Considerations, Benefits and Cautions Integrating Systems Theory with Financial Therapy

  • Jerry GaleEmail author
  • Donald Bruce Ross
  • Michael G. ThomasJr.
  • Josh Boe
Original Paper


This paper presents the benefits and potential concerns of integrating financial counseling with systems therapy. Ethical and conceptual issues of cross-disciplinary collaboration are presented. Issues of social inequity and social determinants of health are highlighted to show the need for critical theory and knowledge of economic injustice in order to do cross disciplinary collaboration. Two models: one for cross disciplinary skills implementation and one for professional collaboration are presented. The paper closes with five recommendations for integrating financial therapy and systems theory.


Financial therapy Social justice Critical theory Social determinants of health Cross disciplinary Systems theory Cautions and benefits of interdisciplinary collaboration 



  1. Adamkovič, M., & Martončik, M. (2017). A review of consequences of poverty on economic decision-making: A hypothesized model of a cognitive mechanism. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 1784. Scholar
  2. Anderson, R. C., & Spiegelman, R. D. (1977). Tax policy and secondary material use. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 4, 68–82. Scholar
  3. Aponte, H. J. (1994). Bread & spirit: Therapy with the new poor: Diversity of race, culture, and values. New York: WW Norton & Co.Google Scholar
  4. Archuleta, K. L. (2013). Couples, money, and expectations: Negotiating financial management roles to increase relationship satisfaction. Marriage & Family Review, 49, 391–411. Scholar
  5. Archuleta, K. L., Grable, J. E., & Burr, E. (2015). Solution-focused financial therapy. In B. T. Klontz, S. L. Britt, & K. L. Archuleta (Eds.), Financial therapy: Theory, research, and practice (pp. 121–141). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  6. Archuleta, K. L., Mielitz, K. S., Jayne, D., & Le, V. (2017). Financial goal setting, financial anxiety, and solution-focused financial therapy (SFFT): A quasi-experimental outcome study. Contemporary Family Therapy. Scholar
  7. Auerswald, E. H. (1968). Interdisciplinary vs. ecological approach. Family Process, 7, 202–215. Scholar
  8. Auerswald, E. H. (1971). Families, change, and the ecological perspective. Family Process, 18, 263–280. Scholar
  9. Auerswald, E. H. (1974). Thinking about thinking in health and mental health. In G. Caplan (Ed.), American handbook of psychiatry (Vol. 2). New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  10. Auerswald, E. H. (1985). Thinking about thinking in family therapy. Family Process, 24, 1–12. Scholar
  11. Avis, J. M. (1988). Deepening awareness: A private study guide to feminism and family therapy. Journal of Psychotherapy & the Family, 3(4), 15–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bischoff, R. J., Hollist, C. S., Smith, C. W., & Flack, P. (2004). Addressing the mental health needs of the rural underserved: Findings from a multiple case study of a behavioral telehealth project. Contemporary Family Therapy, 26, 179–198. Scholar
  13. Bloch, D. A. (1983). Family systems medicine: The field and the journal. Family Systems Medicine, 1(1), 3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Boss, P. (1999). Ambiguous loss: Learning to live with unresolved grief (p. 5). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Carvalho, L. S., Meier, S., & Wang, S. W. (2016). Poverty and economic decision-making: Evidence from changes in financial resources at payday. American Economic Review, 106, 260–284. Scholar
  16. Chetty, R., & Hendren, N. (2018). The impacts of neighborhoods on intergenerational mobility I: Childhood exposure effects. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 133(3), 1107–1162. Scholar
  17. Choo, H. Y., & Ferree, M. M. (2010). Practicing intersectionality in sociological research: A critical analysis of inclusions, interactions, and institutions in the study of inequalities. Sociological Theory, 28, 129–149. Scholar
  18. Combs, G., & Freedman, J. (2012). Narrative, poststructuralism, and social justice: Current practices in narrative therapy. The Counseling Psychologist, 40, 1033–1060. Scholar
  19. Crenshaw, K. (1990). Mapping the margins: Intersectionality, identity politics, and violence against women of color. Stanford Law Review, 43, 1241–1300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Davenport, L. (2019). A new path: The role of systemic therapists in the era of environmental crisis. Family Therapy Magazine, July/August. 12–16.Google Scholar
  21. Davey, M. P., & Watson, M. F. (2008). Engaging African Americans in therapy: Integrating a public policy and family therapy perspective. Contemporary Family Therapy, 30, 31–47. Scholar
