Feminist Family Therapy ACSW 2008 Annual Conference Dr. Deborah Foster, RSW Dr. Karen Nielsen, RSW
Slides will be posted on ACSW Web site next week
Outline Development of feminist family therapy • What is feminism • What is family therapy Feminist family therapy • Philosophy • Themes • Interventions • Premises congruent with values of social work.
What is Feminism? • Radical - capitalism is barrier to ending female oppression. No alternative other than the total uprooting and reconstruction of society to achieve goals • Socialist - women being held down as a result of their unequal standing in workplace and the domestic sphere. Both must change for equality.
What is Feminism? Liberal • Equality will happen through political & legal reform Eco-feminism • Belief in the interconnectedness of all forms of life and each act effects the whole. • All forms of oppression affect us all • Two kinds of power: power over & power within. Power from within is empowerment& is unlimited & renewable. • Diversity is needed in the system to maintain stability. (true for political and economic systems also.)
The Influence of Feminism: Three Waves First Wave - Right to vote Second Wave – Right to reproductive control, equal pay for equal work, no fault divorce, gender neutral language & sanctions against marital rape Third wave –celebrate diversity; combat inequalities women face as a result of age, gender, race, sexual orientation, economic status or level of education; access to NRT for single women and lesbians
Gender Role SocializationExercise • What messages did you get about being an man/woman when you were growing up • How has your socialization influenced your practice • Assign a recorder/discuss • Be prepared to report back • 10 Mins
Family Therapy Types • Structural • Strategic • Bowenian • Narrative • Feminist
Structural Family Therapy Salvador Minuchin • Directive & action orientated • Goal: modify the present, not explore past • Goal: not symptom relief but for family to reorganize itself around a symptom • No pathologizing/ labeling of individuals • Therapist not to impose their beliefs on family • No consideration of power differential between men, women & children
Strategic Family Therapy Jay Haley • Does not address gender/power differences • Therapist responsible for influencing family • Associated with use of paradoxical techniques • Give tasks and homework • Not concerned with the past • View of dysfunction: symptoms regulate homeostasis in families; symptom is a type of behavior. Symptoms carry a function for the family
Strategic Family Therapy • The identified patient ( symptom carrier) cannot be viewed separate & apart from the family. Unless the system changes, it is difficult for the individual to change. • Insight is not needed for change to take place.
Bowenian Murray Bowen Goal for the individual to differentiate & take "I" position in family of origin Individual must stay connected to family & therapy generally involves 3 generations of family Triangulation is a key concept. Triangles are likely to develop during times of distance. In relationships, the partner who experiences the most distress will often connect with someone else as a way to gain an ally.
Bowenian • Conceptualizes togetherness and individuality as competing forces • Therapy focus on "overcoming togetherness needs and increasing individuality" • No recognition that women are relational • Therapist neutral • Does not address gender/power differences
Narrative Family Therapy Michael White and David Epstein Developed as a reaction to labelling & pathologizing of traditional family therapy Stresses a collaborative relationship with family Key concept is externalization, creates a team made up of therapist & persons united against an outside problem
Narrative Therapy • Emphasis is on victory over problems & not on problem-saturated story. • Emphasis is on uniqueness of persons, not their “deviance” • Fits very well with a feminist approach
My Big Fat Greek Wedding • As you watch the video clip, consider the socialization messages? • Who carries the power in this family?
