Wk 12: Feminist Therapy and an Integrative Perspective

  1. Feminism from the broader perspective
    • A theory of inclusion, creating equal opportunities
    • A critique of power structures
    • A celebration and push for increased feminisation of culture (nurturance, cooperation, relational, intuitive)
    • Identifying how social and cultural factors (e.g. traditional gender roles) can impact on the individual and the oppression they experience
    • More recently, not just a critique of gender roles, but also race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status and sexual orientation
  2. Psychological Issues through the lens of Feminism
    • Framed as psychological distress rather than psychopathology
    • –Care taken when formulating cases, diagnosing, etc.
    • –Traditional “normality” has been largely defined by white men from Western cultures
    • Until the turn of this century, gender was largely not taken into consideration in research studies, clinical trials, etc. Men were considered the norm and women were just ‘small men’
    • Issues with diagnoses: e.g. Borderline Personality Disorder
    • A recognition that the broader context (including socialisation) contributes to an individual’s difficulties, identity, goals, aspirations and Wellbeing
    • Using the bio-psycho-social model to it’s full extent
    • A shift from an intrapsychic perspective of psychopathology to an interactionist understanding/focus on social, political, cultural factors
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  3. Principles of Feminist Therapy
    • Striving for individual change and social change
    • Viewing the person as political
    • Female voices and experiences are valued and honoured
    • All forms of oppression are recognised

    • As the therapist…
    • –To be aware of our own biases
    • –To ensure an egalitarian therapeutic relationship
    • –To acknowledge the client as the expert of their own experiences
  4. Goals of Feminist Therapy continued…
    • Principles can be translated into the broad goal of EMPOWERMENT
    • What is empowerment?
    • Self-acceptance, self-confidence
    • –Living according to one’s own values
    • –Understanding the effects of socialisation on their internal and external experiences
    • Developing skills to change both one’s environment and challenge unhelpful internalised beliefs that are the result of socialisation
    • –Help both women and men recognise they can reject traditional gender roles
    • These goals can be achieved through a range of different therapeutic approaches (e.g., ACT, CBT, schema, existential)
  5. Therapeutic Techniques/Strategies
    • Assertiveness training
    • Boundaries work – e.g., Shark cage analogy (strategies for women who have experienced abuse), Personal Bill of Rights
    • Values work: Living a fulfilling Life
    • Power analysis/ social identity analysis
    • Reframing and relabeling – e.g., ‘inner critic’ technique
  6. Personal Bill of Rights
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  7. Strengths of Feminist Therapy
    Seeks to avoid the pitfalls of other traditional theories:

    –Androcentric: males being the norm

    –Gendercentric: different pathways for men/women




    • Is ‘holistic’ – seeing the individual in context
    • Egalitarian
  8. Limitations of Feminist Therapy
    Feminist therapists are value driven and thus do not take a neutral stance.

