Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Study Type



School for Social Work


Alexithymia-Treatment, Psychotherapist-Attitudes, Men-Mental health, Men-Psychology, Empathy, Socialization, Sex role, Alexithymia, Human males, Therapist attitudes, Therapist characteristics, Treatment, Sex role attitudes, Psychology of men, Mentalization


The purpose of this exploratory, qualitative study was to gain a deeper understanding of how the gender role socialization of clinical social workers affects their experience of treating men with alexithymia. The study used two semi-structured, in-person interviews with six licensed independent clinical social workers to gather qualitative data about their attitudes, beliefs and experiences of gender role socialization, as well as their experience of treating men with alexithymia.

The findings suggest a clinician’s experience of struggling with their gender role schema may lead to increased empathy toward men with alexithymia. Personal struggle with gender role was a prominent theme in this study, with nearly all participants identifying a past or ongoing struggle to reconcile gender role schemas consisting of traits traditionally considered both masculine and feminine.

Results further suggest this struggle serves as the basis for participants’ understanding of issues faced by men with alexithymia and tailoring interventions to account for the needs and expectations of this population. In particular, this finding appeared particularly strong among male and LGBTQ respondents, who respectively draw on their personal struggle with gender role and adversity from having their sexuality challenged by the dominant culture. This study’s findings emphasize the importance of clinical social workers and students engaging in critical examination of their relationship to traditional gender roles.




iii, 71 pages. M.S.W., Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Ma., 2016. Includes bibliographical references (pages 58-60)

Included in

Social Work Commons