DESCRIPTION & KEY CONCEPTS OF THERAPY

The key concepts of Feminist Therapy are listed below:

  • Problems are viewed on sociopolitical and cultural context
  • The client is the expert and knows what is best for her life
  • The client is educated about the therapy process
  • Traditional concepts of assessing psychological health may be challenged
  • Individual change may best occur through social change
  • Clients are encouraged to take social action

GOALS OF FEMINIST THERAPY

  • Equality
  • Independence
  • Empowerment
  • To become self nurturing
  • Value diversity

FOUR APPROACHES TO FEMINIST THERAPY

There are four main philosophies of feminists with differing goals in therapy including socialist, radical, cultural, and liberal.

  • Socialist feminists emphasize their major goal of therapy is to transform social relationships and institutions. These feminists pay close attention to ways that work, family roles, and education that will lead them where they want to be.  They believe that solutions to society’s problems must include a consideration of class, race, and other forms of discrimination.
  • Radical feminists focus on the need for change in men / women relations and equalizing power in societal institutions such as women working in jobs previously only held by men by using activism. These feminists identify and question the many ways in which men dominate their every aspect of life.  In addition, they strive to increase women’s self awareness in regards to her sexuality and her desires and views for having children. This term refers to the feminist movement that sprung out of the civil rights and peace movements in 1967-1968.  The reason this group gets the “radical” label is that they view the oppression of females as the most fundamental form of oppression, one that cuts across boundaries of race, culture, and economic class. 
  • Liberal feminists focus on helping women remove the barriers presented by gender role socialization patterns. These feminists are concerned with the removal of these barriers that prevent equal opportunities for men and women. The major goals of therapy include empowerment, dignity, self fulfillment, decision making, and equality for women.
  • Cultural feminists emphasize the importance of the recognition that women are devalued in society and how detrimental this is. These feminists believe the solution to this dilemma can be helped by the feminization of society so that all genders become more nurturing, intuitive, and cooperative towards each other.

In the 1990’s, new feminist theories have evolved such as postmodern, women of color, lesbian, and global which is called the 3rd wave of feminism.  It is easy to see that there is no unified feminist theory and can be quite confusing as explained below:

  • Postmodern feminists look at different traditional and feminist approaches and address the reality of those models by proposing multiple solutions instead of just one.
  • Women of Color feminists believe the theory should be broadened to include them instead of being included in the experiences of White women as their culture can be quite different.
  • Lesbian feminists share many ideals with Radical feminists such as women be oppressed. They feel left out by heterosexual feminists who do not understand how they feel discriminated against.
  • Global international feminists look at all the different ways in which racism, sexism, economics, and social class affect women around the world.  These feminist try to understand how each countries cultural differences and beliefs can affect a woman’s quality of life.

THEMES IN FEMINIST THERAPY

  • Understanding power & control issues
  • Examining external forces that influence behavior
  • Identifying messages received 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

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