Solution-Focused Financial Therapy

Request the full-text pdf of this article here: Solution-Focused Financial Therapy | Request PDF (

Published version: Solution-Focused Financial Therapy | SpringerLink

Authors: Kristy Archuleta, John Grable, & Emily Burr

Solution-focused therapy (SFT) is a clinically proven psychotherapeutic approach that is known to be an effective tool in helping people deal with a variety of issues. SFT is a pragmatic approach based on a theoretical perspective that utilizes helping techniques that focus on client strengths, skills, and attributes rather than past and current problems. This chapter provides an overview of SFT and then presents an adaption of SFT suited specifically for dealing with financial issues: Solution-focused financial therapy (SFFT). Applications for clinical and practitioner settings to help clients reduce financial stress and move towards goal accomplishment are discussed.

Being Different but Striving to Seem Normal

Full article: Being Different but Striving to Seem Normal: The Lived Experiences of People Aged 50+ with ADHD (

Dealing with work and personal finances
For informants that actually were employed, the text revealed ongoing struggles with achieving a functional work-situation, combined with a fear of being excluded from workplace groups. Inability to control impulses seemed to be a factor that caused a lot of social problems, both at work and in personal relationships. Failing to pay bills and their household expenses was especially difficult to handle because it had serious financial consequences. When deciding between insurance, phone carriers, and other service providers, informants found it difficult to understand terms, conditions, and prices. This often led to less favorable deals and agreements which in turn led to even worse financial outcomes including higher costs for subscriptions and fees.”

Trash river

This is one of my favorite illustrations of how important it is to match your solution to 1) your actual problem, and 2) your ecosystem. Is their problem that their ecosystem has variable rainfall and the river thus floods at times? No. Their problem is that there’s a landfill upriver that spreads trash downriver when it floods. They can’t change the rain, nor do they need to build the Hoover dam. They had to get creative — and they did.

I also love the excitement in these engineers’ faces as they watch their first attempt to solve the problem of the trash floating down the river when it floods. They deserve to celebrate after such a massive attempt to address this issue!

They are noticing the areas where trash gets through so that they can address those areas before the next flood season. Their next effort will capitalize on existing strengths and troubleshoot the weak spots. That’s the kind of approach that gets things done.

If you are finding that the “typical” or “ideal” solutions aren’t working for you — such as a detailed budget spreadsheet or a calendar booked out to the last 5-minute slot — maybe you should re-evaluate whether that solution matches your ecosystem and your problems. Do you have variable periods of inattention and hyperfocus? Do you find that at some times, such as when you’re stressed, you make impulsive decisions that wreck your best-laid plans? If you find yourself building picture-perfect plans again and again that never actually work in your real life (for more than two weeks), maybe you’re trying to build the Hoover dam when you should have built a flexible fence.

If this is you, what can you do? You can shift your focus from building an “ideal” plan to building a “harm-reduction” plan. Think about what the “trash” is that’s created during those times of flood. Is your “downriver trash” forgetting to pay bills or call friends back? Set up autopay or send a text explanation. You can even set texts to auto-send. Is your “downriver trash” that you begin to be late to work more often than not? Figure out what you can cut out of your morning routine. Just focus on what the most pressing and predictable trash-downriver issues are and try to reduce how much damage they do to your life.

  • Celebrate that you’re trying.
  • Be clear on your strengths.
  • Notice the areas you’ll troubleshoot next time.
  • And then try again.

You’ll have plenty of rainy seasons to work with.


“Understanding and Working with Your Clients with ADHD”
Thursday, August 3rd, from 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. ET

Here’s a link to the related blog article I wrote with a link to watch the webinar replay:

Join us for a presentation that will provide a basic understanding of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (prevalence, etiology, common symptoms) as well as current and emerging research regarding ADHD and financial well-being.

Hear how ADHD-associated impairments in executive functioning affect financial behavior, financial decision-making, and overall financial well-being, as well as how financial professionals can improve their effectiveness in working with clients with ADHD.

You will come away from this session with a clear framework for identifying and addressing unseen barriers to financial success experienced by clients with ADHD, research- and empirically-supported resources, and key tips for best practices for working with this population.