Date of Conferral







Jane Lyons


Social class may impact the ways people are perceived and treated by others. The social class attributions of therapists may influence the manner in which they conceptualize their clients' problems and their relationship with their clients. There is a gap in the literature concerning the link between therapists' social class attributions and their responses toward low socioeconomic status (SES) clients in actual clinical settings, which could impact the therapists' interaction with their clients and the treatment process. The purpose of this qualitative descriptive case study was to examine the links between therapists' social class attributions and their experiences with low SES clients in clinical settings. The rationale for this study was based on treatment exhibited by therapists towards their low SES clients as evidenced by their treatment plans and peer interactions. Guided by attribution theory, research questions inquired into the attributions of 10 purposefully chosen masters- and doctoral-level therapists concerning the issues of social class, their low SES clients, and treatment outcomes for those clients. Interview data were interpreted using a cross-case synthesis technique and content analysis. The participants related to the issue of poverty in the way it impacted them or the way it impacted their clients. Findings could contribute to social change by increasing awareness among therapists concerning the impact of poverty, reducing bias and misconceptions among therapists, improving training of students and therapists, and improving understanding among therapists of the way social class attributions could impact their work with low SES clients.