  22. Falconier, M. K., & Epstein, N. B. (2011). Couples experiencing financial strain: What we know and what we can do. Family Relations, 60(3), 303–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Food & Water Watch. (2016). The State of Public Water in the United States. Retrieved July 2019, from
  24. Ford, M. R., Ross, D. B., Grable, J., & DeGraff, A. (2019). Examining the role of financial therapy on relationship outcomes and help-seeking behavior. Contemporary Family Therapy. Retrieved from
  25. Gale, J., Goetz, J., & Britt, S. (2012). Ten considerations in the development of the financial therapy profession. Journal of Financial Therapy, 3, 1–13. Scholar
  26. Gardner, B. C., Burr, B. K., & Wiedower, S. E. (2006). Reconceptualizing strategic family therapy: Insights from a dynamic systems perspective. Contemporary Family Therapy, 28, 339–352. Scholar
  27. Goldner, V. (1985). Warning: Family therapy may be hazardous to your health. Family Therapy Networker, 9, 19–23.Google Scholar
  28. Goodrich, T. J., Rampage, C., Ellman, B., & Halstead, K. (1988). Feminist family therapy: A casebook. New York: WW Norton & Co.Google Scholar
  29. Goolishian, H. A., & Anderson, H. (1992). Strategy and intervention versus nonintervention: A matter of theory? Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 18, 5–15. Scholar
  30. Grable, J., McGill, S., & Britt, S. (2010). The Financial Therapy Association: A brief history. Journal of Financial Therapy, 1, 1–6. Scholar
  31. Green, R. (1985). Gender identity in childhood and later sexual orientation. American Journal of Psychiatry, 142, 339–341. Scholar
  32. Green-Pimentel, L., Goetz, J., Gale, J., Bermudez, M. (2009). An innovative collaboration between financial and relationship experts: Counselors’ perspectives and opportunities for Extension professionals. The Forum for Family and Consumer Issues (FFCI), 14(2).Google Scholar
  33. Grimes, M. E., & McElwain, A. D. (2008). Marriage and family therapy with low-income clients: Professional, ethical, and clinical issues. Contemporary Family Therapy, 30, 220–232. Scholar
  34. Hanna-Attisha, M., LaChance, J., Sadler, R. C., & Champney Schnepp, A. (2016). Elevated blood lead levels in children associated with the Flint drinking water crisis: a spatial analysis of risk and public health response. American Journal of Public Health, 106, 283–290. Scholar
  35. Hare-Mustin, R. T. (1978). A feminist approach to family therapy. Family Process, 17, 181–194. Scholar
  36. Hare-Mustin, R. T. (1994). Discourses in the mirrored room: A postmodern analysis of therapy. Family Process, 33, 19–35. Scholar
  37. Haushofer, J., & Fehr, E. (2014). On the psychology of poverty. Science, 344, 862–867. Scholar
  38. Hoffman, L. (1993). Exchanging voices: A collaborative approach to family therapy. London: Karnac Books.Google Scholar
  39. Imber-Black, E. (1993). Secrets in families and family therapy: An overview. New York: WW Norton & Co.Google Scholar
  40. Imber-Black, E., Roberts, J., & Whiting, R. A. (Eds.). (2003). Rituals in families & family therapy. New York: WW Norton & Company.Google Scholar
  41. Jensen, E. J., & Mendenhall, T. (2008). Call to action: Family therapy and rural mental health. Contemporary Family Therapy, 40, 309–317. Scholar
  42. Jones, C. P. (2000). Levels of racism: A theoretic framework and a gardener’s tale. American Journal of Public Health, 90, 1212–1215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Jones, R. K., & Lou, Y. (1999). The culture of poverty and African American culture: An empirical assessment. Sociological Perspectives, 42, 439–459. Scholar
  44. Jordan, L. S., & Seponski, D. M. (2018). Public participation: Moving beyond the four walls of therapy. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 44, 5–18. Scholar
  45. Justice, B., & Justice, R. (1979). The broken taboo: Sex in the family (pp. 168–200). New York: Human Sciences Press.Google Scholar
  46. Kaslow, F., & Patterson, T. (2006). Relational diagnosis: A retrospective synopsis. Contemporary Family Therapy, 28, 269–284. Scholar
  47. Kassabian, D., Huber, E., Cohen, E., & Giannarelli, L. (2017). Welfare rules databook: State TANF policies. Urban Institute. Retrieved June 2019, from
  48. Kerr, M. E., Bowen, M., & Kerr, M. E. (1988). Family evaluation. New York: WW Norton & Company.Google Scholar
  49. Kim, J. H., Gale, J., Goetz, J., & Bermudez, M. (2011). Relational financial therapy: An innovative and collaborative treatment approach. Journal of Contemporary Family Therapy, 33, 229–241. Scholar
  50. Kliman, J. (2015). Social class and the life cycle. In M. McGoldrick, B. Carter, & N. Garcia-Preto (Eds.), The expanding family life cycle: Individual, family and social perspectives. Boston: Pearson.Google Scholar
  51. Marmot, M. (2005). Social determinants of health inequalities. The Lancet, 36, 1099–1104. Scholar
  52. Marmot, M., & Wilkinson, R. G. (Eds.). (2005). Social determinants of health (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  53. McCoy, M. A., Ross, D. B., & Goetz, J. W. (2013). Narrative financial therapy: Integrating a financial planning approach with therapeutic theory. Journal of Financial Therapy, 4, 22–42. Scholar
