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Title: The class dynamic in the therapeutic relationship
Author: Isaac, Miriam Kendrick
ISNI:       0000 0004 2733 4764
Awarding Body: University of Leicester
Current Institution: University of Leicester
Date of Award: 2012
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In counselling and psychotherapy, the issue of class is neglected both theoretically and in practice. This thesis aims to address this anomaly by focusing on the class dynamic in the therapeutic relationship. First, the study offers a theoretical exploration of the three major concepts of class. Second, the empirical research aims to highlight how the working class research participants perceive therapists and counselling, and how the counsellor participants perceive class and manage class difference. I argue that class is complex and multidimensional. Therefore, no one theory about class offers a complete account. With this in mind three theoretical concepts are explored demonstrating their potential usefulness to the provision and practice of therapy. The position taken is that two of these concepts, class as a relational phenomenon, and class maintained and reproduced through habitus, capital and dispositions of the therapist and the client provide a means by which the class dynamic can be analysed, with consequences for the therapeutic transference. The empirical inquiry constitutes a theory led, constructionist, thematic focus group analysis, cross referenced to individual counsellor interviews. The data was gathered from six focus groups situated in Sure Start Children Centres across the West Midlands. Each centre was located within the highest percentile of nationally delineated deprivation factors. The research findings suggest that all participants called on latent socio-cultural accounts of class in relationally defining themselves in opposition to others; that the power dynamic in the therapeutic relationship is constructed differently between the working class participants and the counsellors; that therapists symbolise a homogenous middle class to the working class participants; that the cultural capital of the therapist is resisted by the working class client; and that the focus group participants’ constructions of therapy, coupled with the counsellors’ terms of therapeutic engagement when working in Sure Start centres, signal implications for practice. Class, as addressed in this study, indicates it is an issue in primary processing, and confirms its centrality to the therapeutic relationship.
Supervisor: Wheeler, Sue; Miller, Henry Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Working-Class ; Counselling ; Psychotherapy ; Theory ; Practice