial
coding processes and major themes that appear to be important in this phase of the
analysis will be discussed. A first attempt at selective coding and the development of a
financial therapy conceptual framework is proposed. Further analysis and results will be
presented during the conference presentation.
Journal of Financial Therapy Volume 3, Issue 2 (2012)
ISSN: 1945-7774
DOI: 10.4148/jft.v3i2.1807
CC by 3.0 2012 Financial Therapy Association 65
Quality Checks
Several quality checks were performed during the design and analysis of the study.
First, three members of the FTQRT were trained to conduct interviews and interviewed all
participants. This allowed for consistency of the implementation of the semi-structured
interview process. Second, investigator triangulation was employed where multiple
investigators (i.e., FTQR Team) reviewed each transcript and then convened to discuss the
coding results (Patton, 2002). This allowed for multiple perspectives from a variety of
disciplines.
Third, most investigators were well-trained in their fields and had several years of
practical experience, allowing for increased credibility of the researchers (Patton, 2002).
On one hand, this level of practical experience may have created bias in the results of the
study due to the close connection to the professional lives of the participants. On the other
hand, the diversity of professional credentials and experience among the researchers
created a more objective approach to the analysis. Finally, rigor to the methodological
approach and intellect as described by Patton was adhered. Patton described not only the
importance of methodological rigor, but also the intellectual rigor, which refers to the
importance of doing one’s best to make sense of the data with professional integrity and
methodological competence.
RESULTS
The interview sample consisted of 50% males and 50% females. Age, education
level, and primary ancestry were measured using categorical variables. For age, the highest
percentage (47.6%) of the sample was over 55 years of age. A majority of the participants
reported having attained a Master’s degree (28.6%) or a Doctorate degree (33.1%) as their
highest education level and 100% of the sample reported their primary ancestry being
White. Average annual income was $128,833, ranging between $10,000 and $300,000. The
mean years the participants have been in their profession were 13.56 years, with a range of
2.5 to 39 years. Additionally, the study looked at the number of years participants have
been integrating financial therapy related aspects; the average was 11.53 years, ranging
between 2 and 35 years. Sample characteristics for the eighteen interviewees are shown in
Table 1.
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Table 1
Sample Characteristics
Sample Characteristic and Code
%/Mean
Range
Gender
Female
Male
50
50
Age
18-25
26-40
41-55
Over 55
0
9.5
28.6
47.6
Highest Education Level
High School
Associates
Bachelors
Masters
Doctorate
4.8
0
14.3
28.6
33.1
Primary Ancestry
White
Other
100
0
Annual Income
$128,833
$10,000$300,000
Years in Profession
13.56 years
2.5–39 years
Years of Integration
11.53 years
2–35 years
Results from the analysis of 18 interviewees engaged in financial therapy are
discussed in relation to the guiding research question, “What are the mechanisms and
aspects of financial therapy?” The analysis resulted in a conceptual framework, theoretical
assumptions, and hypotheses that are also described. In presenting the results, the
identities of the interviewees are kept confidential and are instead identified by their self-
described primary profession and an identification number assigned by the research team.
Six categories emerged from the data including: (a) integration, (b) complexity, (c) help-
seeker issues, (d) helper issues, (e) process, and (f) research. The following sections
describe each category and its sub-categories as obtained through open and axial coding
processes.
Integration
The central theme of financial therapy was integration. Although this theme was not
a surprise, the results confirm that integration is indeed the center phenomenon, occurring
in financial therapy where neurological, cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and relational
aspects are inseparable from finances. Participant 70, a financial professional, said,
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“It’s (i.e., financial therapy) a more holistic approach…it is integration and it takes
into account the well-being of the individual whose needs are addressed.”
Another example comes from Participant 100, a researcher/educator, who said,
“I think financial therapy kind of brings the realization or brings the idea forward
that today’s relationships all involve money and close personal relationships in
terms of romantic relationships, all involve money. So it’s an area we need to study
because the two, relationship and financial, are inseparable.”
Complexity
An interesting theme that surfaced during the coding and analysis process was the
complexity and challenges of conceptualizing and implementing financial therapy either
within respective disciplines or with the public. For example, Participant 50, a financial
professional said,
“There’s such high value to just having a space in which therapists and planners and
researchers can just talk and get to know one another… There’s such a gap in our
understandings, our perceptions, our beliefs…Let’s start getting a body of
knowledge together…let’s talk it out completely before. I really think that is an
extremely high value in this particular instance because there’s so much, it’s all so
complex and it’s merging two worlds, very complex worlds, and trying to find
something find something that combines both of them; it’s very complex.”
Researcher/educator 100 stated that establishing a professional identity can be confusing
for professional and consumer communities. This educator stated,
“…nobody, you know, apart from this financial therapy group, really knows what to
make of me…they’re not sure if you are a relationship researcher or are you a
consumer finance person.”
This same researcher alluded to the communication among diverse professions
complicating financial therapy when he stated,
“…I’ve seen it happen where two groups, both relationship therapists and financial
counselors, really don’t know how to communicate or work together.”
