The complex and many responsibilities of women lives to impact the symptoms to mental health. With these responsibilities, such as childbearing and caring and work life, cause women to have a different environment that they are expected to cope. “Many of the stressors that are associated with women and the complex and demanding roles, women seek help from mental health professionals for their woman empowerment and feminist therapy is one such help” (Jones & Guy-Sheftall, 2015). With feminism entering the family therapy field within the last decade, feminist therapy put an intersection of gender, social location, and power at the core of the therapeutic process.
With different therapeutic models, feminist therapy was essential in considering the cultural, political and social context for the contributions to a person’s problem and how these problems can be understood. “A central concept is the importance of understanding and acknowledging the psychological oppression of women and the constraints imposed by the sociopolitical status to which women have been relegated” (Corey, 2013).
Feminist therapy focuses on the individual, families, and society. The role women have been socialized with has affected their identity development, self-concept, goals or aspirations, and emotional well-being” (Bitter, 2009). The patterns of socialization have caused women to give up their power without being aware. Definition of Feminist Therapy According to Jodry and Trotman, feminist therapy is based on promoting gender and sexuality competence in psychotherapy, as well as, multicultural competence.
Feminist consciousness is to end all forms of oppression and privilege, such as sexism, discrimination, racism, classism, etc.
(2008). History of Feminist and Family Therapy Feminist Therapy has traces beginning in the late 1800s but was introduced in the second wave (1960s) of family therapy. In the 1960s during the women’s movement, Feminist Therapy laid its foundation for development. During the women’s movement, women began utilizing their voices to express the dissatisfaction of limited and confined roles from the traditional ways of cultural, social, and political context. Responding to many challenges and the emerging needs of women, Key Concepts of Feminist Family Therapy Gender is a key axis on which power is distributed, deployed, an misused in families. The patriarchy is the oldest and most dominant cultural position that is designed to maintain itself for power and privileges.
Patriarch disenfranchised everything associated with women ways of knowing and being of the world. Major schools of family therapy ignored patriarchy being that fathers were absent physically and emotionally in heterosexual families. It was the male person from the state, welfare agency, and medial who limited women to expenditures, working, and sexual activities. Key concepts formed the foundation for feminist family therapy are interrelated and overlapping. (i). Honoring the Experiences and Perception of Women: conscious-raising groups helped individual women become aware that they were not alone. This gave women opportunities to share their stories, their voices be heard, share a common fate with all women, and to reflect on personal experience to one’s position to a male-dominant culture. Sisterhood groups were formed to evolve from women’s desires to improve society included battered women, rape crisis centers, ad women’s health and reproductive health centers.
Changes occurred in therapy when women therapists participated in the consciousness-raising groups and were changed by the experiences. Therapists formed a consciousness-raising group from the same norms and realized that clients were already from a feminist view but had not been defined formally. Women’s perspectives are considered central in understanding their distress. In feminist family therapy women are encourage to value their emotions and intuition and to use their personal experiences as to what is reality. (ii). The personal is political: is the assumption that the problems that are introduced into counseling originated from social and political context. A context for marginalization, oppression, subordination, and stereotyping for women are of a gender-role socialization that is absorbed through political realities. The most fundamental tenet that lies at the core for feminist family therapy is the impact of the acknowledgment of the social and political impact of an individual’s life. Feminist family therapists focus on the biopsychosocial perspective of people’s lives.
The effects of gender-role socialization, on both men and women feminist family therapists try to transform society as well. (iii). Social Transformation and Advocacy: feminist family therapy does not only strike for the individual and families to change but for society as well. Feminist family therapist understands that Women in therapy need to focus and recognize the oppression and join other women groups to correct the wrongs they have had difficulties with. A different vision is used to free both men and women in the social constraints that are imposed by gender-role expectations. Feminist family therapists are encourage to advocate in society for change, to be politically aware and engaged, to confront discrimination, oppression, and impediments in everyday communities were it is present. Techniques and Strategies of Feminist Family Therapy Feminist Family Therapy do give any intervention, therapists fit to the clients’ strengths with empowering client to evoke their feminist consciousness. Several techniques and strategies have been developed and borrowed from traditional approaches.
The most important are consciousness-raising techniques that help women differentiate what have instilled as socially accepted and what is healthy. (i). Consciousness-raising: groups are formed where there is no leadership and allows women to speak about their ives. “This was a part of the second wave in feminism for women to gain validated voices, share personal stories and experiences, and raise awareness in multiple ways in which women have been discriminated, oppression and marginalized. This technique is used at any stage in therapy. (ii). Egalitarian Relationship: therapy is based on therapist and the clients working together to build a relationship without power differential, to focus on inclusion and to consult with clients or both the process and outcome. (iii). Empowerment: According to Corey (2013) Enns and Byars-Winston, many of the strategies of multicultural feminist therapy allows the clients to see themselves as active people for themselves and others. In the Feminist Family therapy, therapists work to balance the power of in therapy. This process begins with a consent form which is also known as an empowerment consent. It offers a place for egalitarian and collaboration. Empowerment strategy is to empower the client. (iv).
Self-Disclosure: Self-disclosure is used in therapy to equalize the client-therapist relationship that provides modeling, normalize women’s collective experiences, empowering clients, and establishing informed consent. Therapists may open up about personal information about experiences they have faced with social and cultural problems, which can be an affect for the client that is known as anticipatory empathy. Therapists are ethically committed to using self-disclosure appropriately for therapeutic processing. (v). Gender-Role Analysis: Gender-Role Analysis looks at the client psychologically and gather information for future gender-role analysis. This can be referred to social identity analysis because of the reflection of the relevant aspects if the client’s identity.
Gender-role analysis begins with the behavior of how men and women should be and how they should act. (vi). Gender-Role Intervention: When clients are placed in the context of society’s role of how women and men should be and how they should act, it can affect the ways of the unrealistic expectations about society. (vii). Power analysis: The methods used at helping clients to understand how unequal access to power and resources can influence personal realities. Self-definition and self-well being can be explored together with the therapists and clients to show inequalities and barriers are limited. This learns clients to appreciate themselves as is and gain self-confidence on a personality attributes and set goals that will be fulfilling to them. (viii). Bibliotherapy: Women often blame themselves for the abuse or problems they have suffered but through a bibliotherapy, self help books can help clients explore their reactions, increase their knowledge can decrease power differential between therapists and clients. (ix).
Reframing and Relabeling: A shift from blaming the victim to considering social factors to contributions to the clients problems. The focus is more on the political and cultural context. Changes of labeling or evaluations to behavioral characteristics that has been placed on the clients by themselves because of ideas that are not associated with feminists. (x). Social Action: Clients become more involved in the community by empowering each other and link personal experiences and sociopolitical context in which they live in. Women join activities or groups to feel more powered. (xi). Group Work: Group work for women was a way for them to get their voices heard from the experiences of oppression and powerlessness. Group work formed into a self-help groups to challenge society patterns. These groups were diverse but share a common goal, support.
These groups provided women with social network, less feelings of isolation, sharing of experience and they are not alone. The groups let women explore their self-worth. The Role of Feminist Family Therapy Because of the different psychological and therapeutic models that therapists use in counseling, the role and function will change accordingly with the client. Although gender role and power analysis is a major part in therapy with families, therapists must monitor their biases. A high value is placed on an egalitarian relationships, therapists must have an interest and purpose of that of the client. Feminist family therapy emphasizes that of women’s voices. “Most feminist therapists dep-pathologize behaviors and interactions that represent adherence to male-dominant culture imposed on female gender-role norms” ()