Women and Mental Health

By Elizabeth Howell; Marjorie Bayes | Go to book overview

43
Women Patients and Women
Therapists: Some Issues That
Come Up in Psychotherapy

REBECCA GOZ

Frequently in an initial interview a woman patient will request a woman therapist, but the reasons for this request are unclear, or remain broad and superficial for a long while. Many women couch their requests in the current phraseology of women's liberation, and in that movement's concomitant efforts to have women increase their contacts with other women in a variety of ways instead of primarily relying on men. "Only women can understand women," someone might say. Or "Because you are a professional, and I'm trying to become a professional, we have both probably gone through the same thing, and you can help me." Or "Seeing you gives me the hope that I too can become a professional married woman, with children, and sometimes be pregnant, and be able to do all these things at once." But what does a request for a woman therapist by a woman patient actually signify? What is that patient asking for? Is it true that in general only women can understand women? Is it the hope that the mere combination of two women will somehow supply some sort of underpinnings for a

____________________
I would like to acknowledge Roy Schafer, Ph.D., and Rosemary Balsam, M.D., who made useful comments and criticisms on earlier versions of this work.

-514-

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