In summary, the multi-layers of complexity and challenges that face the financial
therapy field are not targeted to just one profession or discipline or one aspect of financial
therapy, but to all mechanisms and aspects of financial therapy.
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Help-Seeker Issues
Help-seeker issues can be described as presenting problems or goals that are
brought into the financial therapy process, awareness of a problematic financial issue or
behavior, or wanting to learn about how to better incorporate money into their lives. In
some cases, there are mental health problems or challenges (i.e., underlying issues) that are
impeding on a help-seeker’s ability to make sound financial decisions. Initially, the help-
seeker issues category was identified as “client issues,” but because of the diversity of the
professionals in the study who work in the area of financial therapy, the term “client”
seemed too narrow. Therefore, the clientwas replaced with the term “help-seeker.” A
major component of client issues that appeared central to achieving clients’ goals was
client readiness to change. For instance, financial professional 030 stated,
As an advisor, some of the indicators are, client comes in the office and says okay,
I’m ready to do this’...”
Mental health professional 10 stated,
“…the pattern that they’ve developed is what they’re familiar with. To do what
would be healthy and right for them is unfamiliar and scary. And, so to get them to
change or try to convince them to change isn’t going to work. It’s about how do we
help them create an emotional safety in a container to create the emotional shift
they so that they want to make it. But if I try to convince them, it just doesn’t work.”
In addition, financial professional 50 said,
“I think it’s just people who really can’t acknowledge the value of human
relationships. That’s sort of what I perceive my type A clients have a hard time
acknowledging. “I don’t need anybody. I can make this happen all by myself!” And
that’s a real challenge to get past. But the folks who are “I’m not sure what to do
here.” Ok, well let’s walk together for a while and maybe we’ll see something.”
Helper Issues
Helper issues, coined initially as “practitioner issues,” is comprised of a set of
subcategories, including roles and boundaries, and specialized training where helpers have
a duty to respect the boundaries and ethics of their own profession and other collaborating
professions and know when they are practicing beyond their scope or professional
abilities. Most of the interviewees stated that they were very conscious of their role and
careful not to cross boundaries where they were not appropriately trained.
Practicing appropriate boundaries was a topic of ethical concern for some of the
professionals. Mental health professional 80 commented,
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“I am very clear about the difference between the kind of information that an
accountant, a financial planner, and a bankruptcy lawyer would provide and the
kind of information that I would give to people. I have a verbal disclaimer that
differentiates the work that goes on in my office from financial advice that would
come from a financial professional.”
When discussing helper issues, financial professional 900 said “…I’ve learned at the
conferences I’ve gone to is that psychotherapists don’t have a lot training around finances
and at the same time, financial planners and advisors don’t have a lot of training around
interior money issues. I think a challenge is providing adequate training and I see a lot of
value in well-trained financial planners and financial therapists working as a team.”
Process
It appears that integration of the aspects and mechanisms of financial therapy is a
process with the desire to achieve a certain goal or outcome. In this study, process is
described as the interpersonal transactions between help-seeker and helper or
intrapersonal transactions that happen within a person that lead to anticipated outcomes
through assessment and implementation. Mental health practitioner 80 described financial
therapy as a process,
“Financial therapy is a process that helps an individual or couple become aware of
their relationship with money and how it is used or misused. Financial therapy also
helps the individual or couple develop a plan to address both their external financial
problems and their relationship with money.”
Educator 500 said,
“My view of financial therapy is that it’s part of the therapy process, to diagnose the
problem and then treat the problem and then follow up on the problem.”
In this study, process does not necessarily mean the steps needed to take in order to
achieve desired outcomes. Mental health professional 60 described process like this,
“To me financial therapy is a process in which you can engage in to deal with
difficult issues around money.”
Although this conceptualization of process is abstract, common events to help
clients achieve their goals appear to take place during client meetings. These stages seem
to be the development and maintenance of the help-seeker and helper relationship,
assessment, and implementation of interventions, tools, and approaches, which are
presented as sub-categories.
Help-seeker and Helper Relationship. The help-seeker and helper relationship
appears to be at the heart of the financial therapy process and instrumental in achieving
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clients’ goals. Like previous literature in the fields of mental health and financial planning
and counseling have reported, the relationship between help-seeker and helper must be
well-established, where a help-seeker can feel safe and comfortable and feel as though the
focus is on their needs and wants. Financial professional 40 described this client-focused
approach by saying,
“I’m very collaborative. I view it more as a partnership, it's relatively informal, I
typically try to meet people where they are when they walk in the door, so I don't
have…to force people into that model, which would be a lot easier for me but I didn’t
find it effective…I don't really have a one size fits all approach.
Assessment. Assessment is another important mechanism of the financial therapy
process. Assessment appears to be formal and informal and helps in determining what the
help seeker’s needs and wants are, establishing goals, and diagnosing problematic
behavior. As an example, educator 200 stated,
“I want to get demographic information about them. Why they are here, their
medical background, mental health issues. A little bit of family origin….Really, it’s
kind of their cognitive abilities to processing, their communications, sense of
safety…at times I may do a genogram if that seems relevant and useful to the case.”
