Unit 11: Feminist Therapy Flashcards Preview

Introduction To Theories Of Counselling And Psychotherapy > Unit 11: Feminist Therapy > Flashcards

Flashcards in Unit 11: Feminist Therapy Deck (19):

Describe the feminist view of human nature

Different from traditional theories that revolve around biologically-based gender and differences in personality characteristics between women and men. These theories tend to be androcentric or male centered, gender centric, ethnocentric, hetero sexist, intrapsychic, deterministic

Feminist therapy is gender-fair, flexible-multicultural, interactionist, and life-span-oriented.
Gender-fair theories explain differences in the behaviour of women and men in terms of socialization processes rather than on the basis of our “true“ natures
Flexible-multi cultural theories use concepts and strategies that apply equally to both individuals and groups regardless of age, race, culture, gender, ability, class, or sexual orientation
Interactionist theories contain concepts specific to the thinking, feeling, and behaving dimensions of human experience and account for contextual and environmental factors.
Life-span perspective assumes that human development is a lifelong process and that personality patterns and behavioural changes can occur at any time rather than being fixed during early childhood.


Describe the feminist perspective on personality development

Emphasize that societal gender-role expectations profoundly influence a persons identity from the moment of birth and become deeply engrained in adult personality.

Psychological differences between men and women are due to the fact that women are the primary caretakers who raise the children. Girls learn from their mothers to be affiliative and nurturing and to place a high priority on relatedness and caring for others. Boys model the aggressive, power-seeking nature of adult males and reduce the capacity for the expression of empathy and certain emotions.

Most models of human growth and development emphasize a struggle toward independence and autonomy, what feminine recognize that women are searching for a connectedness with others – in therapy women’s relational qualities are seen as strengths and as pathways for healthy growth and development instead of being identified as weaknesses or defects


Describe the term engendered lives in feminist therapy

The belief that gender is the organizing principle in peoples lives. The masculine defines the feminine – men, as the dominant group, determine the roles that women play.

Example, because men pay great attention to women’s bodies, women’s appearance is giving tremendous importance in Western society


Identify and describe the six core principles that form the foundation for the practice of feminist therapy

1) The personal is political: clients individual problems have societal and political roots. Feminist therapy aims not only for individual change but for social change. The goal is to advance a different vision of societal organization that frees both women and men from the constraints imposed by gender role expectations.

2) personal and social identities are interdependent: clients can best be understood in the context of their socio-cultural environments. Individuals have membership in interdependent social groups that are structured by cultural norms, and people occupy several different “social locations“ such as gender, ethnicity, race, social class, sexual orientation, age, and physical abilities and characteristics within this matrix. Feminist therapists work to help individuals make changes in their lives, but are also committed to working toward social change that will liberate all members of society from stereotyping, marginalization, and oppression.

3) definitions of distress and “mental illness“ are reformulated: feminist therapy rejects the disease model of mental illness. Instead consider intrapsychic and interpersonal factors as only partial exclamations for the pain that brings people to therapy. External factors are also highly influential – psychological distress is re-framed, not as disease but as a communication about unjust systems. By considering contextual variables, symptoms are reframed as survival strategies. Creative strategies for coping with societies oppression.

4) feminist therapist use an integrated analysis of oppression: gender is an essential consideration feminist therapy, both in terms of oppression and in terms of differences that may influence one’s understanding. Recognize that both women and men are affected by being raised in a culture where the sexes are differentially privileged. Although gender is emphasized, feminist therapist recognize that all forms of oppression profoundly influence beliefs, options, and perceptions, and they are equally committed to working against oppression on the basis of race, ethnicity, class, culture, religious beliefs, affectional or sexual orientation, age, and physical abilities and characteristics

5) The counselling relationship is egalitarian: attention to power is central and feminist therapy, and the therapeutic relationship is egalitarian. Clients are assumed to be experts on themselves, and the voices of the oppressed are acknowledged as authoritative and valuable sources of knowledge. Therapeutic relationship is a collaborative process in which clients are viewed as active participants in redefining themselves. Shared power, demystification of therapy – equality and mutuality. Therapist self disclosure when appropriate, therapist authenticity and presence with clients, and informed consent.

