Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Study Type

Mixed methods


School for Social Work


Swearing-Psychological aspects, Psychotherapist and patient, Therapeutic alliance, Communication in psychology, Therapist profanity/swearing/cursing, Espressive language, Communication in individual therapy, Clients opinions on therapist's language, Therapeutic relationship


This thesis explores how clients perceive therapist swearing in the context of a therapeutic relationship. This was done via an exploratory, mixed methods research study. Individuals whose therapists had used swear words during their individual therapy were surveyed about their own personal swearing habits, their opinions of swearing and therapist swearing in general, their specific experiences and perceptions of their therapist swearing, as well as demographic information. The majority of the study’s respondents reported that their therapist’s use of swear words had helped their therapeutic relationship. While participants reported they were happy with the frequency and context of their therapist’s swearing, they also preferred that, in general, therapists swear in moderation. This survey serves as a starting point for further investigation regarding how the use of swearing affects therapeutic rapport and also addresses the research gap on this particular topic.




iii, 57 pages. M.S.W., Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Ma., 2016. Includes bibliographical references (pages 35-40)

Included in

Social Work Commons