The Politics of the Personal in Feminist Family Therapy: International Examinations of Family Policy

By McDowell, Teresa | Journal of Comparative Family Studies, Spring 2008 | Go to article overview

The Politics of the Personal in Feminist Family Therapy: International Examinations of Family Policy


McDowell, Teresa, Journal of Comparative Family Studies


Prouty Lyness, Anne M. (Ed.).THE POLITICS OF THE PERSONAL IN FEMINIST FAMILY THERAPY: INTERNATIONAL EXAMINATIONS OF FAMILY POLICY. New York: The Haworth Press, 2005.184 pp. $37.95 (h), $17.95 (p).

As family therapists we must carefully consider the broader social contexts which affect the lives women, children and families. This includes making ourselves aware of how social policies and government actions within and across nations create and limit possibilities, ultimately shaping experience in local and intimate spaces. Many of us share the ideal of not only being socially and politically aware, but translating that awareness into practice in our daily personal and professional lives. In reality, this can be a daunting task. We need resources that help us make these connections, enabling us to conceptualize inter- and intra-group dynamics which drive public policy and in turn govern family life. Without linking this broader level of analysis to everyday experience, it is difficult for us to recognize the potential of our practices to contribute to unjust social control or to support social equity.

As editor of this volume, Anne Prouty Lyness has invited chapter authors and readers to deeply and thoughtfully consider relationships between power and policy, effectively blurring the artificial line between what is public and what is personal. Perhaps the most noteworthy contribution of this book is that it draws international discourses together across numerous fields of study, including social policy, law, family studies, and feminist family therapy.

The Politics of the Personal in Feminist Family Therapy is organized into two sections. The authors in the first section focus on family policy from feminist perspectives. This includes an analysis of how social policy and feminist-informed family therapy are mutually informing and co-evolving within a British context; an argument for the potential of privileging the construct of interdependence to create more respectful and humane family policy and legal processes; a critique of recommendations made by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development relative to the working and overworking of women worldwide; and a comparison across countries of policies relative to care and support for the aging. …

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