This is the most fundamental principle in the theory as it is based upon the assumption that personal and individual problems originate from a political and social context. For women, there is often a context of marginalization, oppression, subordination, and stereotyping (Corey, 2017). Commitment to Social Change Feminist therapies have a goal to not only create individual change, but also to create social change. The belief that direct actions taken to create social change is one of the main responsibilities of feminist therapists and a distinct feature of feminist therapy (Corey 2017). When feminist therapy counselors work with rape victims, they will also do social justice work to bring awareness and education society on rape culture to create social change. It is also important for clients to not only recognize the aspects of society that marginalizes them, but also what gives them privilege and how that privilege affects their lives (Corey, 2017). The goal is to free both women and men from the constraints society places upon their gender, class, ethnicity, religion, and more. The importance of not only individual change, but action towards social change is what distinguishes feminist therapy from others (Corey, 2017). Marginalized Voices are Valued While traditional therapies have an androcentric, heterosexist way of being weaved into White, middle-class, heterosexual values that describe women and other marginalized groups as deviant, feminist therapy replaces that patriarchal way of thinking with a feminist social justice consciousness (Evans & Miller, 2016). Clients are encouraged to tell their own stories and determine their reality based upon personal experience. Women and other marginalized groups
THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK 7 are able to contribute a great amount to the world in many facets when their voices are acknowledged (Corey, 2017). Egalitarian Counseling Relationship The egalitarian counseling relationship is vital to feminist therapies. The counseling relationship should be filled with authenticity, mutuality, and respect between both counselor and client. There is recognition of the imbalance within the counseling relationship by the counselor attempts to shift the power to the client and away from the counselor (Enns, 2004). Focus on Strengths Feminist therapy does not always coincide with diagnostic labeling or the disease model of mental illness as psychological distress is reframed as a communication about the unjust systems. Instead of focusing on diagnosing mental illness and treating it according to a medical, diagnostic, or disease model, feminist therapy reiterates the fundamental core principal that the personal is political (Brown, 2010). Feminist therapy focuses on life and coping skills rather than the pathology of mental illness (Enns, 2004).
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- ........., Feminist theory