It seems that no matter where we turn, the rising costs of
healthcare continue to be an issue for not only governmental agencies and the
healthcare profession in general, but is often overlooked (or given a cursory
glance at best) in regards to the toll this major stressor takes on individual
patients and their families. All of us can recall learning at some point the
‘golden trifecta’ of issues that bring people (couples and families especially)
into therapy; money, sex, and parenting. More than once I have worked with a
patient/couple/family whose main source of distress stemmed not only from the
disease and the associated physical and subsequent role changes, but also the terrifying
prospect of losing any hope of a financially secure future.
If MedFT’s emphasis
as a field (if it can be called/viewed as that) is about more complete care
through systemic conceptualization and collaboration, have we been neglecting discussion
about and collaboration with professionals whose expertise is in the area finance.
If so, how might we better incorporate these conversations as a fundamental
part of our clinical, academic, and research work?
This link is to a NY Times story detailing the
financial related distress many families face when coping with illness, as well
as the ramifications after the treatments and physician visits have ended.
The marriage and family therapy training program at the
University of Georgia has a unique clinic where MFTs work alongside accounting
and business graduate students to help couples/families negotiate the financial
stresses that often exacerbate and accompany the issues that initially bring
them into their clinic- please, any UGA folks reading this feel free to correct
me. Perhaps as we, as collaborative professionals (regardless of profession),
seek to develop training models around integration and collaboration, we should
turn a more watchful eye to explicitly including financial concerns in the
laundry list issues our patients and their families need assistance in
Dan Marlowe is the co-editor of the Growing MedFT Blog, and the Director of Applied Psychosocial Medicine for the Duke/Southern Regional AHEC Family Medicine Residency Program in Fayetteville, NC. He obtained his MS in Marriage and Family Therapy and PhD in Medical Family Therapy from East Carolina University in Greenville, NC.