Do’s & Dont's - Counseling Women


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Do'S & Dont's of Counseling Women

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Do’s & Dont's - Counseling Women

  1. 1. Women & Sexism - Multicultural Counseling Summer 2012 - P. Max Quinn 1 Clinical Do’s &Don’tsfor Counselors Working with WomenDO: Gain knowledge of counseling issues pertinent to women and sexism Develop and research effective interventions based on gender-informed counseling approaches Gain awareness of your (the counselor) advocacy role in improving the situation of women Gain experience in counseling and working with women and those affected by sexism Draw knowledge from your personal experiences of working with, living with, counseling, or supporting women Obtain and become competent in knowledge of research and scholarship as it relates to women and sexism Compare and contrast your personal experiences with theoretical and research findings to better inform your practice Fully understand how gender, race, social class, disability, sexual orientation, and other factors intertwine in ways that affect social opportunities of women Understand the power differentials that may be at play within the counseling relationship o E.g., White male counseling a woman of color Gain competence and understanding of: o Women’s mental health concerns and related counseling approaches o The affect of Self-esteem in adolescent girls/women o Body image resilience and eating disorders prevention o Relational aggression and its affects of women o Violence against women o Women and life balance: Career, family, and self-care o Women and spirituality o Women in midlife Obtain and keep current resources that are related to women and their worldview Understand the intersecting personal and social identities of women. Work with female clients to enhance their awareness of the multiple personal and social identities they possess (e.g., gender, race/ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, disability, age, religion, or other characteristics). Guide clients in examining how different aspects of their identities become more salient in different situations and how the intersection of their various identities may influence their daily interactions with others Counselors should help female clients to explore the following: o What are the societal myths or labels that exist concerning this issue o What are some harmful, oppressive cultural messages you might have internalized? o Once you become aware of these influences, how can we work to identify and change some of these messages? Help women gain awareness of sociocultural forces that affect their lives and empower them to become active change agents in their own lives Regards female clients as a basically healthy person who is in need of support, empathy, and information to gain some control in their life Genuinely believe that clients are their own best experts.Work to help clients find their own answers Work to demystify the counseling process as much as possible, invite clients to question the counseling process, and work collaboratively with clients in establishing treatment goals and objectives Recognize that even when you attempt to reduce the power differential, the power hierarchy can never be completely eliminated
  2. 2. Women & Sexism - Multicultural Counseling Summer 2012 - P. Max Quinn 2 Work to help clients challenge internalized messages, so that women can learn to value these qualities as strengths Assist clients in expressing all aspects of themselves, rather than being limited to traditionally held expectations of women Help female clients learn to view gender from a holistic, strengths-based perspective Maintain cross-cultural perspectives to broaden female client understanding of the ways in which issues are affected by race, gender, class, disability, and sexual orientation o Choate, L. H. (2009, March). Girls’ and Women’s Issues in Counseling: A Theory-Based Course Design [Electronic version]. Counselor Education & Supervision, 48, 179-190. Become aware of your own gender-role socialization process Identify internalized messages and replace them with more self-enhancing beliefs Understand how sexist and oppressive societal beliefs and practices influence you and your clients in negative ways Acquire skills to bring about change in the environment Restructure institutions to rid them of discriminatory practices Evaluate the impact on social factors on the lives if you and your clients Develop a sense of personal and social power Recognize the power of relationships and connectedness Trust the clients own experience and their intuition o Corey, G. (2009). Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy (8th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson Brooks/Cole.DON’T: Make assumptions or “think you know” Make general or broad statements about what women value (each women may value different things, and you do not want to offend them or assume) DO value the female perspective: Traditionally held notions of feminine traits (e.g., empathy, intuitiveness, cooperation, affiliation) are often devalued in U.S. culture, so female clients often learn to devalue these traits in themselves (Choate, 2009) Ask too personal or intimate of questions at the onset of the counseling relationship (gauge openness of the client) Make comments on physical appearance (clothing, hair, weight loss, etc...) Make inappropriate jokes (it is very easy for good intentions to be perceived poorly) Stare at inappropriate places (rear-end, cleavage, etc...) Don’t forget: “It is essential to consider the social, cultural, and political context that contributes to a person’s problems in order to understand that person” (Corey, 2009). o Corey, G. (2009). Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy (8th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson Brooks/Cole.Understand Male & Female Privilege:Most examples of social privilege aren’t straightforward. Example of male privilege: A man has the privilege of walking past a group of strange women without worrying about being catcalled, or leered at, or having sexual suggestions tossed at him. A pretty common male response to this point is “that’s a privilege? I would love if a group of women did that to me.” And that response, right there, is a perfect shining example of male privilege. o What kind of privilege do Women have?!