Feminist Therapy and Male-Sensitive Psychotherapy are Gender-Sensitive Therapies. Feminist Therapy is rooted in the women's movement of 1970s and postulate that women have been denied equal social, economic and political rights and voice in the society, creating a power imbalance (Prochaska & Norcross, 2014).
Theory of Psychopathology
Feminist therapists believe that from the first day of life, a person's identity and personality is deeply influenced and built in response to social environmental rules, gender expectations, gender-roles and gender-based discrimination (Prochaska & Norcross, 2014). Psychological distress and pathology are developed when the relationships are unbalanced and the social structure does not allow the person to choose and grow (Prochaska & Norcross, 2014).
For instance, our society is constantly displaying stereotyped messages through the media, educational, political systems and religious institutions, leading women to internalize distress and men to externalize it (Prochaska & Norcross, 2014). Thus, the women's suffering is demonstrated in her isolation and development of a false sense of self (Prochaska & Norcross, 2014). When the women try to achieve a different place in society by having a work life, getting a job in places where they may earn less than men and suffer harassment, they find themselves overwhelmed and fall in depression as partners are unwilling to share parenting and household responsibilities (Prochaska & Norcross, 2014). Women must then, study, work full time and still care for their family, house and children's needs, accumulating multiples roles as a mother, student, worker, and wife (Prochaska & Norcross, 2014). Many women become hopeless and give up they dreams. Mothers, then, continue been described by what they are while fathers are described by what they do (Prochaska & Norcross, 2014). The housewife work has absolutely no value, while the men work has a salary and social recognition making it hard for women to keep high self-esteem (Prochaska & Norcross, 2014).
Violence against women increases day by day with devastating consequences for the women, families and society (Worrel & Remer, 2002). In Australia, 1 in 3 women are suffering domestic violence and those who can scape of that must face unspeakable challenges in order to reconstruct their lives (Prochaska & Norcross, 2014). Research shows that sexual abuse in childhood lead to eating disorders, substance abuse, post-traumatic disorder, complex-trauma, and dissociative disorders (Prochaska & Norcross, 2014).
The therapeutic process and relationship
The therapeutic process in feminist therapy is based in facilitate awareness, ability to choose and make informed and individualized decisions, development of personal skills and ability to take actions according to what they really want, rather than to please family and society expectations (Prochaska & Norcross, 2014).
The therapist must constantly exam their gender stereotypes and biases (Prochaska & Norcross, 2014). They provide emotional support, psycho-education, and use self-disclosure as a technique to empower clients to be responsible, autonomous, self-confident, have control over their own lives, a balanced intimacy and sexual life with their partners, establish relationships with equal rights (Brown, 2004).
Feminist therapists advocate for their client's rights and testify in court on behalf of them (Goldember & Kremer, 1990).
PACFA Reg. Provisional 25212
ABN: 19 476 932 954
Worrel, J. & Remer, P. (2002). Feminist perspectives in therapy: Empowering diverse women. New York: Wiley.
Brown, L. S. (2004). Subversive Dialogues: Theory in feminist therapy. New York: Basic.
Prochaska, J. O, Norcross, J. C. (2014). Systems of psychotherapy: A transtheoretical analysis. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole. Cengage Learning.