6) women’s perspectives are valued: women’s perspectives are considered central in understanding their distress. Traditional therapies that operate on androcentric norms compare women to the male norm and find them deviant – a goal of feminist therapy is to replace patriarchal “objective truth“ with feminist consciousness, which acknowledges a diversity of ways of knowing


Describe the therapeutic goals of feminist therapy

Equality, balancing independence and interdependence, empowerment, self-nurturance, and valuing diversity. Ultimate goal is to create the kind of society were sexism and other forms of discrimination and oppression are no longer a reality. Strives for transformation for both the individual client and society as a whole.

Individual level- help women and men recognize, claim, and embrace their personal power. Through this empowerment, clients are able to free themselves from the constraints of their gender-role socialization and to challenge on going institutional oppression.

A political enterprise – aim is to replace the current patriarchy with a feminist consciousness, creating a society in which relationships are interdependent, cooperative, and mutually supportive.

The personal is political – women learn to free not only themselves but all people from the bonds of oppression and stereotypes

Therapist help clients:
Become aware of their own gender-role socialization process
Identify their internalized messages and replace them with more self-enhancing beliefs
Understand how sexist and oppressive societal beliefs and practises influence them in negative ways
Acquire skills to bring about change in the environment
Restructure institutions to rid them of discriminatory practises
Develop a wide range of behaviours that are freely chosen
Evaluate the impact of social factors on their lives
Develop a sense of personal and social power
Recognize the power of relationships and connectedness
Trust their own experience and their intuition

Therapists also work toward reinterpreting women’s mental health – aim is to depathologize women’s experiencing and to change society so that women’s voices are honoured and women’s relational qualities are valued


Describe the therapists function and role in feminist therapy

Will vary to some extent depending on what theory is combined with feminist principles and concepts.
A therapist of another orientation who incorporates feminist principles and practises is not the same as a feminist therapist. Feminist therapists have integrated feminism into their approach to therapy and into their lives. Their actions and beliefs and their personal and professional lives are congruent. They use gender and power analysis to understand clients and their concerns, committed to monitoring their own biases and distortions, especially the social and cultural dimensions of women’s experiences. Also committed to understanding oppression in all it’s forms and consider the impact of oppression and discrimination on psychological well-being. Value being emotionally present for clients, being willing to share themselves during therapy, modelling proactive behaviors, and being committed to their own consciousness-raising process.

Like existential therapists, emphasize therapy as a shared journey, one that is life-changing for both client and therapist. Hold many beliefs in common with humanistic or person-centered therapist, trusting in the clients ability to move forward in a positive and constructive manner. Believe therapeutic relationship should be non-hierarchical, person-to-person relationship, and aim to empower clients to live according to their own values and rely on internal rather than external or societal locus of control in determining what is right for them. Like person-centered, convey their genuineness and strive for mutual and people between client and therapist.
Unlike person-centered therapist, do not see the therapeutic relationship in and of itself as being sufficient to produce change. Insight, introspection, and self-awareness are springboards to action, and feminist therapists work to free women and men of roles that have prohibited them from realizing their potential


Describe the client experience in feminist therapy

Are active participants. Therapists are committed to ensuring that this does not become another arena in which women remain passive and dependent – important that clients tell their stories and give voice to their experiencing. Places responsibility back on clients and relates to clients more as a person than as “expert“ – clients come to trust more in their own power. As clients realize they are understood, they begin to get in touch with a range of feelings, including anger and other prohibited emotions that they may have learned to deny themselves.

Analysis of gender-role stereotyping – the clients consciousness is raised

Therapeutic relationship is a partnership, and the client will be the expert in determining what they want from therapy – will explore ways in which has been limited by general socialization

Major goal is empowerment, which involves acquiring a sense of self acceptance, self-confidence, joy, and authenticity.


Describe the relationship between therapist and client in feminist therapy

Based on empowerment and egalitarianism. The very structure of the client-therapist relationship models how to identify and use power responsibly. Therapist clearly states their values to reduce the chance of value imposition – allows clients to make choice regarding whether or not to work with therapist

Therapists work to equalize the power base in the relationship: therapists are sensitive to ways they might abuse their own power in the relationship such as by diagnosing unnecessarily, by interpreting or giving advice, by staying aloof behind and “expert“ role, or by discounting the impact of the power imbalance between therapist and clients has on the relationship. Counsellor self disclosure and authenticity tend to reduce the power differential and aid in identifying their common issues as women.
Actively focus on the power clients have in the therapeutic relationship – encourage them to get in touch with their feelings and to honour their experiencing, to become aware of the ways they relinquish power in relationships with others as a result of socialization or as a means for survival, and to take charge of their lives and relationships by making choices that increase the possibility for experiencing mutuality in their relationships.
Work to demystify the counselling relationship – by sharing with the client their own perceptions about what is going on in the relationship, by making the client an active partner in determining any diagnosis, and by making use of appropriate self-disclosure. Explains techniques and rationale.

