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Feminist and Multicultural Counseling and Psychotherapy
Transcript of Feminist and Multicultural Counseling and Psychotherapy
Lay of the Land
Feminist Therapy Clip
Case of Sarah
Sarah, female, 35 year old, employed, married with one child, sought therapy due to the lack of self confidence and self esteem especially from public speaking. She reported that when addressing colleagues and co-workers she experienced face redness, extreme sweating, body temperature rise, heart pounding and stuttering. These symptoms also led to her to avoid such situations, keeping quiet during meetings and, making excuses or pretending of not feeling well. Accordingly, she felt regularly ashamed and very embarrassed, especially due to face redness, because she “wondered about male colleagues reactions.” On the other hand, she was capable hard working employee who made quite many contributions to the company. Yet, she wondered why she has low self esteem and self confidence despite significant results.
She grew up in a religious family as a second child, together with two brothers. The oldest brother was always preferred by her parents and always put as an example for everything. Although she faired of pretty well having good paid job, independent family life, knowledge of one foreign language and lots of skills that prove her excellence her brother still received greater attention from the family. In addition, she recalled situations from her early childhood when she was “imitating others” and “acting as others” all for the sake of acceptance and recognition.
She also recalled sarcastic remarks towards her parents and brother and later to anyone when she experienced injustice and rejection. She realized that this was indeed her cry for an attention and recognition and her whole life was revolving around trying to come into the picture of equal worth and acceptance as her brother.
She did her best trying to get her parents attentions thus she made it her duty to become: very good daughter (she was sick frequently but still managed to care for her self and her family), an excellent cook and housewife plus great worker/professional. Still, despite all this, this was not enough for her inner peace and satisfaction.
Explore construction of gender and its realities in social context, relationships and dominant societal discourses
Emphasis on increasing awareness of all forms of oppression, social change.
Addresses unique needs of ethnic minority women
in Western Cultures.
Focus on increasing women's individual autonomy, self- fulfillment, and equality.
Focus on constructing a unique and
equality valid subculture that values
relationship, cooperation and
The Least You Need to Know
How an identity and relationships are affected by:
Humans seek and move toward connection with others across life-span (primary motivation force)
Root cause of emotional distress
Significant Contributions to the field
Growth-fostering relationships include the “five good things:”
Zest and energy
Sense of self-worth
Knowledge/clarity of self, other person, and the relationship
Creativity and productivity
Desire for more connection w/o feeling helpless or needy
Build growth-fostering relationships with clients:
Foster personal growth
Increase client capacity to be in relationships out of session
Two Primary Themes
Egalitarian counseling relationship
Recognition of sources of oppression
Developing an egalitarian relationship
Exploring sources of marginalization and disconnection
Fostering authenticity and empowerment
Building better relationships & communities
Open Discussion of...
Power dynamics involved in counseling
Communications with other professionals
How to resolve client issues
Involves admitting errors
Open to correction
Mutual Empathy & Growth
What is it?
It is a TWO-WAY empathy between counselor and client that promotes the growth of not only the CLIENT but also the COUNSELOR
Repairs empathetic failures in childhood relationships
Conflict raised in safe context is “good conflict”
Allows for learning and growth
High levels of honesty and authenticity
Genuine responsiveness that keeps the well-being and needs of the client in mind
Will this facilitate the client’s growth?
Will this strengthen the relationship?
Apologizing for mistakes
Correcting the disconnection
Feminist Code of Ethics
Recognizing impact of dominant cultural norms
Acknowledging power differences
Establishing counselor accountability
Promoting social change
Can Men Play a Role?
Can be applied to both men and women, Values have validity for men and women
For meaning, identity and connection as social roles change
How to connect in adulthood after boyhood
socialization disconnected selves and emotions
The Person is Political, The Political is Person
Separate internal/external source of problems through awareness of oppression, privilege, and impact of society on individual
Politics of DSM Diagnosis
DSM diagnosis an oppressive practice, though a label can be useful if it helps client understand self
Experience of self is organized and developed in context of important relationships
Marginalization and Oppression
Oppression and isolation is root cause of client’s problems
Internal constructs/expectations of relationships, based on early life experience, can affect present relationships
Relational Resilience & courage
Moves back into relationship after disconnection, empathetic failures, and asks for help when needed
Explore client's gender role expectation & how these relate to presenting problem & client's life
“Mattering” and Connection
• Asses relationships and context where client feels valued
• “Mattering” to someone vital to mental and relational health
Disconnection Strategies and Central Relational Paradox
Identify client strategies to disconnect from others when feeling vulnerable
Socio-Political Awareness & Empowerment
Help client to be aware of own:
Gender, Ethnicity, Social Class, Sexual Orientation, Physical Characteristics & Abilities
Awareness on how socio-cultural values inform identity
To build growth-fostering relationship
Interventions : Intervention from other approaches may be used if adapted in a gender and culture sensitive manner
Gender Role Analysis
- encourage client to examine how cultural rules about male and female behavior affect client’s current distress.
- teaches difference between:
- able to balance needs of self and others
- attends only to the needs of others
- attends only to the needs of the self
Accepting feelings as rational and valid
Being able to please self
Identify personal strengths
Gentle with self and accepting personal “imperfections”
Correcting Relational Experiences
Maintaining an empathic and mutual engaged relationship
Bring empathic awareness to own experience
Question client’s negative self statements
“I shouldn’t feel this way”
“ I was a fool to do X”
Social Activism and Justice
Help clients become involved in activist groups
Counselors advocate for clients in obtaining mental health or other services
Involves analyzing the effects of oppression and social power on the client and impact on presenting concerns.
Awareness of sociopolitical issues in individual lives that will empower client to make meaningful change in life, relationships and larger community