Women and Mental Health

By Elizabeth Howell; Marjorie Bayes | Go to book overview

46
A Feminist Approach
to Family Therapy

RACHEL T. HARE-MUSTIN

One might well ask what family therapy has to do with feminist therapy. Have not the family and the institutions that support it been the primary cause of maintaining women in their stereotype sex roles? As feminists can readily point out, "The family has been the principal arena for the exploitation of women, and however deeply rooted in social structure that exploitation may be, it is through family structure that it makes its daily presence felt" (Chase 1977, p. 19). Chase's question, "What does feminism demand of therapy?" (1977, p. 3) is the question I would like to examine in the form "What does feminism demand of family therapy?"

In discussing family therapy from a feminist point of view, I will first briefly consider the principles of feminist therapy and review the structure of the family as we know it today. I will then discuss how family therapy has evolved. Some of the ways in which family therapy differs from the feminist approach will be examined. Finally, I will present in greater detail the ways feminist values can be translated into techniques for working with families.

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