First Advisor

Lynn Thompson

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work




Feminist therapy, Mental Health--Women, Women therapists



Physical Description

1 online resource (315 p.)


This thesis describes a study designed to explore the emerging field of feminist therapy. The goal was not to test the validity of feminist therapy, to probe the assumptions on which it is based, or to compare it to other forms of therapy but to characterize the theory and practice of feminist therapy as it now exists. Feminist therapy was seen as growing out of the cultural and historical context of the feminist movement, which includes a critique of society with emphasis on the particular psychological consequences for women, and a critique of psychotherapy, particularly Freudian psychotherapy, as oppressive to women and adhering to a double standard of mental health. The field of mental health responded to these criticisms, and feminism simultaneously began a search for alternatives to therapy, Out of both developed feminist therapy. The literature, both in the field and in the alternative press, was reviewed to present a picture of the development of feminist therapy and to highlight issues to pursue in the research itself. Following this review, a study was undertaken of feminist therapists in three metropolitan areas on the West Coast--Portland, Seattle, and the Bay Area--utilizing a qualitative methodology to gather descriptive data and potential patterns for analysis. A natural network approach was utilized to generate the population, following much the same process a woman would go through in locating a feminist therapist. Potential feminist therapists were surveyed via a questionnaire. Self-identification as a feminist therapist was the primary criteria for inclusion in the sample frame. A random sample of 20 percent of the sample frame (20 feminist therapists) was interviewed, and the results transcribed and thematically analyzed to answer five questions:

1) Who are the feminist therapists?

2) How do feminist therapists define feminism?

3) What is feminist therapy?

4) How does feminist therapy perceive and incorporate therapeutic issues?

5) How does feminist therapy perceive and incorporate feminist issues?


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