Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Research Paper

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Michael Karson

Second Advisor

Mark Aoyagi

Third Advisor

Sonja Holt


Frame analysis, Psychotherapy, Behavior analysis, Goffman, Skinner


The sociologist Erving Goffman's 1974 work, "Frame Analysis," is an attempt to account for how people construct and organize meaning in their experiences. The central principle in this approach is that of the frame: An abstractive concept that refers to the totality of environmental events and stimuli exerting some influence on how people behave in a particular setting and time, with respect to the expectations, roles, and norms to be observed.

Though Frame Analysis was developed within the discipline of sociology, it converges in apparently useful ways with the work of clinical psychology, both in its content and epistemology. Goffman's approach demonstrates a particular affinity with the principles and sensibilities of Behavior Analysis, which is likewise an inductive, process-oriented approach, but geared toward predicting and influencing human behavior. As such, the present paper will translate Goffman's Frame Analysis into the language and principles of Behavior Analysis, beginning with a review of key constructs, principles and limitations of both approaches before converting Goffman's ideas into terms more easily utilized in the domain of clinical work. This translation will be concurrently exemplified by a specific, de-identified clinical case study. The overarching aspiration is to bring a useful set of principles from sociology to bear on important issues in clinical psychology.

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.

Publication Statement

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39 pgs