  54. McDaniel, S. H., Hepworth, J., & Doherty, W. J. (1992). Medical family therapy: A biopsychosocial approach to families with health problems. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  55. McDowell, T., & Shelton, D. (2002). Valuing ideas of social justice in MFT curricula. Contemporary Family Therapy, 24, 313. Scholar
  56. McGoldrick, M., Almeida, R., Preto, N. G., Bibb, A., Sutton, C., Hudak, J., et al. (1999). Efforts to incorporate social justice perspectives into a family training program. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 25, 191–209. Scholar
  57. McNamee, S. J., & Miller, R. K. (2009). The meritocracy myth. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.Google Scholar
  58. Mirkin, M. P. (Ed.) (1990). The social and political contexts of family therapy. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.Google Scholar
  59. Mumford, D. J., & Weeks, G. R. (2003). The money genogram. Journal of Family Psychotherapy, 14, 33–44. Scholar
  60. Narayan, D. (2000). Voices of the poor: Can anyone hear us? World Bank.Google Scholar
  61. ODPHP. (2019). Social determinants of health. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Retrieved from
  62. O'Neill, B., Sorhaindo, B., Xiao, J. J., & Garman, E. T. (2005). Financially distressed consumers: Their financial practices, financial well-being, and health. Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning, 16(1), 73–87.Google Scholar
  63. Perry, A., Rothwell, J., & Harshbarger, D. (2018). The devaluation of assets in black neighborhoods: The case of residential property. Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings.Google Scholar
  64. Prochaska, J. O., & DiClemente, C. C. (1994). The transtheoretical approach: Crossing traditional boundaries of therapy. Homewood, IL: Krieger Pub Co.Google Scholar
  65. Rabin, C. (1989). Gender issues in the treatment of welfare couples: A feminist approach to marital therapy of the poort. Contemporary Family Therapy, 11, 169. Scholar
  66. Real, T. (1990). The therapeutic use of self in constructionist/systemic therapy. Family Process, 29, 255–272. Scholar
  67. Robinson, B. E. (2001). Workaholism and family functioning: A profile of familial relationships, psychological outcomes, and research considerations. Contemporary Family Therapy, 23, 123–135. Scholar
  68. Ross, B., Gale, J., & Goetz, J. (2016). Ethical issues and decision making in collaborative financial therapy. Journal of Financial Therapy, 7, 17–37. Scholar
  69. Stanley, D. A., Sokol-Hessner, P., Banaji, M. R., & Phelps, E. A. (2011). Implicit race attitudes predict trustworthiness judgments and economic trust decisions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108, 7710–7715. Scholar
  70. Sullivan, L., Meshcede, T., Dietrich, L., & Shapiro, T. (2015). The racial wealth gap. New York: Institute for Assets and Social Policy, Brandeis University, Demos.Google Scholar
  71. Thomas, M. L. (2006). The contributing factors of change in a therapeutic process. Contemporary Family Therapy, 28, 201–210. Scholar
  72. U.S. Census Bureau. (2016). American Community Survey. Retrieved June 2019, from
  73. Walsh, F. E. (Ed.). (1999). Spiritual resources in family therapy. New York: Guilford Publications.Google Scholar
  74. Weil, B. E. (2008). Financial infidelity: Seven steps to conquering the # 1 relationship wrecker. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  75. Weinstein, N., & Stone, D. N. (2018). Need depriving effects of financial insecurity: Implications for well-being and financial behaviors. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 147(10), 1503 Scholar
  76. White, N. R. (1978). Ethnicity, culture and cultural pluralism. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 1, 139–153. Scholar
  77. WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health, & World Health Organization. (2008). Closing the gap in a generation: Health equity through action on the social determinants of health: Commission on Social Determinants of Health final report. Geneva: World Health Organization.Google Scholar
  78. Williams, S. L., Ketring, S. A., & Salts, C. J. (2005). Premature termination as a function of intake data based on ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, and income. Contemporary Family Therapy, 27, 213–231. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Human Development and Family ScienceUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry, Adjunct FacultyUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  3. 3.Department of Family Sciences, Consumer Economics & Personal FinanceUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA
  4. 4.Department of Financial Planning, Housing, and Consumer EconomicsUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA

Personalised recommendations