Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Study Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School for Social Work


Therapeutic alliance, Classism, Mental health-Social aspects, Social service-Sociological aspects, Oppression (Psychology), Psychotherapy-Social aspects, Social class, Psychotherapy, Social Work, Culture, Oppression, Social justice


This qualitative study was an exploration of the impact of classism in the therapeutic alliance, specifically from a power, privilege, and oppression framework, and with attention to participants’ salient intersecting identities. Twelve clinicians, who identified with working class backgrounds and who had engaged in therapy as both clinicians and clients, engaged in semistructured qualitative interviews. The findings indicated that classism was salient to participants’ intersectional subjectivities and to their experiences in the field. Significantly, participants all named experiences in which a systemic lack of attention to classism and/or social class identities led them to feel alienated and silenced as students, professionals, and clients. Participants linked their own classist experiences with stronger motivations to remain class conscious as therapists and to address class differences openly in order to strengthen their therapeutic alliances. Implications for future research, social work education, and clinical social work practice are discussed.




iii, 132 pages. Includes bibliographical references (pages 116-122)

Included in

Social Work Commons