August 2012 Therapist Spotlight: Discussing Financial Therapy with Kristy Archuleta

Kristy ArchuletaDr. Kristy Archuleta

August 2012 Therapist Spotlight: Discussing Financial Therapy

Dr. Kristy Archuleta is an Assistant Professor in the Personal Financial Planning program in the School of Family Studies and Human Services at Kansas State University and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in the state of Kansas. Dr. Archuleta obtained a B.S. in Family Relations and Child Development from Oklahoma State University, a Master’s Degree and Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy, and a Certificate in Personal Financial Planning from Kansas State University.

Dr. Archuleta’ research interests and therapy work include integrating interpersonal and relational factors with financial counseling and planning. She is co-founder and co-director of the Institute of Personal Financial Planning Clinic where she conducts research and practices in the area of financial therapy. She is a co-founder and currently serves as a board member for the Financial Therapy Association and is co-editor of the Journal of Financial Therapy. In addition, Dr. Archuleta practices marriage and family therapy at Andrews & Associates, Inc., and co-founded Women Managing the Farm, a project focused on agriculture and women in Kansas and surrounding states.

What is financial therapy and how does a therapist learn more about it?

Financial therapy is conceptualized as the integration of cognitive, emotional, behavioral, relational, and economic aspects that promote financial health. You can learn more about it by going to the Financial Therapy Association website, www.financialtherapyassociation.org, liking the FTA Facebook page, and following the FTA on Twitter. In addition, you can read the Journal of Financial Therapy, which is an open access journal so it is free for anyone to read. The Journal publishes the latest research in financial therapy as well as professional profiles of practitioners and scholars in the area of financial therapy. The Journal is published two times per year and can be accessed by going to www.jftonline.org.

I hear that you are part of the financial therapy association, a new organization attempting to bridge the gap between finances and traditional therapeutic services. Could you explain to me further about this organization and how it is helping professionals?

The FTA is an organization that was founded in 2010. Its members include mental health professionals, financial service practitioners, financial coaches, educators, and scholars from both mental health and financial counseling and planning. It is a very diverse organization that promotes open dialogue among its members in order to provide better services to their clients.

How can therapists incorporate discussing finances into sessions with clients?

Incorporating finances into therapy sessions with clients can be quite difficult for therapists because therapists are often uncomfortable with the topic of finances because they don't understand their own finances very well and/or they have had very little training in the area of finances. Finances are often dealt like any other relationship or interpersonal problem in therapy. However, this can be problematic as there can be actual legal and financial consequences due to decisions made in financial therapy, but the therapist may have little training in finances not realize or understand the impact on the client(s)' quality of life. If finances are an issue that clients bring up in therapy, a therapist with basic training in personal finance could discuss financial goal setting, developing a net worth statement and budget. This helps paint a picture of the client’s financial situation. Using Solution Focused Therapy types of questions to emphasize clients' strengths and to motivate and help them move towards their goals can also be useful. In addition, using assessments that incorporate financial questions can help prompt the conversation. Assessment tools such as the Klontz Money Behaviors Inventory, Shared Goals and Values Scale, financial satisfaction, Dyadic Adjustment Scale, Financial Roles and Satisfaction scale, Financial Anxiety Scale to name a few. Many of these scales can be found in the Financial Planning and Scales book edited by Grable, Archuleta, & Nazarinia (2010)

What are signs that you need to refer a client to a financial expert?

If you are uncomfortable talking about finances, don't ignore this issue-refer to a financial counselor, financial coach or a financial planner. If the financial issue is beyond your scope of practice, then it is time to refer. Better than referring, is to find a financial professional who is willing to collaborate by either meeting together with you in session or to have ongoing consultation while both the financial professional and the therapist are working with the client.

What are some helpful resources for clients and therapists to brush up on financial knowledge?

There are many great resources to brush up on financial knowledge, reading scholarly Journals such as Journal of Financial Therapy, Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning, and Journal of Financial Planning, as well as popular reading like Money magazine. In addition, websites like Love Your Money, a tutorial designed for college students, is a great way to gain some basic financial knowledge. Other good websites include Yahoo Finance, nolo.com, and nefe.org to name a few. NOLO provides many books that are good resources as well.

How do you incorporate finances and therapy?

This is a complex question and there is no one correct way to incorporate finances into therapy. The first step is gain some knowledge and skills in personal finance. The next step is to figure out how finances can be integrated into your theoretical framework. For example, Ford, Baptist, and Archuleta published a paper the Ford Financial Empowerment model (see Journal of Financial Therapy) and I am currently testing Solution Focused Therapy techniques as applied to financial counseling. Klontz, Kahler, and Klontz have published several books, one of which is Facilitating Financial Health, which was written for financial and mental health professional trying to incorporate finances and therapy.