Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


The purpose of this study is to explore the practice of clinical social workers utilizing exercise as an adjunct treatment to psychotherapy for major depression. A significant motivation in undertaking this study for the researcher was the limited attention to the effectiveness of exercise as an intervention in the treatment of depression by clinical social workers. While there is significant literature on the value of exercise in maintaining and improving physical and mental health of exercisers, there is a scarcity of material relating to the perspectives, experiences and practices of clinical social workers who are integrating exercise into treatment of depression. The primary goal of this descriptive study is to provide clinical social workers interested in exercise as an intervention with knowledge regarding experiences members of their profession have had using exercise doing so. Twelve participants, all Massachusetts clinical social workers of varied experience levels who introduce exercise into their work with depressed clients in a variety of treatment settings were interviewed for this study. This study explores the participants' observations about the psychological, physical and psychosocial benefits of exercise in the treatment of depression. Findings show participants' thoughts on the efficacy of exercise, the role of the therapeutic relationship and treatment planning in overcoming barriers and client resistance to exercise adherence as well as offering participants advice for social workers interested in harnessing the power of exercise as an intervention in promoting healing and life long mental and physical health for their depressed clients.


iii, 81 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2007. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 69-71).