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Faculty-student collaborative research on social class published

May 21, 2012

  • Dr. Teresa McDowell

In a recent paper, professor Teresa McDowell and student Kyle Zrenchik, M.A.’12, argue that family therapists should incorporate a critical outlook on social class into the therapeutic process. The paper was published in April 2012 in the Journal of Feminist Family Therapy.

In the article, Zrenchik and McDowell write,

Understanding the effects of classism on individuals and families helps clinicians better understand, properly diagnose, and develop effective treatment plans for all clients. At best, therapists are often unaware of their own classist values, and therefore may be unable to fully connect with low status clients. At worst, our own class privileges, by definition of our social and professional role, can inadvertently harm those we attempt to help.

Zrenchik says that working with Dr. McDowell has been a high point of my experience here. I traveled across the country to work with Dr. McDowell, and am delighted to say that she is truly one of the most remarkable educators I have had the pleasure to work with. To be able to co-author my first article with her is an incredible honor and one that I will cherish for many years to come.

Zrenchik, a student in the Marriage, Couple, and Family Therapy program, participated in two internships in the community, the first at Roosevelt High School and the second at the private practice of Dr. Nancy Campbell Hanks. At Roosevelt, he and fellow student Elizabeth Parker worked with school’s Gay Straight Alliance, helping to expand the group and diversify its membership. Zrenchik is also the occasional host of a community radio program devoted to queer culture called Out Loud on KBOO 90.7FM. He plans to pursue a career as a clinician and educator, focusing on issues of sexuality, sexual identity, and their relationship within greater social systems.

Dr. McDowell, who is the current chair of the counseling psychology department and teaches in the Marriage, Couple, and Family Therapy program, has co-authored several papers with students.


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