Additionally, mental health practitioner 010 said assessment includes,
“…watching how the client actually interacts with money. What are the accents that
they bring to the table, where do they shine, and recognizing those? What are the
obstacles? What are the beliefs or scripts? What are the emotional triggers
associated with money that cause a person to create the patterns that they have
created.”
Implementation. Financial tools, therapeutic tools, comprehensive plans, and
education were originally four categories that were collapsed due to their common
meaning of “doing” something with/for the client. The type of implementation used by a
helper largely depends on the goal of the help-seeker; a few examples include prescribing
homework or exercises, developing a comprehensive plan, empathizing with the help-
seeker, and complimenting. The orientation and training of the professional determined
the type of approach, intervention, or tools that may be utilized, which may be broadly
defined as financial or therapeutic. Some were theoretically-driven, but most were,
primarily, behavioral, emotional, cognitive, relational, intuitive, and neurological in nature.
Behavioral or emotional approaches/intervention/tools tended to be used to create client
change. Cognitive approaches appeared to help a client become aware of personal
interactions or relationships with money, in addition to learning information or changing
how one perceives a situation. Relational approaches and interventions were used to create
harmonious interpersonal relationships. Some professionals described using intuition as a
way to guide what they did next or how they determined which interventions should be
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used with clients and how to implement them. Educator 300 described the challenge of
implementation by stating,
“The primary issues are loss of income, increase in debt load and so they have credit
issues. I have families that want to buy a home, but they know they have credit
issues and they want to take care of those before making that next big step. And
unfortunately some of them just need help on putting a spending plan together,
they've never used one and now they realize that they should have been using one
all along.”
Outcomes. The primary objective of financial therapy appears to be assisting help-
seekers in achieving some sort of outcome or goal. Interviewees expressed differences in
desired outcomes, but the common theme was, as one might expect, to work for the
common good of the help-seeker in achieving a goal that is mutually agreed upon to
improve their overall quality of life. Outcomes ranged from supporting help-seekers in
becoming aware of their relationship with money, creating behavior change or an
emotional shift, bettering their mental health, producing a final product like a
comprehensive financial plan, to improving quality of life. For example, financial
professional 040 summarized the outcome of financial therapy well by stating,
“They (clients) start making changes in their lifestyle that contribute to my
observation that they are improving their long-term life with its success in quality of
life and sustainability.”
Mental health professional 700 discussed some of the outcomes that should be looked for,
which include:
…healthy financial behaviors, the things that are sort of universally viewed as the
part of what a financially literate person does. So living within their means, having
funds set aside for emergencies, long-term safety, retirement, and those kinds of
things. We look for less conflict in relationships, more confidence, and people’s
sense of being financially competent. We look at a breaking of avoidance patterns
that may have built up over time and people who indicate that they are now
spending their money in a way that reflects their deepest needs and desires for their
life, instead of spending that happens because of emotional pain.
Additionally, financial professional 70 stated,
“It’s helping clients to overcome a barrier that they may not even know exists, but
that prevents them from leading a more fulfilling life.”
Research
Research is important to the development and sustainability of financial therapy at a
number of different levels and is called for not only by researchers/educators themselves,
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but also practitioners. Research topics that could be considered related to the mechanisms
and aspects of financial therapy include the effectiveness in integration of diverse
disciplines, help-seeker issues, helper issues, help-seeker and helper relationship, the
development of assessment instruments, effectiveness of interventions, tools, and
approaches. For example, educator/researcher 200 stated,
“I think research is always helpful to help us understand what do we mean by
financial therapy? You’ve already got different people saying here’s what it is…What
are maybe some of the boundaries? What are effective ways of sequencing the
layering of offering financial services and clinical services and therapy
services?...And then research about gender issues. Issues of race, culture, power, all
of those topics are relevant to this, too. And, you know, studying all of that as well.
Dealing with these issues of these economic times when people are really suffering
and struggling. Uh, how can we reach out to people who don’t have many resources,
but who could benefit from financial therapy?”
Mental health professional 400 described the challenge and importance of research by
stating,
“Getting the research done and getting it distributed in ways that can be meaningful.
You can’t be too technical for psychotherapists and you probably can’t be too
touchy/feely for the people in the world of finance. Making the bridges between
those two areas of concern, that’s a challenge… People have their money stories and
those stories are important. So making that bridge, which is I think what you guys
are up to, is just amazingly wonderful and I also think it’s full of challenges…I think
it’s a wide open field…Research would be helpful because money issues come up on
a constant basis. Counselors, on the whole, are not equipped, they haven’t done the
reading, they haven’t taken one single course in it…The implications are very broad.
When you said that, I just saw a whole curriculum that needs to be produced.”
Financial professional 50 alluded to the types of research that should be conducted and
could be helpful by saying,
“what modes of communication, like pictures, charts, stories, modes of
communication are most effective in helping clients to comprehend complex
concepts…They’re not just interesting statistics, but they’re people, and this stuff is
going to impact them humanely, individually. We can lose sight of that so easily.”
