School for Social Work
This study was undertaken to determine whether or not and if so, to what degree social workers are aware of their personal body awareness in sessions with clients. The corollary question was whether or not those with higher reported body awareness would have similar socio-demographic indicators, environmental factors, or clientele to each other. Based on current literature, it was hypothesized that social workers in general would report a low body awareness and those reporting a higher body awareness would have similar correlates of individual factors. Smith School for Social Work graduates and current students were solicited for participation in an online survey. After data collection, there were 310 participants. These clinicians were required to complete the personal body awareness scale, socio-demographic questions, with the option to complete three qualitative, written responses. The major findings are as follows: The vast majority of social workers reported both being aware of their bodies and bodily responses in assessment and practice with clients and of taking these factors into account in sessions. Also, there were few correlations between body awareness and individual factors, such as years of experience or gender. Only one significant finding emerged: clinicians who reported being non-heterosexual had a higher personal body awareness compared with their heterosexual colleagues. Clinicians also reported specific types of body awareness, such as sleepiness and thirst, more readily than others. Finally, the new Clinician's Body Awareness Scale had a strong internal reliability with a coefficient alpha of .87, indicating possible future use for this scale.
Clarke, Lauren Nancarrow, "Putting the body back in social work : how social workers experience and differ in levels of personal body awareness" (2007). Masters Thesis, Smith College, Northampton, MA.