Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Religion, Therapeutic Alliance, New England, Social Work Education, Religiosity

Major Advisor

Michael Fendrich

Associate Advisor

Nina Rovinelli Heller

Associate Advisor

Terry Northcut

Field of Study

Social Work


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


The profession of Social Work has moved far from its religious roots. The secularization of the profession and society as a whole has left religious persons who enter secular treatment as a minority population, particularly in the more secular parts of America such as the New England region. This study of 330 clinical social workers in New England explored their knowledge, education and attitude towards religion, as well as the incorporation of religion into clinical practice, in order to determine impacts upon the therapeutic alliance built with religious clients. Quantitative and qualitative analyses of survey data and narrative responses demonstrate that the majority of clinical social workers in New England engage in positive therapeutic alliance building with religious clients. Additionally, the therapeutic alliance with religious clients is strengthened by education regarding specific intake and treatment tools with which to incorporate a religious client’s faith into the treatment process, as well as social worker acquisition of specific knowledge about the diversity of religious traditions and perspectives. The strengthening of the therapeutic alliance will increase the probability of a positive treatment outcome with religious clients.