AFCPE® Membership Spotlight: 
Kristy Archuleta

The theme of the 2015 AFCPE Symposium is Building the Bridge from Research to Practice. Kristy Archuleta is a great example of how each member of AFCPE plays an important role in forming that bridge. As a longtime member of AFCPE, co-author of the 2014 AFCPE Research Journal Article of the Year and currently the President of the Financial Therapy Association (FTA), Dr. Archuleta will attend this year’s AFCPE Symposium as a presenter. Along with Joe Goetz, AFC®, she is leading the FTA pre-symposium, which will be held on November 17. Read on to learn more about financial therapy, the FTA pre-symposium and your fellow member, Kristy Archuleta.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your path into the field of Financial Therapy?

I have always had a passion for helping others, but my interest in financial therapy began when I was an undergraduate student at Oklahoma State University (OSU). As a junior majoring in family relations and child development with an intended career track towards becoming a marriage and family therapist, I began taking business courses as part of a minor in business management. I liked the material I was learning and almost changed my major, but then realized that it would take several more years to graduate. During that time, the Governor of Oklahoma’s marriage initiative encouraged OSU, especially in the College of Human Sciences, to bring to campus several speakers on the topic of marriage. After attending a lecture by Les and Leslie Parrott, I began to recognize that money was a major issue in marriage and that I could pursue both of my interests by blending marriage and family therapy and money together.

As a graduate student in Marriage and Family Therapy at Kansas State University, I was able to focus my training and coursework around money related issues and personal finance. Now, as an Associate Professor in Personal Financial Planning and the coordinator of our new graduate certificate in Financial Therapy, I have been able to study and practice the interplay of interpersonal and intrapersonal aspects that drive personal finance decision-making and behaviors. In addition, I study how practitioners can work more effectively with their clients.

We are thrilled to have FTA host a pre-conference prior to the 2015 AFCPE Symposium! Tell us a little about the program that you and your fellow presenter, Joe Goetz, AFC® have planned.

Hosting a pre-conference prior to AFCPE is an exciting endeavor for FTA too! Dr. Joe Goetz, from the University of Georgia, and I will offer an interactive program to help practitioners and educators discover how Cognitive-Behavioral and Solution-Focused Therapy models can be used to work with money related issues. This unique workshop is aimed to help both mental health and financial professionals to work with America’s number one stressor: Money! We will be teaching core principles and therapeutic interventions to help clients change maladaptive financial behaviors. We are really excited about this opportunity and we promise you do not want to miss it!

As President of FTA and a member of AFCPE, where do you see the synergy and value between the work of financial therapists and financial counselors? How can we work together, and learn from one another, to enhance the work we are doing in the field?

Collaboration between FTA and AFCPE is ideal as there are many commonalities between the two memberships. First, AFCPE and FTA differentiate themselves from other professional organizations because they are made up of both scholars and practitioners. And practitioners and scholars within each organization actually communicate with each other! This aspect creates dynamic synergies between the two associations as members can be informed by scholars and practitioners from both associations because they recognize common issues in practice that need to be researched. Second, FTA is comprised of mental health professionals (e.g., marriage and family therapists, psychologists, social workers, professional counselors, etc.) and financial professionals (e.g., financial planners, financial counselors, financial educators, etc.). AFCPE provides great training in understanding consumer protection and financial fundamentals which are areas that many of our mental health therapists, in particular, are craving more training. Likewise, AFCPE’s members can benefit from partnering with our members who address the “soft skills” of money decisions and planning to help clients meet their financial goals.

As an educators, therapist and researcher, what do you believe to be the most pressing issue for financial therapy research and focus?

I believe that using theoretically based therapeutic models to understand and work with our clients is crucial. I’m sure eyes rolled at the mention of the word “theoretical.” However, theory is really important not only in research, but in practice. In practice, theory gives us a lens to view the world in which our clients live. Theory helps to explain problems, behaviors, relationships, etc. that clients are experiencing. Finally, theoretically based practice models have interventions that align with a particular theoretical lens, making practitioners’ work with clients more coherent and consistent. It also gives educators, like me, a way to train students how to actually work with clients that goes beyond basic communication skills. For most financial professionals, the aim is to help clients reach their goals. Often times, clients have to change some aspect of their behavior in order to reach their goals, whether it be spend less, make more, to increase financial confidence, or just be more motivated. These are all aspects of changing clients’ behavior and we need practice models that help us know how to change behavior and how to work more effectively with our clients. Unfortunately, this is an area that has largely been untapped in regards to research related to working with clients and money. 

You’ve been an AFCPE Member for 10 years. What do you find most beneficial about being a member of AFCPE?

My first reaction to this question is that I can’t believe I’ve been a member for 10 years! Now, that I am past this shock, I believe that one of the major benefits of AFCPE membership are the colleagues that I met who have become friends and mentors. I joined AFCPE as a graduate student because John Grable told me I should. Since then, I found AFCPE to be organization where I feel at home with like-minded people. When I attend AFCPE events, I am re-energized, new ideas are stimulated, and because I am among friends, I feel supported in my career. AFCPE’s focus to bring together scholars and practitioners has been helpful to me as I see myself as both.

August 27, 2015

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