Feminist Family Therapy • Developed in Second Wave • Rachel Hare-Mustin (1978): A Feminist Approach to Family Therapy • Application of feminist theory & values to family therapy, including personal & political • Understanding gender & power is the core of therapeutic practice • Understanding client’s problems requires a socio-cultural perspective • Societal changes & empowerment of the individual
Feminist Family Therapy • Explores way gender roles & socialization affect each individual & their relationships with one another in family system, society & within the client therapist relationship • Recognizes the unequal status of women & the reasons for that inequality • Feminist family theory is a philosophy, not just a set of techniques • Therapists help clients examine & challenge gender rules & roles
Themes in Feminist Therapy • Understanding power & control issues • Examining external forces that influence behavior • Identifying messages receive 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
Feminist Family Therapy • Egalitarian role of feminist therapist • Therapeutic alliance: Recognize power imbalance between client & therapist • Judicious use of self-disclosure to reduce power differential between client & counselor • No labelling & pathologizing • No giving interpretations • Client is “expert” on self
Feminist Family Therapy • Historically women & men have been socialized in different way. Men socialized to be task focused; women are socialized to be emotional caretakers. • Masculinity is defined through separation; femininity is defined through attachment. • Important to incorporate a gender lens when counselling couples & families. Empowerment is a key concept.
Brokeback Mountain • How do same sex relationships challenge our assumptions about male female socialization • Consider the importance of a gender lens
Empowerment Empowerment: the process of increasing the capacity of individuals or groups to make choices & to transform those choices into desired actions & outcomes.
Feminist Family Therapy • Includes male clients and male therapists • Seeks non-gendered & culturally fair ways to approach & interpret traditional psychotherapeutic theories and techniques • It looks at gender role strain for both men & women • Family seen as powerful resource for positive change • The task of therapy is to mobilize that resource
Intervention Techniques in Feminist Family Therapy • Gender-role analysis • Help family understand the impact of gender-role expectations in their relationships • Provides clients with insight into the ways social issues affect their problems • Power analysis • Emphasis on identifying the power differences in relationships, in society, and impact on family • Clients helped to recognize different kinds of power they possess and how they and others exercise power
Intervention Techniques in Feminist Family Therapy • Power issues detrimental to the family system are confronted • Feminist family therapists help clients examine and challenge rules and roles and reorganize them so that destructive patterns can change • Feminist family therapists encourage the development of inner resources and goal setting
Reframing • Turns problem behaviors into resources & conflict situations into platforms for agreement • Fundamental shift in our cultural paradigm • Encouraged & rewarded to be problem-solvers from early age • Seeing self through the filters of being a problem solver sets our perceptual filters to "scan for problems" • Life is seen primarily as a source of problems being served up so that we can maintain our status as master problem solver
Reframing • Problem solving is dominant theme in schools, psychotherapy, management & counseling • This orientation can hide from us the small successes that if noticed and nurtured, can lead to creative spirit of continuous improvement & success • An individual attitude of reframing problems into potential and opportunity is more than just “sleight of mind”. It is literally a way to change the perceptions of ourselves and others
Gaylord’s Wall • Acknowledging small successes: is it sleight of mind?
Social Work & Feminist Family Therapy Core Social Work Values and Principles Value 1: Respect for Inherent Dignity and Worth of Persons Value 2: Pursuit of Social Justice Value 3: Service to Humanity Value 4: Integrity of Professional Practice Value 5: Confidentiality in Professional Practice Value 6: Competence in Professional Practice
Core FTT Values and Principles Value 1: Respect clients' freedom to choose; emphasize development of collaborative relationships; therapy must be geared to helping the client see that she must be her own rescuer - that the power she longs for is not in someone else but in herself. Client as expert (Respect for Inherent Dignity and Worth of Persons) Value 2: The personal is political; consider problems within societal context; actively seeking to change gender injustices experienced by women and men. (Pursuit of Social Justice)
Social Work & Feminist Family Therapy Value 3: Feminist therapist seeks multiple avenues for impacting change, including public ed. & advocacy within professional organizations, lobbying legislative actions (Service to Humanity) Value 4: Feminist therapist is accountable self, colleagues & clients. (Integrity of Professional Practice)
Social Work & Feminist Family Therapy Value 5: Open agenda, informed consent; egalitarian relationship (Confidentiality in Professional Practice) Value 6: A feminist therapist will contract to work with clients & issues within the realm of her/his competencies (Competence in Professional Practice)