The increasing demand for couple and family therapists (CFT) in integrated health care settings requires CFTs to learn to effectively serve low-income families. Resilience literature suggests that building families’ resilience and social support directly impacts a family’s chances for socioeconomic mobility. Multi-family group therapy (MFGT) offers an effective vehicle for increasing resilience and social support. This dissertation examines the link between family resilience and poverty and presents an ecological, solution-focused, family resilience lens applied through a pilot MFGT program, Bouncing Forward Family (BFF) Groups, for low-income families. This dissertation includes two publishable papers, and the first focuses on the BFF groups inclusive of key principles, their application and recommendations for maximizing the role of CFTs in their work with low-income families. This dissertation also tests the BFF program’s ability to benefit low-income families when in public housing assistance programs in San Bernardino, CA. In the second publishable paper, using a treatment-treatment as usual, within subjects design, we examined the benefits of using a pilot MFGT to help low-income families achieve socioeconomic goals. Results confirmed that families within the MFGT completed their socioeconomic goal significantly more than the treatment as usual group. These families also showed positive improvements in self-esteem and family cohesion. The results of this study are promising and suggest that the inclusion of MFGT may be an effective addition to comprehensive programs geared towards increasing families’ socioeconomic mobility. This study highlights the innovative benefits of Multi-family Group Therapy (MFGT) with low-income families.

LLU Discipline

Marital and Family Therapy


School of Behavioral Health

First Advisor

Distelberg, Brian

Second Advisor

Huenergardt, Douglas

Third Advisor

Knudson-Martin, Carmen

Fourth Advisor

Moline, Mary

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Bouncing Forward Family Groups; Family Therapy; Psychotherapy; Group; Community Health Services

Subject - Local

Integrated health care settings; Multi-family group therapy; Family resilience; Socioeconomic mobility



Page Count


Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives