Business & Economy Society & Culture

UGA to host Financial Therapy Association conference

Athens, Ga. – Practitioners and academics representing the fields of financial planning and mental health providers, including certified financial planners, family therapists, psychologists, counselors and social workers, will gather for the second annual conference of the Financial Therapy Association, Sept. 11-13 at the Hotel Indigo and Classic Center in Athens.

FTA was formed two years ago after 30 individuals met in California and agreed there was a need for a group focused on the confluence of issues that arise around finances and relationships, according to Jerry Gale, associate professor of child and family development at the University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences. Gale and Joseph Goetz, FACS assistant professor of housing and consumer economics, are co-chairs of this year’s conference.

“The formation of the Financial Therapy Association was a loud acknowledgement that finances are intertwined in the health of relationships and physical health as well,” according to Goetz. “This is a holistic perception of financial wellness, in which it’s not just about the dollars, but about the other areas of clients’ lives.”

The conference will include more than 40 sessions and contain a mix of research presentations by faculty and graduate students, as well as treatment-based sessions by psychologists and financial planners who have years of practice working with clients.

“There have been individuals who have worked in this area for years, such as our opening speaker, Olivia Mellan, who has used what she calls ‘money harmony work’ with her clients,” said Gale. “Our goal is to identify these practitioners and learn from them; to identify both current and future research topics in the area of financial therapy; and to consider what it would mean to establish financial therapy as an academic discipline.”

Gale noted that with ongoing economic issues, including layoffs and increased housing foreclosures, there clearly is a need for professionals with the skills to help clients with relationship and financial issues. However, before a discipline such as financial therapy can be established, those interested in the field have to explore a variety of issues.

“We have to look at our priorities,” Goetz said. “For example, what is a good outcome for someone who has been a financial therapy client? In financial planning, you would generally think that a better financial portfolio would signal success, but what if that enhanced portfolio was accompanied by a couple divorcing?”

Goetz and Gale agreed that they would like to see a future where students pursuing degrees in financial planning take courses in relationship and family therapy. Likewise, they agree that students interested in counseling careers should have a base understanding of financial planning.

For more information on the Financial Therapy Association see

For more information on the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences, see