In terms of how financial therapy should be conducted, researcher/educator 200
stated that a topic of particular consideration was to research whether or not one person
could be a financial therapist, one that is doing both financial planning and therapy
simultaneously.
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Generating a Theoretical Framework of Financial Therapy
As a part of the analysis process, the research team generated a conceptual
framework, using results of the study to help explain the mechanisms and aspects of
financial therapy. Figure 1 illustrates the theoretical model that conceptualizes the
mechanisms and aspects of financial therapy. The central category appears to be the
concept of integration, where there is an intersection of money, interpersonal, and personal
issues. The model appears to be complex and multi-layered, where financial therapy joins
help-seekers and helpers to form a mutual relationship and enter into a process of
assessment and implementation using aspects of cognitive, behavioral, emotional,
relational, and financial to meet a goal or produce an outcome. Research should be
conducted to evaluate each area of this model and produce additional resources and tools
that are more conducive to the integration of financial therapy.
From the results and formalization of a theoretical conceptualization of financial
therapy, the researchers pose the following assumptions and hypotheses that could
potentially result in best practices for financial therapists:
1) Integration of cognition, behavior, emotion, relationship, and finances is central to
the mechanisms and aspects of financial therapy.
2) Money and intrapersonal and interpersonal aspects of one’s life are inseparable.
3) Within the financial therapy process, the help-seeker and helper relationship is
positively associated with help-seeker outcomes.
4) Financial therapy is complex.
5) Helpers must maintain appropriate boundaries and clear expectations and roles
with help-seekers, collaborators, and themselves.
6) Cross-discipline integration and collaboration is positively associated with help-
seeker outcomes.
7) Multiple implementation methods, approaches, and tools are associated with
positive help-seeker outcomes.
8) Assessment of help-seeker readiness is positively associated with help-seeker
outcomes.
9) Specialized training, education, and understanding of professional roles and
boundaries are necessary to implement a financial therapy process.
10) Research on the integration of aspects and processes of financial therapy will
inform helpers to enhance help-seeker outcomes.
DISCUSSION
The results of this study are instructive for the development of financial therapy as a
profession. Findings can help FTA members understand that the foundational mechanisms
and aspects of financial therapy are mostly congruent with the current conceptualization of
financial therapy“the integration of cognitive, behavioral, emotional, relational, and
economic aspects of financial health” (FTA, 2012). There is no question that financial
therapy looks at an individual, couple, or family’s financial situation from a holistic
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perspective, where all parts of the person are considered. However, there does appear to
be a debate among the interviewees in this study on the outcomes of financial therapy. Not
all interviewees understood the FTA’s conceptualization of financial health. In fact, it
appeared that the overall goal of financial therapy was to improve quality of life by
enhancing some aspect of it, rather than improving strictly financial health. A general
agreement appears to be that if, for example, one’s behavior can change or an emotional
shift can occur, one’s financial situation will improve in some way, which has an effect on
one’s quality of life. It may be of interest to reconsider the conceptualization of the outcome
of financial therapy and consider a broader term like quality of life. In addition, thinking of
the holistic nature of financial therapy, little emphasis has been placed on biological
concerns, which was brought to light in this study through the mention of neurology. It
might be of interest to explore biological and physiological aspects of financial therapy
since there are established associations between mental health and biology and physiology.
The results of this study also highlight assumptions and hypotheses that have been
formulated and have implications for the state of financial therapy. It is important for
practitioners and researchers to understand that financial therapy is multi-faceted and
there is no one right way to deliver interventions, tools, and approaches. However, like
previous researchers (e.g., Archuleta & Grable, 2010; Ford, Baptist, & Archuleta, 2011;
Archuleta et al., 2011) have noted, research should be conducted to test the effectiveness of
the approaches, interventions, and tools that are currently being employed so that clients
are ensured the best possible services. As noted in Figure 1, not only should research be
conducted at the implementation level, research should also be conducted on all aspects of
the financial therapy model. Similar to mental health and financial planning literature, the
help-seeker and helper relationship remains at the helm of financial therapy services.
Establishing a trusting, safe, and comfortable environment for the help-seeker is essential
to positive outcomes.
Implications
One might ask, “How can this research be useful to my own practice?The answer to
this question is important. This study helps lay the groundwork to form a common
language among financial therapists so that financial therapy practices and research can be
effectively communicated among financial therapy professionals and potential financial
therapy consumers. Although the professions represented in this study are traditionally
seen as distinctly different fields, the core message from this study is that many
commonalities exist. First, each works with clients with similar issues that are related to
money. Second, the primary outcome is to increase a person or family’s quality of life.
Third, and also mentioned previously, the helper and seeker-helper relationship is central
to positive outcomes, regardless of the implementation methods. Finally, ethical
boundaries are important; however, how to navigate the complexities of the various
professions and credentials’ ethical guidelines is difficult.
