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Social Class and Classism in the Helping Professions

Social Class and Classism in the Helping Professions
Research, Theory, and Practice

  • William M. Liu - Counseling Psychology Program, University of Iowa, University of Iowa, USA

August 2010 | 320 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Provide your students with engaging material on social class and classism

The impact of social class and classism on mental health functioning crosses racial, ethnic, and social lines and significantly contributes to our overall well-being. Any attempt to understand individuals must include an understanding of how economic issues and class have contributed to their difficulties. In Social Class and Classism in the Helping Professions, author William Ming Liu presents theory and research on the impact of classism and social class on mental health. He provides an original framework—the Social Class Worldview Model—for exploring each person's individual and subjective life experiences. These experiences form a perspective that is unique to the individual. The author then helps the reader integrate this realization into the study of poverty, economic inequality, wealth, and the often overlooked implications of greed, materialism, and consumerism for a more complete understanding of social class and classism.

Intended Audience
This text is intended as a supplement for graduate and advanced undergraduate courses that address psychological and counseling theories, multicultural counseling, and research in the helping professions. These courses may be found in departments of counseling, rehabilitation, psychology, education, nursing, and social work.

Chapter 1. Introduction
Definition and Focus

The Importance of Social Class in the Helping Professions


The Helping Professions' Poor Understanding of Social Class and Classism

Sociology's Impact on the Helping Professions

Social Class, Socioeconomic Status, Social Status, and Classism

Social Class and Classism Multicultural Competencies

Conclusion and Summary

Chapter 2. Social Class, Classism, and Mental and Physical Health
The Context of Social Class and Classism

The Social Class Health Gradient

Social Class and Mental Health

Implications for Practice

Conclusions and Summary

Chapter 3. Problems in Social Class Measurement and Research
Problems With Current Methods for Understanding Social Class

Categorizing Social Class

How Is Categorizing Accomplished?

Moving Toward Subjectivity of Social Class and Classism

Implications for Practice


Chapter 4. The Social Class Worldview Model
The Context of Economic Cultures

Social Class and Classism Consciousness

Implications for Practice


Chapter 5. Social Class and Psychotherapy, Counseling, and Career-Related Issues
Counseling, Psychotherapy, and Helping Professionals

Social Class and Classism to Inform Our Work With Clients

Empirically Validated and Supported Treatments and Common Factors

Understanding Our Own Biases and Social Class Experiences

Career Counseling

Using Social Class-Based Interventions in Counseling

Implications for Practice


Chapter 6. The Impact of Social Class and Classism on Healthy Psychological Development
Social Class and Classism and Psychological Development

Quality of Child Care

Sleep Habits

Parent and Child Relationships

Impact of Media and Television

Social Class and Classism Traumas

Into Adulthood

Implications for Practice


Chapter 7. Greed, Materialism, and Affluence and Mental Health: The Rich Are Not Immune
Greed, Materialism, and Affluence

Consumption and Being Healthy

Materialism and Consumerism

Other Forms of Commodification and Consumerism


Affluence and Mental Health

Implications for Practice


Chapter 8. Classism, Inequalities, and Poverty
How People Make Meaning of Poverty and Inequality


Economic Resources, Economic Privilege, Economic Entitlement

The Psychology of Privilege and Entitlement


White Trashism

Implications for Practice


Chapter 9. Integrating Social Class and Classism Into Training, Education, and Supervision
Training and Education

Upward Mobility Bias

Becoming Social Class and Classism Competent

Using the Social Class Worldview Model (SCWM-R) as a Training Tool

Training Experiences and Supervision

Privilege and Power


Chapter 10. Social Class, Classism, Advocacy, and Social Justice
Definitions and Contexts of Social Justice, Advocacy, and Empowerment Work


Social Justice and Social Class and Classism




About the Author
Key features
Key Features
  • Liu's original Social Class Worldview Model–Revised provides a theoretical framework for integrating each individual's reaction to social class and classism experiences and addressing that worldview within counseling and psychology work.
  • An "Implications for Practice" section at the end of many chapters helps professionals recognize ways to interpret and frame each client's experiences and how to use that knowledge compassionately and effectively.
  • Readers receive guidance in additional ways to act as advocates for their clients—regardless of affluence—through a study of privilege, social justice, empowerment, and competence.

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