Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Psychotherapists-Economic conditions, Class consciousness, Cross-cultural counseling, Wealth-Psychological aspects, Rich people-Psychology, Psychotherapist and patient, Qualitative research, Quantitative research, Classism, Class, Privilege, Disparity between clinician and client resources, Clinicians with wealth, Social class consciousness


This exploratory/descriptive quantitative/qualitative study surveyed clinicians with wealth about their experiences working with clients who do not have wealth. While there is much research that examines the implications of race-privileged clinicians (i.e., white clinicians) when they work with clients who are race-oppressed (i.e., clients of color) there is very little research on parallel class-based dynamics when the clinician is of a more privileged socioeconomic class than the client. Thus, this research was an initial attempt to fill that gap in the literature. Fifty-four mental health clinicians with wealth voluntarily identified themselves to the researcher via a confidential online tool. Screened participants were invited to participate in an anonymous online survey about their experiences negotiating class within the clinical relationship; 33 completed the survey. Results included strategies that clinicians with wealth used with clients to address class-based tensions, strategies that clinicians with wealth used in supervision, areas of tension that clinicians with wealth regularly experience, reflections on the dominant emotive language expressed within the responses as a whole, and a call for further education about class dynamics throughout the field. These findings suggest that clinicians with wealth have complex and nuanced experiences of navigating their privileged class-status in the clinical context, but very few opportunities to reflect on or see their experiences mirrored by others. Future research on the impact of downward, upward, lateral and internalized classism could be helpful throughout the helping professions.




v, 120 pages. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, 2015. Includes bibliographical references (pages 95-104)