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Limitations
No study is without limitations and this study is no exception. First, this study uses
qualitative methods. Although the goal of qualitative research is not necessarily to provide
results that are generalizable, the limitation is that the results are not generalizable. There
is much to learn about the practices of financial therapy that are currently being employed
and effective ways to train future generations. Second, the sample size is small. Due to the
time intensiveness of this type of research, the sample was limited to eighteen. Finally,
grounded theory methods were employed. Although grounded theory data collection and
data analysis typically occur at the same time, an intentional decision was made to analyze
the data after the collection process was mostly completed due to the timing of the
interviews and meeting schedule of researchers.
Future Directions
There are many directions that future research can take. Because this is the first
study of its kind, additional research regarding the practices and approaches of financial
therapy is necessary. Exploring the biological and physiological aspects of money could be
of interest to practitioners and researchers/educators to further understand in the context
of financial therapy. Like mentioned in the results, research pertaining to the collaboration
of models or implementation of financial therapy by a single person trained in both areas is
critical. Is it possible for a cross-trained professional to effectively provide both financial
and therapeutic counsel? In addition, and not previously mentioned, studies that further
explore theoretical underpinnings will help catapult financial therapy into a realm of an
independent field.
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... These results further support the findings from previous studies, which indicate that experiencing stressors can be associated with mental health issues (Archuleta et al., 2012) and could affect the perception of one's well-being and satisfaction. Archuleta et al. (2012) suggested that interventions provided by clinically trained financial therapists could lead to more favorable outcomes and would likely improve life satisfaction. ...
... These results further support the findings from previous studies, which indicate that experiencing stressors can be associated with mental health issues (Archuleta et al., 2012) and could affect the perception of one's well-being and satisfaction. Archuleta et al. (2012) suggested that interventions provided by clinically trained financial therapists could lead to more favorable outcomes and would likely improve life satisfaction. From a practical standpoint, educating older adults about the positive relationships between receiving professional financial advice and life satisfaction can help reduce the psychological barriers to seeking financial advice or counseling for older adults who may otherwise be skeptical of seeking such help. ...
... From a practical standpoint, educating older adults about the positive relationships between receiving professional financial advice and life satisfaction can help reduce the psychological barriers to seeking financial advice or counseling for older adults who may otherwise be skeptical of seeking such help. Archuleta et al. (2012) also suggested a relational approach where therapists and financial planners can coach clients to understand their money scripts and ISSN: 1945-7774 CC by-NC 4.0 2021 Financial Therapy Association 70 relationship with money. The authors suggested applying these techniques in counseling therapy sessions to help improve the overall perception of their clients' well-being and satisfaction with life. ...
... However, the paucity of published research in this area over the last decade suggests financial training is still very limited or nonexistent. This unfortunate gap in MFT training may leave professionals in the field largely unprepared to address financial issues, management, and literacy that affect clients (Aniol & Snyder, 1997;Archuleta et al., 2012;Durband et al, 2010;Poduska & Allred, 1990;Rappleyea et al., 2014). This lack of training may lead to MFTs not asking about or addressing financial issues, or alternatively, treating financial concerns only as communication problems or symptoms of other issues rather than addressing them directly or focusing on them as a presenting problem (Archuleta et al., 2012;Durband et al., 2010;Kahler, 2010;Poduska & Allred, 1990;Shapiro, 2007). ...
... This unfortunate gap in MFT training may leave professionals in the field largely unprepared to address financial issues, management, and literacy that affect clients (Aniol & Snyder, 1997;Archuleta et al., 2012;Durband et al, 2010;Poduska & Allred, 1990;Rappleyea et al., 2014). This lack of training may lead to MFTs not asking about or addressing financial issues, or alternatively, treating financial concerns only as communication problems or symptoms of other issues rather than addressing them directly or focusing on them as a presenting problem (Archuleta et al., 2012;Durband et al., 2010;Kahler, 2010;Poduska & Allred, 1990;Shapiro, 2007). This is problematic and could potentially be an area of ethical vulnerability for the field if MFTs are not providing clients the most complete, thorough, and knowledgeable interventions or appropriate referrals to financial professionals (Aniol & Snyder, 1997;Archuleta et al., 2012;Poduska & Allred, 1990). ...
... This lack of training may lead to MFTs not asking about or addressing financial issues, or alternatively, treating financial concerns only as communication problems or symptoms of other issues rather than addressing them directly or focusing on them as a presenting problem (Archuleta et al., 2012;Durband et al., 2010;Kahler, 2010;Poduska & Allred, 1990;Shapiro, 2007). This is problematic and could potentially be an area of ethical vulnerability for the field if MFTs are not providing clients the most complete, thorough, and knowledgeable interventions or appropriate referrals to financial professionals (Aniol & Snyder, 1997;Archuleta et al., 2012;Poduska & Allred, 1990). ...
