Psychotherapists' Empathy for Childfree Women of Intersecting Age and Socioeconomic Status

By Ngoubene-Atioky, Arlette J.; Williamson-Taylor, Claudette et al. | Journal of Mental Health Counseling, July 2017 | Go to article overview

Psychotherapists' Empathy for Childfree Women of Intersecting Age and Socioeconomic Status


Ngoubene-Atioky, Arlette J., Williamson-Taylor, Claudette, Inman, Arpana G., Case, John, Journal of Mental Health Counseling


The purpose of the study was to discern the empathy ability of psychotherapists for childfree female clients with intersectional identities. Each participating psychotherapist was randomly assigned to view one of four mock video sessions with a childfree woman of varying age and socioeconomic status (SES). Psychotherapists rated their ability to empathize for the woman in their assigned mocked video. An analysis of variance revealed that psychotherapists experienced higher empathy ability for a childfree woman of younger age and lower SES than for an older and upper-SES childfree woman. Implications for research and practice are discussed.

The term childfree first emerged in the United Kingdom as an empowering outlook for the commonly stigmatizing connotation of childlessness (Bartlett, 1996). With the development and diversification of women's roles in society, the designation "childfree" now applies to many women worldwide who voluntarily choose not to become parents (Doyle, Pooley, & Breen, 2012; Engler, Frohlich, Descarries, & Fernet, 2011; Giles, Shaw, & Morgan, 2009; Tanturri & Mencarini, 2008; Yang, 2012; Zhiang & Liu, 2007). In the United States, 41.3% of women between the ages of 15 and 50 reported that they never held a parenting role, and 28.2% of women in their early 30s indicated that they never had children (U.S. Census Bureau, 2014). It is estimated that 8.2% of U.S. women opt to remain childfree, a percentage that has doubled in the last two decades (Agrillo & Nelini, 2008; Giles et at, 2009; Gold, 2013; U.S. Census Bureau, 2014). The elevated numbers of voluntarily childfree women in the United States call for attention to this specific identity and the impact of common sociopolitical practices and views, which notoriously remain pronatalist (Mollen, 2006; Moore, 2014).

Voluntarily childfree women often suffer from societal marginalization and stigma as a result of their choice and disclosure of their childfree status (Koropeckyj-Cox & Pendell, 2007; Letherby, 2002; Park, 2005). Specifically, childfree women have been viewed as materialistic, selfish, individualistic, career-oriented, less nurturing, autonomous, maladjusted, and less socially desirable (Koropeckyj-Cox & Pendell, 2007; Letherby, 2002; Whitcomb, 2012). Moreover, Koropeckyj-Cox, Romano, and Moras's (2007) interviews of college-aged students on their perceptions of temporary versus permanent childfree couples revealed that college-aged students perceived couples' temporary delay in childbearing as normal but viewed the permanent decision of couples to remain childfree as negative.

The perception of childfree women as well as the understanding of their experiences may vary based on others' ability to consider or empathize with their decisions. Empathy, or the ability to put oneself in someone's shoes, has been noted as a critical evaluator of psychotherapists' multicultural competency (Constantine, 2001). Empathy is also considered a significant factor in counseling process and outcome (Kirschenbaum & Jourdan, 2005). Concerns about the problem of psychotherapists' inability to empathize with clients' issues based on their personal values and beliefs have recently gained momentum in the mental health field (Kaplan, 2012). The American Counseling Association (ACA) Code of Ethics was revised in 2014 to insist on psychotherapists' professional responsibility of ensuring the same amount of care to each client regardless of the therapists' own personal values, beliefs, and attitudes (ACA, 2014).

Considering the salient influence of multicultural and diversity competency in therapeutic process and outcome (Kaplan, 2012; Mohr, Weiner, Chopp, & Wong, 2009; Tredinnick & Fowers, 1997), it becomes imperative to examine psychotherapists' capacity for empathy, particularly in relation to women's choices around childbearing and childrearing. The literature, however, is scarce in this area. …

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

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
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

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

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Psychotherapists' Empathy for Childfree Women of Intersecting Age and Socioeconomic Status
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?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
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.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, 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." (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

    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.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.