Feminist Therapy by juanagui

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									      Feminist Therapy

“Once a woman sees a feminist therapist,
she never goes back.”
                         ~ Lenore Walker
Agenda
 What is feminism?

 A very brief history

 Assumptions about human nature

 View of personality development

 View of psychopathology

 Nature & techniques of therapy

 What about men?

 Does feminist therapy work?
What is Feminism?


Feminism is a diverse, competing, and often opposing
collection of social theories, political movements, and moral
philosophies, largely motivated by or concerning the
experiences of women, especially in terms of their social,
political, and economic inequalities.
“Is feminism dead?”   (7-15-98)
 Types of Feminism
 A diverse, competing, and often opposing collection of
  social theories, political movements, and moral
  philosophies

 Three main differences
    Emphasize unique qualities of women?
    Integrate issues of culture and class into viewpoint?
    Advocate for rejection of masculine or patriarchal models?
Types of Feminism
 Liberal Feminism
     Emphasis on equality of women & men
     Aims to change current legal structures and
      interventions to promote access for women
     Criticized for trying to be like men
Types of Feminism

 Cultural Feminism
     Emphasizes differences between men & women
     Values unique female qualities
     Gender interacts with race, social class, and other factors


  “We found that one important source of healing emerged when we
  got in touch with all the factors in our lives that were causing
  particular pain. For black females, and males too, that means
  learning about the myriad ways racism, sexism, class exploitation,
  homophobia, and various other structures of domination operate in
  our daily lives to undermine our capacity to be self-determining.”
                                                               -- bell hooks
   Types of Feminism
   Radical & Socialist Feminism
          Oppression based on gender is the most stubborn form of
           injustice (Hillary Clinton heckled)
          Capitalism is oppressive
          The whole patriarchal, capitalist system needs to be abolished
          Advocates separatism
          Questions heterosexuality




Left                                                                Right
       Radical/Social      Cultural   Liberal
  History (herstory)
 Karen Horney (1966)
   • Psychoanalyst who rejected “penis envy”

    •   Women envy men’s power and social status

 Phyllis Chesler (1972)
   • Criticized patriarchal male therapist-female client relationship
     (therapist is expert, woman submits to his wisdom)
    •   Said that refusal to conform was labeled as mental illness

 NOW (National Organization for Women)
   • Betty Friedan, 1966
   • Political issues/discrimination laws and hiring processes

 Consciousness raising groups (1970s)
   • Bring about social change
   • No leaders, open discussion
   • Personal is political (gender role stereotypes in workplace, society)
Different meanings in different cultures
History cont.

   Lenore Walker (Contemporary feminist therapist)


    Four stages of feminist therapy development
      1.   Challenged traditional therapies
      2.   Integrated some positive aspects of traditional therapy
      3.   Advocated for all other therapies adding gender
           sensitive components
      4.   Feminist therapy can stand on its own
 Therapy from a Feminist Perspective

 The practice of therapy informed by feminist
  political philosophy and analysis, grounded in
  the multicultural feminist scholarship on the
  psychology of women and gender.

 Developed out of dissatisfaction with
  traditional approaches to psychotherapy
Therapy from a Feminist Perspective

  “A therapy which fails to address power issues in
  people’s lives works automatically to reinforce
  oppression”
                                       -- McLellan, 1999

  “We found that one important source of healing emerged
  when we got in touch with all the factors in our lives that were
  causing particular pain. For black females, and males too, that
  means learning about the myriad ways racism, sexism, class
  exploitation, homophobia, and various other structures of
  domination operate in our daily lives to undermine our
  capacity to be self-determining.”
                       -- bell hooks on “interlocking oppressions”
 Assumptions about Human Nature

 We exist in a political and social system that is male
  dominated: Patriarchy
 In order for women to experience changes in personal
  lives, political changes (to social institutions) must occur
 Gender schemas/sex-role stereotypes limit development
   •   In society, men have more power than women
   •   Women are taught to rely on men
 Patriarchy

 Masculine behaviors and         Sex
  thought patterns are the norm    Biological: Male/Female
 Hierarchy of value and power     Usually dichotomous
  based on gender, race, class,
  sexual orientation, etc.        Gender
 Men and women are judged         Social construct:
  differently for the same          Masculine/Feminine
  characteristics                  Occurs on a continuum
 Gender Socialization

 Gender and Children

      First question asked?