Article
Research is limited regarding the training marriage and family therapists (MFTs) receive in the area of financial problems couples and families experience. We surveyed 293 professional MFTs to gain information about their financial training, level of comfort addressing financial topics with clients, and level of confidence to successfully address financial concerns of clients. Results indicated the majority (61%) of therapists did not receive any financial training but reported feeling comfortable (46.1%) or very comfortable (22.2%) addressing financial issues, and somewhat confident (56.7%) or very confident (23.2%) they could successfully address client financial issues. Therapists who received some type of financial training were more confident and comfortable addressing client concerns than those who did not receive any training. Implications for the field of marriage and family therapy are discussed.
... On the other hand, financial therapy is a field that tries to identify the financial roots in other fields so that it can use financial techniques and other concepts related to the human mind (such as mental accounting, monetary disorders, moneygrams, etc.), Offer new horizons and solutions (Archuleta et al, 2012). ...
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Financial toxicity is a problem that endangers the individual and social health of human beings and imposes many costs on individuals and governments. Given that financial toxicity has so far been studied only in medical sciences and no financial solution has been identified for it, this study tries to investigate the possibility of using financial and accounting techniques to reduce financial toxicity among patients in order to Introduce and expand the use of financial and accounting techniques to take effective action in health accounting. The research method is a combination of grounded theory and structural equations method and theoretical sampling has been used in 2019 and 2020.Data collection sources were conducted through in-depth and semi-structured interviews, participatory and non-participatory observation, personal experiences, respondents' memories, existing literature, and the researcher's personal reflections. To evaluate the goodness of the model fit, In the qualitative part, three methods of peer-debriefing, member checking, and triangulation techniques, and in the quantitative part, Chi-square, GFI, CFI, and RMSEA indices were used to evaluate the structural equations model. The results show that the use of financial and accounting techniques (including budgeting, cost management, mental accounting and financial therapy) by financial therapists and financial advisors can be effective in reducing the rate of financial toxicity. This research is the first research that expands the dimensions of financial methods and techniques in financial toxicity.
... Recent evidence suggests financial hardship is positively associated with poor mental health [48], which in turn increases suicide risk [49]. The literature on financially focused interventions is somewhat limited [50], with little or no training provided to clinicians [48]. Financial therapy can be applied to enhance cognitive therapies through modifying and changing cognitions as well as monetary interactions [51]. ...
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Reasons for dying (RFD) are one of the most authentic factors illustrating the lived experience of suicidal individuals. However, the field has been criticized for inadequate evaluation of risk factors and suicidal symptoms, such as RFD, to develop more robust theoretical models and risk assessments. In this study, we aimed to critically examine RFD themes as predictors of suicidal symptoms to improve our understanding of the suicidal mind, test suicide theory validity and improve risk assessment. This cross-sectional mixed-method study included anonymous survey data (N = 713) with a subsample (n = 474; 77% female; age M = 31.48, SD = 13.53) who provided RFD. Participants were asked to write down five RFD (ranked 1 st to 5 th most important) and completed the Suicidal Affect-Behavior-Cognition Scale (SABCS). Thematic analysis revealed eight valid RFD themes—Negative Self-appraisal, Hopelessness, Desire to Escape, Escape Pain, Relationships, Loneliness, Financial Hardship, and Physical Health. Themes were quantified by rank and total endorsements of the theme. Hierarchical regression modelling, statistically controlling for demographics, showed all RFD themes, except Physical Health, were positive predictors of suicidality, accounting for 26% of variance in suicidal symptoms. Negative Self-appraisal was the strongest predictor. RFD differences were also found by gender, age and education. From these findings, we determined current suicide theories do not fully account for suicidal persons’ RFD. There is a pressing need for more critical review of current theories, as current theories only partially represent this key attribute of the suicidal mind, and none of the reviewed theories accurately reflected suicidal participants’ RFD. Clinical implications include integrating financial therapies into suicide prevention treatments and incorporating RFD into assessments and treatments. To aid research and risk assessment efforts, we propose a new RFD Index, with eight five-point response items.
... Nevertheless, it may be helpful for therapists to help the couples with whom they work to specifically apply these practices to financial conversations and money management. It has been noted that marriage and family therapists often tend to treat financial issues as general communication issues or as symptoms of other issues; however, more specific financial conversation and intervention is often needed to equip clients to successfully navigate their finances collaboratively (Archuleta et al. 2012;Durband et al. 2010;Kim et al. 2011;Poduska and Allred 1990). Marriage and family therapists who are willing to broach the topic of finances with their clients (Kahler 2010) may be able to help couples alleviate the power struggles, frustration, hostility, and difficulties that romantic partners often experience as a result of financial disagreements (Danes and Morgan 2004;Dew 2008;Dew and Dakin 2011;Grable et al. 2007) and thus promote more open dialogue between partners about spending practices. ...
