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‘Rarely discussed but always present’: Exploring therapists’ accounts of social class in therapy

McEvoy, Charlotte

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Authors

Charlotte McEvoy charlotte2.mcevoy@live.uwe.ac.uk



Abstract

This research examines therapists’ accounts of how social class operates within therapy and its impact on the therapeutic relationship. The topic of class in therapy has rarely been addressed in the counselling psychology literature, with only a few papers published on this topic (e.g. Balmforth, 2009; Chalifoux, 1996; Kaiser & Prieto, 2018; Thompson, Cole & Nitzarim, 2012; Trott & Reeves, 2018). This study aims to address this omission by exploring the accounts of eighty-seven practicing psychologists, counsellors and psychotherapists, from trainees to experienced practitioners, who completed an online qualitative survey about social class in therapy. Critical thematic analysis was used to analyse therapists’ accounts of their own social class status and class as a form of difference more broadly, their accounts of working therapeutically with class differences and their sense-making around the relationship between class and mental health. I identified oppositional sense-making in the data, where one (smaller) group of therapists located individuals’ mental health difficulties within their socio-political context and described class differences in therapy as something that cannot be transcended by the therapeutic relationship. Another (larger) group of therapists drew upon ‘oppression blind’ (Ferber, 2012) discourses that removed clients from their socio-political context and dismissed social class as an important factor in therapy. When it came to their own class background, most participants used rhetorical strategies to disavow a middle class status and distance themselves from middle class privilege. Implications for practice and recommendations for future research are discussed.

Thesis Type Thesis
APA6 Citation McEvoy, C. ‘Rarely discussed but always present’: Exploring therapists’ accounts of social class in therapy. (Thesis). University of the West of England. Retrieved from https://uwe-repository....ribe.com/output/1491043

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