What help can you get talking to somebody?’ Explaining class differences in the use of talking treatments

Sociol Health Illn. 2014 May;36(4):531-48. doi: 10.1111/1467-9566.12082.


Talking treatments are underused in England by working-class people: their higher rates of common mental disorders compared with their middle-class counterparts are not matched by an increased use of these treatments. Given that,overall, talking treatments are effective in tackling depression and anxiety,understanding their underuse is important. Based upon semi-structured interview data I argue that a framework centred on individuals' cultural dispositions towards treatment can help with this task. Following Bourdieu, such dispositions can be traced to social structural conditioning factors, together comprising the habitus. Four key dispositions emerge from the data: verbalisation and introspection, impetus for emotional health, relation to medical authority and practical orientation to the future. In turn, these dispositions are rooted in the material, health, occupational and educational characteristics of working-class circumstances. Tracing these circumstances offers suggestions for increasing the use of this service.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • England / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Mental Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychotherapeutic Processes*
  • Social Class*
  • Socioeconomic Factors