feminism beliefs as stated by Enns and Hackett (1993). Both liberal and radical feminist approaches entail the social and political realms of the society as environmental influencing problems of an individual. Nonsexist- humanistic approach adopts more of an individual-based process in counseling. As liberal and radical feminist approaches in counseling are deemed more credible and appealing to those who seek counseling, the challenge is to bring a more humanistic value to the idealism of feminist counseling.
It is important for feminist counselors to determine appropriate counseling methods and evaluation processes which determine the underlying factors of problems arising from social and political influences within the society, and integrating the humanistic value to promote personal growth and development. Feminist Approaches: The Humanistic Nature in Counseling Enns and Hackett (1993) in their study comparing women’s and men’s reactions to non-sexist and feminist approaches to counseling provided a brief definition on the three different feminist theories adapted in counseling.
The three are liberal feminism, radical feminism, and non sexist- humanistic. Feminist theories and counseling approaches The liberal feminist approach is embedded in the liberal feminism theory. Fundamentally, liberal feminism aims to uphold women from the oppressive and patriarchal gender roles existing in the society. In a male-dominated society, women are characterized with roles in which they are expected to live their lives. Two main frameworks in the liberal feminism theory is defined as classical and welfare liberalism.
Classical liberal feminist endure the challenge by attempting to eradicate gender discriminatory laws and policies which entitles women to their respective roles in the society, thus stressing the equal opportunity for women to compete with men. While welfare liberal feminist’s objectives concerns society awareness on the right for women to be compensated for past injustices, and consequently eradicating the socio-economic and legal barriers which hinders women development.
Radical feminism as defined by Enns and Hackett (1993) is the philosophy emphasizing the roots of inequality through social dominance of men in the society. It is a strongly held belief against patriarchy which divides rights, privileges and power based on gender. Radical feminist theory determines this situation as the main cause of women oppression in the society. The concept of patriarchy is emphasized and challenged in the radical feminism perspective however, as this belief developed over the years, it has evolved by involving the concept of sexism.
Radical approaches to promote feminism include emphasis on the goal to establish separation from men, and eventually the superiority of women over men. In this context, radical feminism is contrasted with the value of humanism and deemed anti-humanistic as a belief, thus creating more sexist situations that eliminating them. In efforts to change that belief, feminism further evolved into adopting a nonsexist-humanistic approach.
The nonsexist-humanistic approach, feminism becomes more individual based, rather than understanding the philosophy in context of social and political factors. Feminism approaches to counseling The three defined theories influence different counseling approaches. Enns and Hackett (1993) related these theories by the different counseling approaches of their subjects in the study. Liberal feminist counselors adopt a method by which they focus on individual strategies.
They encourage clients to eliminate gender-dictated roles by determining their social influences, and how to expand their personal options for growth and development. Radical feminist counselors aims to integrate both philosophical and practical radical feminism approaches in their clients by determining common themes and choices of women, and building on a strategy to encourage and empower women to participate in social mobilization and development.
Radical feminist counselors are more likely to encourage participation of client to communicate or express their desire of free equity despite gender differences. Among the three, the nonsexist-humanistic feminist counselors do not place emphasis on social factors influencing personal change, or perceive gender as any more relevant to counseling (Enns and Hackett, 1993). Their approach to counseling entails more on the personal growth of the individual through techniques and behaviors relieved of bias.
Perception of counselors In Enns and Hackett (1993) study, respondents perceive liberal and radical feminist counselors as more trustworthy, expert, and helpful, than the nonsexist-humanistic feminist counselors. They also indicated that they are more willing to approach liberal and radical feminist counselors in terms of sharing and consulting their personal and interpersonal concerns. Counseling practice and method The feminist approach in counseling holds two major assumptions.
First, personal problems are either related or influence by the political and social realms of the society. These environmental factors constitute the problems being addressed during counseling. The second assumption entails that the emergence of problems and symptoms is a form of method when an individual attempts to cope with, struggle, and survive in such oppressive and negative circumstances. This includes personal challenges against racism, sexism, and heterosexism.
In a feminist approach in counseling, therapists believe that a woman’s body and role in the society may increase women’s vulnerability towards societal problems such as different personality issues and gender issues (Capuzzi and Gross , 2003). Both men and women are influenced by societal-gender role expectations which ultimately dictate how they should act and live in modern society. Through these limiting expectations, methods could be applied on clients to emphasize that such expectations must be changed at the individual level.
It is essential for a feminist counselor to find the convergence between the social and cultural context which contributes t individual problems, and how to orient counseling goals to seek societal change. References: Capuzzi, D. , and Gross, D. R. (2003). Counseling and Psychotherapy: Theories and Interventions Third Edition. Prentice Hall, New Jersey. Enns, C. Z. , and Hackett, G. (1993). A Comparison of Feminist and Non-feminist Women’s and Men’s Reactions to Nonsexist and Feminist Counseling: A Replication and Extension. Journal of Counseling and Development, 71 (5), p499-509.
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