Feminist Family Therapy (Part 2): Core Assumptions – The Family Therapy Blog
THE EGALITARIAN RELATIONSHIP IN FEMINIST THERAPY. Jill Rader and Lucia Albino Gilbert. The University of Texas at Austin. Feminist therapy has. Feminist therapy is a set of related therapies arising from what proponents see as a disparity An egalitarian relationship (a relationship in which the participants have equal status) between therapist and client is key in feminist therapy. Feminist therapy seeks to be gender neutral and egalitarian. Fourth, feminist therapy always aims to establish an egalitarian relationship.
If the client has insurance, the diagnosis hopefully is one that the insurance company will accept. If not, the therapist faces the common dilemma of deciding whether to assign a DSM diagnosis that will enable the client to get insurance reimbursement.
Many therapists will do this simply to enable the client to get reimbursement — not because the diagnosis is in any way helpful with the exception of training in a clinical program setting. This situation is the sad reality of managed care and the rigid application of the medical model to the helping professions, which is mostly the case in the United States.
Clients assume that they will be fixed and will achieve emotional healing as a result of their relationship with a therapist; that is why they sought therapy in the first place. Coaching clients, on the other hand, seek a coach for a myriad of reasons, most of which relate to their future.
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New clients usually do not come because they have a major problem — certainly not a major psychological one. They are not coming with a dysfunction and typically are not coming in pain. Economists call this category of people the worried well. They just want more out of some aspect of their life and assume that by working with a coach, they will achieve greater success in planning, setting goals, and creating the life of their dreams.
If a client with a major psychological problem comes to see a life coach, the appropriate action is to refer that client to a qualified therapist. Coaches need to be proficient at recognizing appropriate and inappropriate coaching clients, as well as the ethical guidelines of maintaining both a therapy and a coaching practice. The reverse is mostly true as well, but a therapist may do coaching with a former therapy client as long as there is a ritual ending of the therapy relationship and the new coaching relationship is begun formally and clearly.
Therapists who have added a coaching niche to their business also maintain a list of qualified therapists for referrals. Likewise, therapists sometimes refer clients to life coaches when they have resolved their therapeutic issues and are ready to move forward with their life design and plans.
Characteristics of the helper-client relationship The coaching relationship is egalitarian, collegial, and balanced, and has the flavor of an active partnership. Life coaches assume that clients hold the necessary knowledge and the solutions; the coach simply helps unlock their wisdom. Consider this dialogic difference between therapy and coaching clients. There is not a power differential per se in coaching.
Good coaches make a conscious effort to keep the relationship balanced. If you were to observe a coaching session, you would see that it is typically very open — often friendly, casual, and light.
Life coaches laugh with their clients and, when appropriate, may even joke or gently tease. With caution, life coaches may feel comfortable sharing personal experiences that are pertinent to what the client is experiencing.
- Feminist Therapy
- Co-therapy as an egalitarian relationship.
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Clients and coaches feel as though they know each other on a deeper level than may be the case in many other professional relationships, and many coaching clients report that they appreciate that openness.
At the same time, coaches are professionals and should act accordingly. The collegial nature of the relationship between coach and client in no way lessens the importance of abiding by ethical and professional guidelines.
How you generate new clients Therapists who add coaching to their business quickly notice the lack of stigma attached to attracting new coaching clients.
Identifying yourself as a professional coach in a social situation is much easier than stating you are a therapist. In contrast, it is much easier to build visible and supportive relationships with other professionals for referral to your coaching business, and it is also much easier to speak publicly and without stigma about what you do.
If you have been trained as a therapist or counselor, much of what you have learned will serve you well as a life coach. Listening skills, reframing, positive regard for the client, note taking, and process skills are just a few of the transferable skills.
When Deb Davis, a colleague, teaches workshops, she describes changing therapeutic assumptions to the coaching perspective as analogous to resetting the default buttons on a computer. Therapists have been trained to function from a certain operating system. You have all the basic skills but need to adjust the context in which you use them. Rather than the problem being intrinsic to the person. In feminist therapy, we work diligently to foster an egalitarian relationship.
This is the idea that you are the best expert of yourself and your problems. This includes analyzing how the social construction of gender has influenced the problems they are bringing to therapy — if at all. We may look at how power, unequal power, or the abuse of power impacts your well-being and capacity to thrive.
Feminist therapy is particularly useful when considering experiences of inequality, race-based or gendered traumas, such as domestic and sexual violence. It looks at individual experience, emotional and mental health as a response and reaction to sociopolitical oppression rather than a maladaptive choice. I believe that individualism to the point of isolation which a patriarchal, capitalist society promotes leads to many of the challenges we live with as individuals and as a community.
I work with clients to heal through connection, and finding more intimacy that feels comfortable to them. Therefore, I incorporate feminist theories and philosophies into my work.
I think it is integral to therapy to look at the impact of oppression on mental health and feminist therapy helps me do this.