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Feminist Family Therapy

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					Feminist Family
   Therapy
  ACSW 2008 Annual Conference

             Dr. Deborah Foster, RSW
              Dr. Karen Nielsen, RSW
Slides will be posted on ACSW Web site
next week
                        Outline
Development of feminist family therapy
 What  is feminism
 What is family therapy
 Feminist family therapy
 Philosophy
 Themes
 Interventions
 Premises congruent with values of social work.
Video
        What is Feminism?
 Radical   - capitalism is barrier to ending
  female oppression. No alternative other
  than the total uprooting and
  reconstruction of society to achieve goals
 Socialist - women being held down as a
  result of their unequal standing in
  workplace and the domestic sphere. Both
  must change for equality.
                 What is Feminism?
Liberal
 Equality will happen through political & legal
reform
Eco-feminism
 Belief in the interconnectedness of all forms of life
and each act effects the whole.
 All forms of oppression affect us all
 Two kinds of power: power over & power within.
Power from within is empowerment& is unlimited
& renewable.
 Diversity is needed in the system to maintain
stability. (true for political and economic systems
also.)
          The Influence of Feminism: Three Waves

First Wave - Right to vote
Second Wave – Right to reproductive control,
  equal pay for equal work, no fault divorce,
  gender neutral language & sanctions against
  marital rape
Third wave –celebrate diversity; combat
  inequalities women face as a result of age,
  gender, race, sexual orientation, economic status
  or level of education; access to NRT for single
  women and lesbians
    Gender Role Socialization
            Exercise
 What messages did you get about being
  an man/woman when you were growing
  up
 How has your socialization influenced
  your practice
 Assign a recorder/discuss
 Be prepared to report back
 10 Mins
  Family Therapy Types

Structural

Strategic

Bowenian

Narrative

Feminist
    Structural Family Therapy
Salvador Minuchin
 Directive & action orientated
 Goal: modify the present, not explore past
 Goal: not symptom relief but for family to
  reorganize itself around a symptom
 No pathologizing/ labeling of individuals
 Therapist not to impose their beliefs on family
 No consideration of power differential between men,
  women & children
         Strategic Family Therapy
Jay Haley
 Does not address gender/power differences
 Therapist responsible for influencing family
 Associated with use of paradoxical techniques
 Give tasks and homework
 Not concerned with the past
 View of dysfunction: symptoms regulate
  homeostasis in families; symptom is a type of
  behavior. Symptoms carry a function for the
  family
        Strategic Family Therapy

   The identified patient ( symptom carrier)
    cannot be viewed separate & apart from
    the family. Unless the system changes, it is
    difficult for the individual to change.
   Insight is not needed for change to take
    place.
                      Bowenian
     Murray Bowen
 Goal for the individual to differentiate & take "I"
  position in family of origin
 Individual must stay connected to family &
  therapy generally involves 3 generations of family
 Triangulation is a key concept. Triangles are likely
  to develop during times of distance.
 In relationships, the partner who experiences the
  most distress will often connect with someone else
  as a way to gain an ally.
Bowenian

 Conceptualizes togetherness and
  individuality as competing forces
 Therapy focus on "overcoming
  togetherness needs and increasing
  individuality"
 No recognition that women are relational

 Therapist neutral

 Does not address gender/power
  differences
      Narrative Family Therapy

Michael White and David Epstein
 Developed as a reaction to labelling &
  pathologizing of traditional family therapy
 Stresses a collaborative relationship with
  family
 Key concept is externalization, creates a team
  made up of therapist & persons united against
  an outside problem
               Narrative Therapy


 Emphasis is on victory over problems &
  not on problem-saturated story.
 Emphasis is on uniqueness of persons, not
  their “deviance”
 Fits very well with a feminist approach
My Big Fat Greek Wedding


 As you watch the video clip, consider the
  socialization messages?
 Who carries the power in this family?
        Feminist Family Therapy
   Developed in Second Wave
   Rachel Hare-Mustin (1978): A Feminist Approach to
    Family Therapy
   Application of feminist theory & values to family
    therapy, including personal & political
   Understanding gender & power is the core of
    therapeutic practice
   Understanding client’s problems requires a socio-
    cultural perspective
   Societal changes & empowerment of the individual
       Feminist Family Therapy

   Explores way gender roles & socialization
    affect each individual & their relationships
    with one another in family system, society &
    within the client therapist relationship
   Recognizes the unequal status of women &
    the reasons for that inequality
   Feminist family theory is a philosophy, not
    just a set of techniques
   Therapists help clients examine & challenge
    gender rules & roles
        Themes in Feminist Therapy