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The focus of this exploratory study was to identify reasons why married individuals commit financial infidelity. Quantitative and qualitative methods were used to identify types of financial infidelity and other deceitful behaviors that occur in married relationships. This research also focused on establishing categories for conflict in the home and other secret information aside from financial infidelity. In addition to quantitative responses, a content analysis of open-ended survey questions was used to identify and code categories and themes in the written data (Strauss and Corbin in Basics of qualitative research: grounded theory procedures and techniques, Sage, Newbury Park 1990). Two primary categories emerged that identify why married individuals commit financial infidelity: avoiding an argument and spending on self. In addition to the 10 categories of financial conflict published in Jeanfreau et al. (J Financ Ther 9(1):1–20, 2018), two additional categories emerged from the qualitative data: other debt and recreational purchases. Three categories and ten themes of secret information included: gone somewhere (food and friends, routine events, adult time), spent time with someone (work friends, friends, exes/affair partners), and additional secrets (not keeping secrets, health related information, ending the relationship, information related to exes or affair partners). Aside from financial issues, participants reported four categories of issues that caused the most conflict: time together, communication, health related issues, and extended family problems. Finally, the majority of participants reported sharing financial decisions with his or her spouse, having joint bank accounts and sharing expenses, and paying bills collaboratively. Findings highlight the need for marriage and family therapists to address healthy communication practices regarding finances and money management.
... For example, Papp et al. (2009) noted that disagreements about money are more negative, longer lasting, and more recurrent than disagreements about other issues. The emergence of financial therapy recognizes this comorbidity and utilizes a therapeutic approach addressing both issues simultaneously (Archuleta et al. 2012). Therapists may consider helping couples to recognize how financial issues are related to other relational issues, including their marital interactions. ...
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The model of economic hardship (Conger et al. 1990) guided the current longitudinal study examining whether perceptions of relational aggression (love withdrawal/social sabotage) mediated the relationship between financial distress and marital quality concurrently (2009) and over 2 subsequent years (2010 & 2011). A modified dyadic longitudinal mediation model explored associations among 335 two-parent, heterosexual, married households following the recent economic recession. Data from three waves (2009, 2010, & 2011) of the Flourishing Families Project revealed that perceptions of social sabotage and love withdrawal partially mediated the relationships between both spouses’ financial distress and both spouses’ marital quality in 2009, but not in 2010 or 2011. Other findings, including indirect effects, and implications for research and practice are discussed.
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Study design: Epidemiological study based on cross-sectional data of a representative sample. Objective: To determine whether financial worries are associated with chronic spinal pain in the US adult population. Summary of background data: This study used data from the US 2015 National Health Interview Survey. The sample size was 33,672 and the study population is defined as aged 18 to 85. Methods: To account for the complex sampling design, the Taylor linearized variance estimation method was used. Spinal pain was defined in 2 ways: chronic low back pain AND neck pain, chronic low back pain AND/OR neck pain. Eight types of financial worries were assessed: paying monthly bills, maintaining standard of living, credit card payments, paying rent/mortgage/housing costs, medical costs for healthcare, money for retirement, medical costs of illness/accident, and paying for children's college. Results: Different types of financial worry were significantly associated with chronic spinal pain, controlling for demographic characteristics and economic status. These worries included: paying monthly bills (OR 2.5), maintaining standard of living (OR 2.5), credit card payments (OR 2.2), paying rent/mortgage/housing costs (OR 2.2), medical costs for healthcare (OR 2.2), money for retirement, (OR 2.3), medical costs of illness/accident (OR 2.2), and paying for children's college (OR 1.4). Conclusions: This study shows that financial worries were significantly associated with chronic spinal pain. Financial worries may be important to be taken into consideration by clinicians managing patients with spinal pain. More future research is needed to explore the association between financial worries and spinal pain. Level of evidence: 3.
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The current paper aims to foster new discussion on the complex, deleterious, and conflated relationship between psychological trauma and financial management processes. Trauma and financial distress are interconnected, affecting the cognitive, behavioral, emotional, and relational aspects of our lives. A case vignette is presented for financial therapists which utilizes an integrated, trauma-informed approach addressing the lasting impact of childhood trauma on financial management behaviors and the client's life story. Treatment modalities consider narrative financial therapy, four categories of sexual and financial shame, and four phases of trauma restoration. Ethical and practice implications are discussed.
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Clinton Gudmunson is an assistant professor in the department of Human Development and Family Studies at Iowa State University. Since entering his current position in 2010, he has worked closely with financial counselors to develop the research capacity of the ISU Financial Counseling Clinic www.hdfs.hs.iastate.edu/financial) beginning to analyze the data from the archives which extend back to 1986, developing innovative approaches for collecting information from incoming client-research participants, and perusing and receiving grants to develop and investigate theories pertaining to personal financial literacy and financial counseling. This work follows his ongoing work investigating adolescent money attitudes, families and work (including family businesses), and economic pressure in family life. He teaches courses in personal finance, family policy, and research methods. He is active in the Financial Therapy Association and the National Council on Family Relations as a researcher seeking to bring a family perspective towards understanding financial issues. This is a theme that is investigated in his most recent article on Family Financial Socialization, which is coauthored by Sharon Danes.
