Psychological discourses on gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Psychology at Massey University
The present study was concerned with how the discourses used in cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), theory and practice construct the identity categories of gender, ethnicity and socioeconomic status (SES). This study also focused on whether CBT practitioners view CBT as a psychotherapy that is designed and aimed more toward obtaining individual client change and adaptation to distress than focusing on social causation of client distress and social change awareness. The research aims were executed using both Potter and Wetherell's (1987) approach to discourse analysis and a feminist poststructuralist framework. Ten clinical psychologists, participated. They were interviewed about the identity categories of gender, ethnicity and SES in relation to CBT theory and practice. An open ended unstructured approach to interviewing was undertaken. Transcripts from the interviews were analyzed. Analysis resulted in the identification of three main discourses: the assessment discourse, the individual practitioner discourse and the empowerment advocacy discourse. Overall analysis of the discourses revealed how they acted to construct CBT as a beneficial psychotherapy to use with clients from ethnic minority groups, low socioeconomic groups and for women, despite the overall consensus that CBT is not specifically designed to assess the effect of gender, ethnicity and SES factors. Analysis of transcripts also revealed that participants view CBT as psychotherapy that is designed more toward obtaining individual client change, though participants stated that CBT has the potential to design social change initiatives. The key issues arising from the findings are discussed and some general conclusions are presented. Limitations and future directions for research are also discussed.