Sexism in Family Therapy: Does Training in Gender Make a Difference?

By Leslie, Leigh A.; Clossick, Michelle L. | Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, April 1996 | Go to article overview

Sexism in Family Therapy: Does Training in Gender Make a Difference?


Leslie, Leigh A., Clossick, Michelle L., Journal of Marital and Family Therapy


The purpose of this study was to investigate the clinical decision making of marriage and family therapists who had no training in gender compared to those who had such training, either through a separate course or by having gender issues integrated throughout the curriculum. Specifically, levels of feminism and sexism in the clinical assumptions and interventions of therapists were evaluated using clinical vignettes. Participants for this study included 150 beginning or entry-level therapists from marriage and family therapy training programs in academic settings. Of the 102 participants with some training in gender issues, 64% reported having received gender training from a feminist perspective, Contrary to expectations, a multivariate analysis of variance revealed that training in gender issues alone did not significantly influence levels of feminism and sexism in clinical decision making. However, the levels of sexism in clinical interventions were significantly lower if therapists had received gender coursework from a feminist perspective, whether in a separate course or integrated throughout the curriculum. These findings raise a question as to the utility of teaching gender issues if what is taught and how it is taught are not also considered.

No observer of the field of family therapy in the last decade could escape the widespread call by feminists to rethink and revise our assumptions and models for working with families. Specifically, the call has been to recognize gender as a central organizing feature of family life and to challenge traditional ways of working which ignore, and therefore reinforce, gender-based power imbalances (Luepnitz, 1988. Along with the call to revise how gender is addressed in the way we work has come the call to incorporate gender as a critical substantive area in the training of family therapists (Avis, 1989; Weiner & Boss, 1985).

Studies of the content of family therapy training programs in the 1980s confirmed not only that it was rare for gender issues to be addressed systematically (Avis, 1989), but also that training directors arid supervisors did not see it as a particularly important content area to include in clinical training (Winkle, Piercy, & Hovestadt, 1981). In light of data such as these, the calls of feminists to address gender, and the recognition that all other major professional disciplines had established training and practice guidelines to ensure nonsexist practice (e.g., APA in 1975, Council of Social Work Education in 1982), the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education and Training revised its Accreditation Manual in 1988 to require all AAMFT approved programs to offer coursework in gender issues relative to the practice of marriage and family therapy.

Although the incorporation of gender training in family therapy curricula was a major shift, the guidelines presented in the Manual on Accreditation (1991) do not actually spell out what the shift is to. It is noteworthy that only three content areas, sexuality, sexual functioning, and sexual identity, are specified as required material to be addressed in gender training. Given the extensive literature documenting how gender organizes all aspects of life for women and men, from communication patterns to division of labor to use of leisure time to physical safety, it is striking that sexuality would be so prominently emphasized as a major focus of gender training. Such guidelines do little to assist faculty in developing courses which convey a rich appreciation of the influence of gender in peoples' lives.

In addition, the objective or goal of such a significant change in curriculum requirements was not clearly articulated. The accreditation guidelines state that "content in this area

gender issues

should emphasize sexism and gender role stereotyping" (Manual on Accreditation, 1991, p.15), implying that training in gender is intended to reduce sexism in clinical practice. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Sexism in Family Therapy: Does Training in Gender Make a Difference?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.