Date of Award

January 2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Counseling Psychology & Community Services

First Advisor

Cindy Juntunen

Abstract

Social class as a variable of culturally competent psychology remains a misunderstood and understudied phenomenon. This study was designed to explore how mental health providers' social class of origin and classist attitudes impact their beliefs and treatment of clients from different economic backgrounds. This was accomplished by exploring five domains across two vignettes that varied in SES indicators (Low-Income vs. Middle Class Vignette). The domains of study included classist beliefs, GAF scores with or without treatment over time, positive and negative stereotype endorsement, perceptions of the therapeutic relationship, and potential treatment modalities. Clinicians did not rate the vignettes differently in terms of stereotypes but rated the low-income client as having a lower GAF score both with and without treatment over time. Clinicians also endorsed the belief that they would like to work with the low-income client more and believed the low-income client would benefit more from therapy. Clinicians from upper class backgrounds tended to endorse more positive stereotypes about the low-income client and believed that said client would decompensate less without therapy. Finally, clinicians from lower class backgrounds tended to be more pessimistic about the middle class client in terms of GAF scores with treatment.

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