 Understanding power & control issues
 Examining external forces that influence behavior

 Identifying messages receive in growing up

 Learning to accept appropriate responsibility

 Exploring personal values/beliefs

 Recognition that both women & men live in a
  gendered context & that male gender roles can also
  be problematic
 Parenting is not the sole responsibility of women
         Feminist Family Therapy

 Egalitarian role of feminist therapist
 Therapeutic alliance: Recognize power imbalance
  between client & therapist
 Judicious use of self-disclosure to reduce power
  differential between client & counselor
 No labelling & pathologizing

 No giving interpretations

 Client is “expert” on self
           Feminist Family Therapy
 Historically women & men have been
  socialized in different way. Men socialized to
  be task focused; women are socialized to be
  emotional caretakers.
 Masculinity is defined through separation;
  femininity is defined through attachment.
 Important to incorporate a gender lens when
  counselling couples & families. Empowerment
  is a key concept.
       Brokeback Mountain

 How do same sex relationships challenge
  our assumptions about male female
  socialization
 Consider the importance of a gender lens
    Empowerment


Empowerment: the process of increasing
 the capacity of individuals or groups to
 make choices & to transform those
 choices into desired actions & outcomes.
        Feminist Family Therapy
o   Includes male clients and male therapists
o   Seeks non-gendered & culturally fair ways to
    approach & interpret traditional
    psychotherapeutic theories and techniques
o   It looks at gender role strain for both men &
    women
o   Family seen as powerful resource for positive
    change
o   The task of therapy is to mobilize that resource
         Intervention Techniques in Feminist
                   Family Therapy
   Gender-role analysis
      Help family understand the impact of gender-role
       expectations in their relationships
      Provides clients with insight into the ways social
       issues affect their problems
   Power analysis
      Emphasis on identifying the power differences in
       relationships, in society, and impact on family
      Clients helped to recognize different kinds of
       power they possess and how they and others
       exercise power
      Intervention Techniques in
      Feminist Family Therapy
o   Power issues detrimental to the family system
    are confronted
o   Feminist family therapists help clients examine
    and challenge rules and roles and reorganize
    them so that destructive patterns can change
o   Feminist family therapists encourage the
    development of inner resources and goal
    setting
                    Reframing
 Turns problem behaviors into resources & conflict
  situations into platforms for agreement
 Fundamental shift in our cultural paradigm
 Encouraged & rewarded to be problem-solvers
  from early age
 Seeing self through the filters of being a problem
  solver sets our perceptual filters to "scan for
  problems"
 Life is seen primarily as a source of problems
  being served up so that we can maintain our status
  as master problem solver
                  Reframing
 Problem solving is dominant theme in schools,
  psychotherapy, management & counseling
 This orientation can hide from us the small
  successes that if noticed and nurtured, can lead
  to creative spirit of continuous improvement &
  success
 An individual attitude of reframing problems
  into potential and opportunity is more than just
  “sleight of mind”. It is literally a way to
  change the perceptions of ourselves and others
             Gaylord’s Wall


   Acknowledging small successes: is it
    sleight of mind?
      Social Work & Feminist Family Therapy

Core Social Work Values and Principles
Value 1: Respect for Inherent Dignity and Worth of
 Persons
Value 2: Pursuit of Social Justice
Value 3: Service to Humanity
Value 4: Integrity of Professional Practice
Value 5: Confidentiality in Professional Practice
Value 6: Competence in Professional Practice
      Core FTT Values and Principles

Value 1: Respect clients' freedom to choose;
 emphasize development of collaborative
 relationships; therapy must be geared to helping
 the client see that she must be her own rescuer -
 that the power she longs for is not in someone else
 but in herself. Client as expert (Respect for
 Inherent Dignity and Worth of Persons)
Value 2: The personal is political; consider problems
 within societal context; actively seeking to change
 gender injustices experienced by women and men.
 (Pursuit of Social Justice)
      Social Work & Feminist Family
                 Therapy
Value 3: Feminist therapist seeks multiple
 avenues for impacting change, including
 public ed. & advocacy within professional
 organizations, lobbying legislative actions
 (Service to Humanity)
Value 4: Feminist therapist is accountable
 self, colleagues & clients. (Integrity of
 Professional Practice)
    Social Work & Feminist Family
               Therapy
Value 5: Open agenda, informed consent;
 egalitarian relationship (Confidentiality
 in Professional Practice)
Value 6: A feminist therapist will contract
 to work with clients & issues within the
 realm of her/his competencies
 (Competence in Professional Practice)

				
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