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Money and behaviour

Group counselling

A group-based program for strengthening financial skills


From until

Context and set-up

To achieve and maintain financial stability and independence, three prerequisites are indispensable: earning a decent income, possessing the correct financial skills, and demonstrating sound financial behavior. Hence, social workers face a significant challenge in enhancing clients' financial skills and cultivating prudent financial habits.

In a previous study on the structure and functionality of accredited debt mediation institutions (2011), we determined four crucial factors for success in competence-building financial counseling. Besides focusing on clients’ strengths, pursuing an integrated approach, paying attention to prevention and aftercare, the inclusion of group-oriented counseling was found to be important. The study also found that merely 16% of accredited debt mediation institutions provided group based financial programs in 2011.

Group based counseling programs provide a highly valuable supplement to individual financial counseling. The benefits of group based programs include enhancing participants’ social, economic, and cultural capital, whilst the organisations benefit from providing high-quality support with a more effective and efficient use of resources. In fact, group programs often saves costs and time.


This project devised an evidence-based methodology of group counselling aimed at improving budgeting and financial skills. We adopted an evidence-based and practice-based approach. The research project aimed to find an evidence-based methodology to tackle the urgent need for group-based programs for budgeting and debt assistance for families with an increased risk of over-indebtedness. 

Through an (inter)national literature review, we first identified key factors for high-quality and effective group counselling. We then evaluated these factors among social workers, (former) clients and people with experience in over-indebtness through focus group discussions. These findings formed the foundations for a protocol 'Because your money counts' outlining a group-based program for strengthening financial skills. In a pilot study this protocol was implemented in three PCSWs and evaluated via pre- and post-measurements.

Want to know more?  Read our article in the Journal of Consumer Affairs.

Group work makes a difference in debt
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Nele Peeters

Joined the team in 2012. Fascinated by financial well-being and budget and debt counselling. A headstrong go-getter and an eloquent speaker.