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The Financial Therapy Association (FTA) was established in 2010 to bring practitioners and researchers together to develop tools and techniques to address emotional, behavioral, relational, cognitive, and economic aspects of financial health. Ultimately, those interested in the new field of financial therapy are most interested in answering the following key questions: Why do people do what they do with money and how can practitioners better help their clients deal with the complexities of the volatile economy that places tremendous stress on individuals and families? Financial therapy is emerging as a unique field that links scholars, practitioners, and mental health professionals in ways that consider these and other important questions. FTA is especially unique because of its diverse and accomplished membership, which includes mental health and financial professionals, educators, and researchers. The purpose of this “Profile” is to highlight how experienced and established professionals from both the mental health and finance domains have joined together to build a new profession, and to provide benchmark information regarding how the practice of financial therapy is occurring in the United States and other countries.
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p> Recent studies have suggested that relative to other types of marital disagreement, financial disagreements are more problematic for couples. Using data from the National Survey of Families and Households (N = 3,861 couples), we tested whether different types of marital disagreements predicted self-reported marital conflict tactics. Considering the findings overall, financial disagreements were among the consistent top predictors of conflict tactics, including using heated arguments more frequently than calm discussion. Contrary to previous studies, however, disagreements over housework also predicted conflict tactics about as strongly as financial disagreements. Husbands’ reports of financial disagreements were more closely associated with conflict tactics than wives’ reports. </p
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The purpose of this paper is to introduce an integrative approach to working with clients experiencing problems related to financial disempowerment. The multi-phase model integrates three theoretically-driven psychotherapy approaches, including cognitive behavioral, narrative, and Virginia Satir’s experiential therapies, and financial counseling techniques to increase one’s sense of financial empowerment. A case study is included to demonstrate the applicability and effectiveness of the model.
Chapter
The purpose of this chapter is fourfold. First, the chapter defines what is generally meant when practitioners and researchers talk about financial planning and counseling as a field of study and practice. Second, the process and theoretical underpinnings of financial planning and counseling are discussed. Third, a review of the historical development of marriage and family therapy is presented. Last, a new emerging field of study, namely, financial therapy is introduced. Specifically, financial therapy is defined and reviewed. An overview of the history and theoretical development of financial therapy is also provided. The chapter concludes with a discussion on how assessment of tools and techniques can be useful to practitioners, researchers, clinicians, and educators in the field of financial therapy, and how assessment can help this new discipline find grounding and gain respect among already established fields.
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Executive Summary • Because of the depth of mutual trust, the sense of intimacy, and the encouragement of positive life changes that occur in the life planning relationship, many planners express concern that such an approach implies that they would somehow be taking on the role or functions of a psychotherapist. This article, adapted from the recently published book, Lighting the Torch: The Kinder Method™ of Life Planning, addresses those concerns. • Life planners aspire to assist their clients not only in envisioning, but actually creating, a future that will expand a sense of freedom in life and generate fulfillment. Psychotherapy, on the other hand, generally seeks to effect healing where life experiences in the past have led to disruption or trauma. • The reality is that planners are already working with clients on some of the most highly sensitive, emotional topics and situations that those clients will ever discuss with anyone throughout their lives. • Life planners need to explore their own relationship with money, discover their own deep goals, develop internal and external listening skills, and gain perspective. • Planners need to "prepare the container" for life planning by establishing boundaries, such as deciding whether to work with relatives and friends or socialize with clients. • Some clients or prospective clients may not be ready for life planning until they work with outside therapists on such deep-seated issues as alcoholism or gambling. • Issues where planners are more likely to draw on the wisdom of the therapy profession include working with resistance and recognizing "projections" by either you or the client. George Kinder, CFP®, is founder of the Kinder Institute of Life Planning. Susan Galvan is co-founder and CEO of the Kinder Institute of Life Planning. More information may be obtained at www.KinderInstitute.com. Life planning takes place within the container of a relationship of mutual trust between planner and client. Because it focuses on the values, dreams, and life purpose of the client, the relationship can generate a sense of intimacy that comes from a deep sharing of what matters most. There are other professional relationships that may also find their fullest and richest expression by forging a similar bond. What comes immediately to mind are the relationships between therapist and client, between spiritual leader and congregant, between physician and patient, between teacher and student. Depending on the individuals involved and the circumstances they are addressing through the professional encounter, a profound sense of mutual personal trust and caring may develop. It is this quality of relationship that encourages and supports—actually facilitates—positive life changes on behalf of the client, congregant, patient, or student. This condition of facilitative relationship, while characteristic of good psychotherapy, is not limited to or defined as that particular professional engagement. Yet many planners have expressed concern that bringing a life planning approach to their work with clients implies or suggests that they would somehow be taking on the role or functions of a psychotherapist, without any real knowledge, training, or skills for doing so.
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Although much has been written about how to help couples negotiate regarding different spending styles or risk tolerance levels, less has been said about ways in which therapists can assist couples to understand each other's experience of distress regarding financial issues and find constructive individual and dyadic ways to reduce the distress. Given the importance of this topic in today's unstable global and national economies, this article reviews empirical findings regarding the effects of financial strain on couples' relationships as well as the effectiveness of individual and dyadic coping strategies. The authors discuss options for intervening professionally with couples experiencing financial strain and provide assessment and treatment guidelines using stress theories and evidence-based cognitive-behavioral couple interventions.