Acknowledging societal causes and biases when you’re a woman can be hard, especially in a field previously dominated by men. Karen Horney first coined the term, Feminist Therapy in her book, “Feminine Psychology”.
Feminist therapy is a set of related therapies that specialized in addressing gender biases, discrimination, and other stressors that affect a woman’s mental and emotional health.
Developed in the 1960s, this therapy was created to offer women a therapeutic environment, different from the previously male-dominated one, to address societal issues and problems. The therapeutic environment feminist therapy offers is misogyny-free and without sexism.
Concepts Of Feminist Therapy
There are four key concepts of feminist therapy:
- Liberal Feminism: Centered around taking back control from the restraints put on women by society
- Cultural: Believes in a more sensitive society with emphasis on feminine qualities like nurturing
- Radical: Takes a closer look at the effects of tyranny against women such as the impact of patriarchy
- Socialist: Focuses on bringing societal changes to change oppressive beliefs such as socioeconomic status, race, sexuality, etc.
Feminist Therapy Techniques
Feminist psychotherapy is the type of therapy that may utilize many sets of techniques. Where other approaches are more commanding (where the therapist leads the client), feminist therapy focuses on creating an equal relationship between you and the therapist.
Some feminist therapy techniques can be:
- Bibliotherapy: Involves suggesting reading material on common issues such as gender inequality, gender roles, power-play between genders and sexes, etc.
- Deconstructing Symptoms: Focus is on breaking down the symptoms and linking them to larger societal concerns such as anxiety about your job may be stemming from patriarchy or other societal norms
- Power Analysis: Involves you and your therapist examining different areas where power between genders affects your psyche. Not be confused with blaming society for all issues but learning about the different roles in the things you do
- Assertiveness: Focuses on teaching you about the rights you have in your relationships and how you can stand up for yourself and when its safe to assert change
- Reframing: This involves exploring the interaction between your problems and the problems of local communities to understand how it influences your decisions
Issues Feminist Therapy Can Help With
Feminist therapy can help with many issues – mental, emotional, or societal. Some of them can be:
Among other issues such as anxiety, stress, depression, etc.
The Importance Of Feminist Therapy
Feminist therapy is not only about diagnosing a condition but also actively addresses the issues in society that oppress women and other marginalized groups. The benefits and importance of feminist therapy may look a lot different from other therapies.
Feminist therapy is important as it not only addresses many mental health conditions but also helps you empower, educate, and increase your strength when it comes to independence and assertiveness.
Feminist therapy has been around since the 1960s but there is still a lot of research to be done about its effectiveness. As the feminist theory counseling does not follow a specific set of rules and approaches, it can be challenging to measure its effectiveness.
Are There Any Limitations In Feminist Therapy?
Even though women may find this therapy more comfortable and effective than other therapy approaches, there are still some limitations to feminist theory counseling that you should be aware of:
- Unspoken Biases: Biases are always present. Some we may not even be aware of such as you may have a tacit bias with the term feminism that may turn you away from this kind of therapy.
- Lacks Structure: Feminist counseling is not defined or structured as compared to other therapy approaches. If you like a structured therapy like CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), then feminist therapy may not be for you.
Before You Get Started…
Keep in mind that feminist therapy may not be for you if you’re looking for a more constructive, structured, and evidence-based therapy. However, if you’ve decided to give feminist therapy a try, here are some things to get you started?
- Finding The Right Therapist: There is no certification for a feminist therapist or counselor so it’s recommended you use filters such as feminist therapists while looking for feminist counseling.
- What To Expect: The first session of feminist counseling can look different than others. A therapist may ask you questions including your background, the reason you’ve sought therapy, or how patriarchy, misogyny, and other dominant cultures have affected you.
When you seek therapy, you’ll automatically want to seek a therapist that would allow you to be yourself and provide you with a safe space to address the issues you’re struggling with. For many women, addressing issues like misogyny, sexual harassment, etc. may not be easy to share with a male therapist.
Here enters feminist therapy. Not only does this kind of psychotherapy helps address the societal biases and discrimination you might be facing but the therapy provides you with tools to empower yourself, educate yourself, and become more assertive in your choices.
I hope this article helped you understand what feminist therapy, the techniques of feminist therapy is, how it benefits you, and what you should keep in mind before choosing feminist counseling.
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