    • –Can therefore risk:
    • Value imposition
    • Advice giving

    Too much emphasis on external factors could stop client from taking responsibility
  9. Feminist therapy summary
    • Feminist therapy is based on a theory of inclusion, equal opportunities, and a critique of power structures
    • Feminist therapy seeks to shift away from intrapsychic perspective of psychopathology to viewing the individual’s distress in context (social, cultural, political)
    • Feminist therapy focuses on empowering the client through conscious awareness-raising techniques to bring about both individual and social change
  10. Psychotherapy integration
    • Integration is combining concepts and techniques from various approaches
    • Key is to find ways to integrate features from different approaches to help clients on all 3 levels of human experience (Thinking, Feeling, Behaving)
    • For decades therapists resisted integration
    • Used to be more ‘theoretical wars’ than there are nowadays
  11. Integration
    • At the theoretical level, no ‘One Truth or perfect intervention’ when it comes to the different schools of psychotherapeutic thought
    • Different therapeutic modalities have greater or lesser relevance depending upon the individual and what they are hoping to achieve through therapy.
    • An integrative therapist does not offer a 'one size fits all' approach.
    • Different people will need a different approach at different times.
  12. “Eclectic” vs “Integrative”
    • Eclectic can imply a random, non-systematic selection of techniques without any theoretical rationale.
    • Integrative therapy is characterised by looking at a variety of perspectives and how clients could best benefit
    • Majority of therapists prefer some form of integration (95.8%), meaning that they combine a variety of methods or techniques into their counselling practice
    • Disadvantages: The risk of being a “Jack of all trades and master of none”
  13. Pathways to Integration
    • Technical Integration: selecting best techniques for the individual and the problem, without having to subscribe to that particular theoretical perspective
    • - Must be systematic and must have a rationale to explain the reason for this choice of technique
    • Assimilative approach: this is remaining grounded to a particular theoretical perspective but using a variety of interventions from multiple systems, e.g MBCT
    • Theoretical Integration: this is more challenging, far more than just blending a few techniques, takes a lot of knowledge to produce a framework that synthesizes the best aspects of two or more theoretical approaches
  14. Advantages of Integration
    • No one single theory is enough
    • Can tailor individual needs to individual clients
    • Can fit a more diverse population of clients
    • Can be a more effective therapist
    • Not realistic to integrate all of the theories
    • Integration of some aspects of some theories is more realistic
  15. How to deliver in brief, flexible, thorough ways
    • More and more pressure to deliver therapy in time-limited way. Medicare funds 10 sessions per year
    • Most therapy is brief, most people only have a handful of sessions, and this is not only related to pressure, it’s often to do with client factors
    • “The simple truth is most therapy is brief therapy, for the sake of our clients and our profession, we should learn to practice it well”
  16. Are these treatments “counseling approaches”?
    • Biofeedback and Neurofeedback: The use of electronic monitoring of a normally automatic bodily function in order to train someone to acquire voluntary control of that function.
    • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) (for PTSD)
    • Transracial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS)
    • Yoga
    • Attending religious services
    • Spiritual Confessional
    • Engaging with social supports
    • Exercise plus diet
  17. What is Counselling/therapy?
    • A therapeutic relationship
    • Based on collaboration
    • Designed to enhance a client’s reflective capacity
    • Emphasises choice
    • Provides additional skills (and options)
    • A process (always will take a period of time)
    • Helps clients improve the relationship they have with themselves
  18. The factors that matter in counselling
    1.The therapeutic relationship

    –Shared understanding of problem

    –Feeling understood

    –Trust, rapport, compassion, connection

    2.Intervention used

    –The techniques used

    3.Client expectations

    –Placebo effect?
  19. Treatment approach not just 15% because
    • The treatment approach you use will impact the therapeutic relationship (30%)
    • Choosing the right approach will be based on how to best connect with the client
    • Credibility is important for a therapeutic relationship (hope = 15%)
    • The therapeutic relationship mediated the effectiveness of the techniques
    • For example, some parts of CBT use diagrams of the brain to explain concepts. This increases credibility, thereby improving trust in the therapeutic relationship, thereby meaning clients will be more likely to apply techniques, thereby improving symptoms
  20. Summary of integration
    • Not easy to create an integrative position
    • Must have an accurate and in-depth knowledge of the range of theories
    • Remain open to each theory
    • Always need to have a firm rationale for your choice of what you are doing with a client
    • Otherwise you’re taking the easiest option, being lazy and unscientific
    • Reflect on how your values, personality, life experience will influence your counselling style
  21. How to terminate counselling
    • There are many reasons clients decide to end therapy
    • Sometimes the therapist is ready to cease sessions but client is not ready
    • Important for both parties to discuss it sooner rather than later
    • Not therapeutic to stop therapy abruptly, should be a process
    • Talk about it in person not via text or email.
    • Communicate clearly
    • Termination is as important as the initial phase
    • Action plan for maintaining what has been learnt
    • Relapse prevention
    • Some kind of evaluation is really important
    • Termination of therapy doesn’t mean the door is not always open down the track for sessions in the future.
Card Set
Wk 12: Feminist Therapy and an Integrative Perspective
Wk 12: Feminist Therapy and an Integrative Perspective Understand the basics of feminist approaches and thinking Define the goals of feminist therapy and examine its features Identify the strengths and limitations of feminist therapy approaches