Alternative Title

How do clinicians engage in dialogue about class with their clients?

Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Study Type



School for Social Work


Social classes, Psychotherapist and patient, Classism, Self-disclosure, Therapeutic alliance, Psychotherapy, Class, Social class, Socioeconomic status, Broach, Broaching, Identity, Alliance, Therapy dynamics


This exploratory qualitative study surveyed practicing clinicians about their experiences engaging in discussions about social class with their clients. There is little research on the topic of social class in the therapeutic setting broadly and on the topic of broaching social class specifically. As such, this research was an initial attempt to begin to fill this gap in the literature. Twelve mental health clinicians voluntarily participated in an anonymous online survey about their experiences and thoughts about engaging in dialogue about social class with their clients. Results included a pattern in the difference between which clients clinicians discussed social class with and which clients clinicians avoid discussions of social class with, who (clients or clinicians) initiates dialogue about social class and why, whose social class identities (clients and/or clinicians) are disclosed, and whether social class identity is viewed as relevant to therapy. While how, when, and why the participants addressed social class with their clients were complex and varied, these findings suggest that they are not consistently addressing social class with their clients in the therapeutic setting. Future research on clinicians’ and especially clients’ experiences of social class dynamics in therapy could be helpful for the helping professions.




iii, 78 pages. M.S.W., Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Ma. 2016. Includes bibliographical references (pages 62-68)

Included in

Social Work Commons