      Males preferred in some cultures

      Infant behavior across gender is similar: treatment is different
           Baby’s clothing predicted how “it” was treated (Smith & Lloyd, 1978)
           Media, teachers, peers, etc. often provide and reinforce gender role
            expectations (i.e., what is socially appropriate for females & males)

      Over time, a gender role schema develops:
       We interpret our world based on our gender expectations
Gender socialization cont.
 Puberty
     Sex differences become more visually apparent
     Conflict for girls because of how society views the female
      body and role of female sexuality-conflicting
          Importance of appearance (especially for girls)
          Sexual double-standard
     Negative response to menstruation

 Adulthood
     Working mom/Superwoman
     Role strain/conflict
     Lack of support (at work and home)
     Glass ceiling
     “Empty Nest”
     Menopause
Views on Psychopathology
 Psychological distress is environmentally induced via
  gender roles and (sexist) social forces
      Women at higher risk for role strain and conflict
      Women more likely to experience sexual trauma/harassment

 Psychological distress is a logical response to a stressful
  environment

 Women are over-represented in certain psychological
  disorders due to socialization and social influences (not
  because of biological differences)
      Eating disorders
      Depression
      Anxiety
      PTSD
 Views on classification

 Classification systems considered problematic

      DSM criticized for being male-centered (male = norm)
           Dependant and histrionic personality disorders are in the DSM
           Dominating, greedy, macho personality disorders?


      Classification focuses on symptoms, underemphasizes social
       context (PTSD an exception)

      Diagnostic labeling criticized for encouraging adjustment to
       male-centered social norms
Views on specific psychological problems

 Depression
       Women taught to be helpless, dependant, please men
       Feel unable to control their lives or assert true self
       Appearance = worth

 Generalized Anxiety = conflicting social expectations

 PTSD = fear, anxiety, stress felt after victimization (e.g., rape, abuse)

 Eating disorders
       Socialization and societal messages
       Use gender role analysis to examine external messages
Goals of Feminist Therapy
 Consciousness raising; subordinate group that has
  been wronged
 Recognize self in social context
 Choose own path
 Develop sense of self based on own needs
 Restructure schema, insight
 Empowerment
 Political awareness
 Self-esteem, remove lens of others
    What a feminist therapists does…
 Is aware of what he/she brings to the table (own values)
 Forms egalitarian relationship
        Demystifies therapy
      Respects what client brings to therapy
      Is aware of power balance; gives client permission to be understood
      Self-discloses own struggles (if/when therapeutically appropriate)
   Considers social, political, historical, & cultural contexts…then psychological
    things
   Supports (interpersonally, women’s groups)
   Educates
      Power analysis
      Gender role analysis
      Bibliotherapy
   Is technically eclectic, but…
        Does assertiveness training
        Reframes schemas
What about the MEN???
 Yes, men can benefit from feminist therapy
   Focus on socialization
   Attaining level of masculinity
   Drugs/alcohol, family role issues



 Men can even be feminist therapists!
   Feminist therapy does not refer to who the
    therapist or client is, but rather the framework
    they bring to the table.
 Research
 Enns & Hackett (1990)
  College women preferred feminist counselors to non-feminist
  counselors when career planning, sexual harassment, or assault was
  the issue.


 Marecek et al. (1979)
  67% of women in feminist therapy and 38% of women in traditional
  therapy found therapy to be helpful


 Schneider (1985)
  Feminist therapists seen as most helpful for career issues versus
  marriage or parental concerns
 Criticisms

 More a political stance than a theory of therapy

 Feminist views too diverse

 Radical feminists reject it entirely because
  psychotherapy is a tool of patriarchal,
  oppressive society.
An example: “Jane”
Jane is a single parent of two preteen kids. She is
currently unemployed but is (and has always been) very
involved in her kids’ education and social life, volunteering
for various school activities and supplementing the kids’
formal education with a variety of educational activities
such as trips to museums. She is presenting with
depression and expressing significant dissatisfaction with
her inability to keep the house tidy and organized.

How would different types of therapists respond?
   • Psychoanalytic    • Behavioral
   • Humanistic        • Cognitive
   • Existential       • Feminist
Some Good References

 Brown, Laura (1994). Subversive Dialogues:
  Theory in feminist therapy.

 Chesler, Phyllis (1972). Women and madness.

 Davis, Angela (1983). Women Race & Class.

 Enns, Carolyn (2004). Feminist Theories &
  Feminist Psychotherapies.

								
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