Women and Mental Health

By Elizabeth Howell; Marjorie Bayes | Go to book overview

Introductory Comments

ELIZABETH HOWELL AND MARJORIE BAYES

The majority of clients for mental health services are women. Women comprise more than 50 percent of clients in general counseling and psychotherapy services and 100 percent of clients for abortion counseling, rape counseling, and programs for unwed mothers. Despite the preponderance of women as consumers of mental health services, frequently used texts for counseling and psychotherapy focus no specific attention on the particular needs of women clients (Fabrikant 1974). Only a minority of training facilities make any attempt to train students to provide adequate services to women (Kenworthy 1976). The differences in clients' responses to male and female therapists are seldom discussed; most texts are written as if all therapists were male.

However, there is a growing awareness of the need for knowledge and training to counteract the prevalence of gender-role bias that often affects the treatment of female clients. This training should involve not only (1) a raising of consciousness of one's own and others' sexist attitudes and practices, but also (2) specific attention to concepts of feminine development, which have implications for treatment, and (3) attention to some of the special treatment needs of women clients, such as abortion counseling, rape counseling, and treatment for battered women. Despite the growing awareness of the need for such knowledge, and despite the general flood of literature about various aspects of the women's movement, little material is available to help therapists determine the effects of sexism in the etiology of emotional disturbance and to help them deal with the particular treatment needs of women. This book addresses these training aspects.

-xi-

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