Women and Mental Health

By Elizabeth Howell; Marjorie Bayes | Go to book overview

50
A Decade of Feminist
Influence on Psychotherapy

ANNETTE M. BRODSKY

In 1963, as the first female clinical psychology intern in the U.S. Army, I was assigned a forty-year-old woman client who refused to accept me as her therapist because I was younger than she, and a woman. She was convinced that she was assigned to the lowly female intern because her husband was only a sergeant. Her parting words as we aborted our tenuous relationship were something like "I'm a difficult case, honey. It's not your fault. I hope someday you'll be another Joyce Brothers."

On the other hand, recently a woman client peeked into my office after leaving our initial session and commented, "You know, I'm glad you're a woman. I don't think I could be as honest with a man. I would be worrying too much about whether or not he approved of me."

These two comments reflect more than differences in personality, age, marital status, or some unknown variable. They reflect almost two decades of change in attitudes toward women in positions of authority. They also reflect a change in knowledge of women's roles in society. Individual women may not have made the personal changes that the women's movement has fostered, but they are aware of the potential for such changes and have a sense of where they fit in. Instead of seeing themselves as "difficult cases" that only a strong man can handle, they are more receptive to being independent of men and working with other women.

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