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On the Shoulders of Women: The Feminization of Psychotherapy

by Ilene J. Philipson

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"While men and women used to enter the field of psychotherapy at an almost equal rate, the past 15 years have seen a drastic shift: Statistics clearly show that women are entering the mental health professions in huge numbers at the same time that the incoming number of men is on the decline. Although there has been little professional acknowledgment, it is apparent that psychotherapy is undergoing a fundamental transformation into an all-women's field. This volume presents a brilliant and impassioned analysis of this dramatic alteration." "On the Shoulders of Women demonstrates that the feminization of psychotherapy will have lasting effects on the theories guiding the work of psychotherapists within the consulting room, their views of psychopathology and human development, and even the techniques and goals of psychotherapeutic practice. In a provocative discussion, this volume reveals the ways the current paradigm shift in psychoanalysis - from drive theory to a relational model - is deeply embedded in the gender recomposition of the field. Just as women represented the "other" in the traditional Freudian paradigm, which had its roots in the patriarchal family of late nineteenth-century Vienna and was practiced largely by men, so now men may be approaching a similar status within the emerging relational model." "The author asserts that the implications of the feminization of psychotherapy go even further, transcending the boundaries of clinical theory and practice altogether. There is little question that psychotherapy is currently a field in crisis: professional publications tell of the recent "mental health care revolution," in which public and private sector funding and support for both short- and long-term psychotherapeutic care are declining rapidly. Ironically, while the prestige and financial rewards to be gained in the field of psychotherapy appear to be decreasing, the overall number of new psychotherapists has grown. On the Shoulders of Women maintains that the fate of psychotherapy and its increasingly female body of practitioners speaks to our society's devaluation of care-giving in general and women's identification with this arena of life." "Describing how the public and private sectors withdraw support and observe from a distance the single mother, the inner-city school teacher, and the woman psychotherapist, forcing each to work under increasingly adverse circumstances, the author demonstrates that the responsibility for tending to the well-being of children, the elderly, and the mentally ill has come to rest more and more on women's shoulders alone. Finally, this volume points out that what is occurring in the field of psychotherapy reveals a disturbing trend that haunts our national priorities, our collective sense of social welfare, and our deeply gendered notions of who carries out the responsibilities of tending to our emotional pain and under what conditions." "Presenting an unerringly accurate analysis of developments that will have far-reaching consequences, the book is invaluable to all mental health practitioners and those interested in women's issues. Offering a wealth of important information in a highly readable style, On the Shoulders of Women will also illuminate the work of feminist scholars, sociologists, historians, and students in these areas."--Jacket.… (more)
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"While men and women used to enter the field of psychotherapy at an almost equal rate, the past 15 years have seen a drastic shift: Statistics clearly show that women are entering the mental health professions in huge numbers at the same time that the incoming number of men is on the decline. Although there has been little professional acknowledgment, it is apparent that psychotherapy is undergoing a fundamental transformation into an all-women's field. This volume presents a brilliant and impassioned analysis of this dramatic alteration." "On the Shoulders of Women demonstrates that the feminization of psychotherapy will have lasting effects on the theories guiding the work of psychotherapists within the consulting room, their views of psychopathology and human development, and even the techniques and goals of psychotherapeutic practice. In a provocative discussion, this volume reveals the ways the current paradigm shift in psychoanalysis - from drive theory to a relational model - is deeply embedded in the gender recomposition of the field. Just as women represented the "other" in the traditional Freudian paradigm, which had its roots in the patriarchal family of late nineteenth-century Vienna and was practiced largely by men, so now men may be approaching a similar status within the emerging relational model." "The author asserts that the implications of the feminization of psychotherapy go even further, transcending the boundaries of clinical theory and practice altogether. There is little question that psychotherapy is currently a field in crisis: professional publications tell of the recent "mental health care revolution," in which public and private sector funding and support for both short- and long-term psychotherapeutic care are declining rapidly. Ironically, while the prestige and financial rewards to be gained in the field of psychotherapy appear to be decreasing, the overall number of new psychotherapists has grown. On the Shoulders of Women maintains that the fate of psychotherapy and its increasingly female body of practitioners speaks to our society's devaluation of care-giving in general and women's identification with this arena of life." "Describing how the public and private sectors withdraw support and observe from a distance the single mother, the inner-city school teacher, and the woman psychotherapist, forcing each to work under increasingly adverse circumstances, the author demonstrates that the responsibility for tending to the well-being of children, the elderly, and the mentally ill has come to rest more and more on women's shoulders alone. Finally, this volume points out that what is occurring in the field of psychotherapy reveals a disturbing trend that haunts our national priorities, our collective sense of social welfare, and our deeply gendered notions of who carries out the responsibilities of tending to our emotional pain and under what conditions." "Presenting an unerringly accurate analysis of developments that will have far-reaching consequences, the book is invaluable to all mental health practitioners and those interested in women's issues. Offering a wealth of important information in a highly readable style, On the Shoulders of Women will also illuminate the work of feminist scholars, sociologists, historians, and students in these areas."--Jacket.

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