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Copy of Feminist Therapy

Presentation for Intro to Counseling.

Ellen Lacrosse

on 26 October 2013

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Transcript of Copy of Feminist Therapy

Feminist Therapy
Core Philosophical Assumptions:
~The personal is political
~Power relationships are central to the an individual's social experience, and to achieve mental health is to come to terms with these power relationships and overcome the imbalances which are obstacles in a client's life.
~Society is patriarchal
~Traditional theories of psychology and therapy have been androcentric.
Elements of the androcentric worldview include:
a deterministic assumption
an intrapsychic orientation
~Issues of gender cannot be separated from those of race, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, and ethnicity.
~Stereotypes must be confronted and clients must take on power relationship. Defining social relationships.
~Sociocultural perspective
~Rationality, Care and Connectedness
~Relational-Cultural Theory
~Feminist therapy has developed into a number of related but distinct perspectives. Each with their own set of theoretical assumptions.
- Liberal feminists
- Cultural feminists
- Radical feminists
- Socialist feminists
- Postmodern feminists
- Women of Color Feminists
-Lesbian feminists
-Global international feminists
The fundamental assumption is that behavior and personality are not fixed, but are malleable, and can be positively influenced through therapeutic intervention and/or social change.
Goals of Therapy
Common Themes
- At an individual level, feminist therapists work to help females and males recognize, claim, and embrace their personal power. This is the overarching long-term therapeutic goal. (Gilbert and Rader 2007)- The feminist approach was developed and is implemented in a grassroots style; no single individual can be identified as the founder of this approach, therefore reflecting a central theme of feminist collaboration. (Gerald Corey 2009)
Some Goals...
-  According to Enns (2004), some goals include:
o  Empowerment
o  Valuing and affirming diversity
o  Striving for change rather than adjustment
o  Balancing independence and interdependence
o  Social change
o  Self nurturing

-  According to Worell and Remer (2003), feminist therapists help their clients:
o   Become aware of their own gender-role socialization process
o   Identify their internalized messages and replace them with more self-enhancing beliefs
o   Understanding how sexist and oppressive societal beliefs and practices influence them in negative ways
o   Acquire skills to bring about change in the environment
o   Restructure institutions to rid them of discriminatory practices
o   Develop a wide range of behaviors that are freely chosen
o   Evaluate the impact of social factors on their lives
o   Develop a sense of personal and social power
o   Recognize the power of relationships and connectedness
o    Trust their own experience and their intuition
“The modern development of feminist therapy has opened many doors for those particular problems that have been previously ignored, misunderstood, or underestimated.” ~Joan C. Chrisler
Gerald Corey, Author of Theory and Practice of Counseling says;
“The feminist perspective offers a unique approach to understanding the roles that both men and women have been socialized to accept and bringing this understanding into the therapeutic process.”(p. 341, 2009)

Role Of Therapist
The counselor’s role is to help the client explore:
~Anxiety and defenses
~Help them understand control and power issues
~Examine external forces that influence behavior
~Learn to accept appropriate responsibility for their life
~Explore one's values and reflect on the meaning of one's life.
The therapist should not reproduce the power imbalances the client experiences every day
Techniques that are used by therapists include:
~Helping the client understand the impact of gender roles
~To provide clients with insights into ways social issues affect their problems
~To emphasize power differences between men and women in society
~To help clients recognize different kinds of power that they possess and how they and others exercise their power
There is no one way to show the progress and it may differ from client to client and therapist to therapist.

For some they monitor progress by keeping an eye on the goals the client has made and if they have, or are working, to reach them.
Does it work?
Virginia Rutter said this on the effectiveness of feminist therapy:
~“Emergence from our ritual enclosure takes many forms. Along the way she experiences many small openings or illuminations that herald her psychological arrival. These are precursors of the larger emergence from the container of our woman-to-woman relationship that lies somewhere in the future.” (p. 171, 1993)
~“At the end of the ordeal (therapy), she has enfolded her experience within, and the veil is lifted. And finally she develops an affinity with other people who have been analyzed or initiated, an affinity based on a shared experience of depth or meaning that leads to a more conscious world view.”(p. 172, 1993)

Joan C. Chrisler and Doris Howard commented on the effectiveness of feminist therapy:
~“The modern development of feminist therapy has opened many doors for those particular problems that have been previously ignored, misunderstood, or underestimated.”(p. 1, 1992)

~“New directions in feminist theory and practice are evolving to meet contemporary demands [brought about by women’s changing roles].”(p. 1, 1992)
The assumptions that underlie the theories of feminist counseling are grounded in a rich theoretical background of feminist philosophy. Elements of this philosophy can be dated to the beginnings of the feminist political movement in the 19th century, but the heart of the thinking emerges out of the revolutionary movements of the 1960’s. The feminist approach cannot be traced to any one founder, but leading theorists include Carol Gilligan, Surrey, Kaschak, Jeanne Baker Miller, Laura S. Brown, Oliva M. Espin, and Carolyn Zerbin.
Client Centered
Provides the client with greater control over their therapy
Provides the client with a supportive relationship in the face of societal power struggles
The therapist and client are considered equals in the process. (much like the humanistic approach)
Feminist Therapy has no one method and often uses many therapeutic approaches.

The therapy is best applied to...
Societal Power Struggles
(gender roles, race, religion, sexual orientation, self-assertion)
Gender Issues
(gender identity, gender expectations, body image)
(family, sexual relationships, intimacy issues)

"woman centered"
Some believe feminist therapy is primarily a therapy targeted to women. This stigma, although false, limits the approach.
Rejects diagnostic labeling
Often rejects diagnostic labeling and "diseases", reframes these processes as "coping skills" within a stress inducing environment.
Feminism as a movement
Closely aligned with the broader pursuits of social and political feminism and is "more of a social movement than a type of psychotherapy."
Feminism as a movement
Closely aligned with the broader pursuits of social and political feminism and is "more of a social movement than a type of psychotherapy."
Personal Opinion
Because the therapist is up front in their personal opinions it is possible that such opinions can affect the perceptions of the client.
View of Human Nature
A new age, a new way of thinking
Males used as social norm and women were assumed to be “similar to men” in their nature.
Critical of most traditional theories that contain biases including:
Alternative sexual orientation
Internal causes
Early life development

Client Therapist Relationship
Therapist states personal values from the get go as well as disclosing their own perceptions as to what is going on, so the client can choose whether to continue with them.
Egalitarianism Relationship
Client has a hand in their own treatment
Client is made aware of the balance of power
Presentation by:

Jonathan Berroa-Silfa
Leah Cirker-Stark
Rosana Hamadeh
Mark Stearns
Ben Swokla
Cody Ward
Full transcript