To free women and men of rules that have prohibited them from realizing their potential, an egalitarian counselling relationship is a stab list. Counsellor is not all-no expert but rather a “relational expert“ who strives to develop a collaborative relationship in which clients can become experts on themselves. Inclusion of clients in both assessment and treatment process


Describe the role of assessment and diagnosis in feminist therapy

Feminist therapists have been sharply critical of the DSM classification system, and research indicates that gender and race may influence assessment of clients symptoms. Sources of bias include disregarding or minimizing the effect of environmental factors on behavior; providing different treatments to various groups of individuals who display similar symptoms; inappropriately selecting diagnostic labels due to stereotypical belief; and operating from a gender-biased theoretical orientation

Many therapists do not use diagnostic labels because they are limiting for these reasons: focus on the individual’s symptoms and not the social factors that cause dysfunctional behavior; as part of a system developed by mainly white male psychiatrists, they may represent an instrument of oppression; they, especially the personality disorders, it may reinforce gender-role stereotypes and encourage adjustment to the norms of the status quo; they may reflect the inappropriate application of power in a therapeutic relationship; can lead to an over emphasis on individual solutions rather than social change; have the potential to reduce ones respect for clients

Emphasizes the importance of considering the context of women’s lives and points out that many symptoms can be understood as coping or survival strategies rather than as evidence of pathology. Individuals are not to blame for personal problems that are largely caused by dysfunctional social environments, they are responsible for working toward change.


Describe the technique of empowerment in feminist therapy

Paying careful attention to informed consent issues, discussing ways of getting the most from therapy session, clarifying expectations, identifying goals, and working toward a contract that will guide the therapeutic process. By explaining how therapy works and enlisting client as an active partner, the therapy process is demystified and client becomes an equal participant. Client will learn they are in charge of the direction, length, and procedures of therapy


Describe the technique of self-disclosure in feminist therapy

Use therapeutic self-disclosure to equalize the client-therapist relationship, to normalize women’s collective experiences, to empower clients, and to establish informed consent. Appropriate self disclosure helps to decrease power differentials, is useful for supporting clients, and can be liberating.

Not just sharing information and experiences – also involves a certain quality of presence the therapist brings to the therapeutic sessions – grounded in authenticity and sense of mutuality


Describe the feminist therapy technique of gender-role analysis

Explores the impact of gender-role expectations on the clients well-being or distress and draws upon this information to make decisions about future gender-role behaviours.


Describe the feminist therapy technique: gender-role intervention

Therapist respond to clients concerns by placing it in the context of society’s role expectations for women. Aim is to provide client with insight into the ways that social issues are affecting their problem.


Describe the feminist therapy technique: power analysis and power intervention

Similar to the analysis and intervention with gender roles. The emphasis here, however, is on helping client become aware of the power difference between men and women in our society and empowering client to take charge of themselves and their life. Power analysis includes recognizing different kinds of power that clients possess or to which they have access


Describe the feminist therapy technique: bibliotherapy

Nonfiction books, psychology and counselling textbooks, autobiographies, self-help books, educational videos, and films can all be used as bibliotherapy resources. Providing client with reading material increases their expertise and decreases the power difference between client and therapist.


Describe the feminist therapy technique: assertiveness training

By teaching and promoting assertive behavior, women become aware of their interpersonal rights, transcend stereotypical gender roles, change negative beliefs, and implement changes in their daily lives.


Describe the feminist therapy technique: reframing and relabelling

Reframing implies a shift from “blaming the victim“ to a consideration of social factors in the environment that contribute to a clients problem. In reframing, rather than dwelling on intrapsychic factors, the focus is on examining societal or political dimensions. Relabelling is an intervention that changes the label or evaluation applied to some behavioural characteristic


Describe the feminist therapy technique: group work

Women’s groups, including self-help groups and advocacy groups, help women experience their connectedness and unity with other women


Describe the feminist therapy technique: social action

Therapist may suggest to clients that they become involved in activities such as volunteering at a rape crisis center, writing letters to lawmakers, or providing community education about gender issues. Participating in such activities can empower clients and help them see the link between their personal experiences and a Sociopolitical context in which they live