“This is an interesting book. It may be useful for those who have not followed the debate on the experience of women in psychiatric services. It provides useful information on ways of working with more disturbed women. These are women whom psychiatric services often avoid or at least with whom they do little constructive work. The emphasis on offering therapy to these women instead of a bed in an institution was refreshing.” –Andrea Bennett in Clinical Psychology Forum How can counselors and clinicians help empower women in a sexist, racist, and homophobic society? How can they help women reclaim their bodies? Or repair their violated bond with womenkind? Taking feminist therapy one step further, this enlightening volume focuses on a central problem in our society–violence against women–and explores practical, feminist ways of working with women's responses to it: depression, cutting, splitting, troubled eating, and protest. Radical Feminist Therapy explores issues that are usually either omitted or pathologized in generalist feminist counseling texts such as women battered by their pimps, women who self-mutilate, and psychiatrized women. Other topics covered are working with lesbians; American Indian, African American, Jewish, and immigrant women; women with disabilities; working with heterosexual couples; sexual violation by therapists; and working with suicidal clients. A list of recommended readings follows each chapter. Radical Feminist Therapy addresses the needs of both students and practitioners in the areas of psychology, counseling, social work, and women's studies who desire a comprehensive, enlightening text they will refer to again and again. “Burstow's book should prove very useful as a resource for practitioners in a wide variety of areas dealing with violence against women. … The first part of the book presents the theoretical foundations; the remaining 12 chapters integrate theory and practice. Written from a well-articulated radical feminist position, the text is grounded in structuralist theory that situates problems in living within the systematic oppressions of classism, sexism, and racism. Respect for women and for their right to make their own decisions in therapy permeates the text.” –Choice “This book fills a gap in the literature addressed by no other publication I have seen. There are numerous theoretical books on feminist counseling or therapy. But I have seen nothing which moves from theory to clear, practical suggestions on what to do and how to do it when working with women on different problems. Bonnie begins by presenting a clear feminist framework in which she sees violence against women in our society as the central problem in all women's lives. She explains how this core issue plays itself out in different areas of women's lives and how it is central to the personal problems women struggle with. She then goes on to give practical, concrete suggestions about how to actually work with women in therapy. She warns readers of common pitfalls and how to avoid them. It is an extremely cohesive and useful piece of work.” –Linda Advokaat, Feminist Counselor, Sessional Instructor, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada “As a presentation of theory translated into casework, this is the best I have seen in its field–a deft integration of politics and philosophy, made relevant and workable in the chosen context.” –Counselling
Basics and Beginnings
Properly understood, feminist therapy or counseling is a highly personal and fundamentally political encounter or series of encounters between women. It is grounded in woman-woman solidarity and is dedicated to client empowerment. The counselor's job is to help sisters who have become clients with their personal problems in ways that politicize rather than depoliticize. The counselor herself is political both inside and outside of counseling. She has some understanding and is committed to furthering her understanding of how systemic oppressions combine to frame the personal problems that women face. She is aware of the centrality of violence against women, and she integrates this understanding into her practice.
An explicit premise on which feminist counseling is based is that personal problems are ...