My Blog

By Elizabeth Knights-Trench

WHY ALL THERAPY SHOULD BE GENDER BASED

So, it turns out there is a term ‘Feminist Therapy’ but it’s a sub-sect, rather than being standard in therapists practice; why not?

Whether we mind it or not, we live in a Patriarchal state; they run the show, they set up the major religions, structures and even codified the language (why else are most swear-words thrown at men, actually about their Mothers or female genitalia!)

My point is, it’s their puppet theatre and they are the main actors. Sometimes (and increasingly) we break into the upper ranks and there’s plenty of wonderful men helping make that happen.

However, my view is the way our brains work, the way our bodies work and our conditioning into this Patriarchal system, means we are completely different from men - and that means we have entirely different needs.

Our hormones, which affect our moods are re-grouping in a monthly cycle; something that does not happen to men. The words used to describe ambitious women, differ wildly to the words you would use on a man behaving in exactly the same way.

I could go on, with many more examples but all I want to flag up, is we do have different needs, desires, issues and priorities.

So, yes I think all therapy should be from a gender-considered point of view. We’re not taught that in our training sessions and classrooms; we’re taught tools and techniques for ‘clients’. We are taught to approach every client as an individual and to use tools and techniques to suit.

Okay, but I believe women need particular help in areas that men simply haven’t even thought about.

And that’s the real dilemma; men are so unaffected by things women face, they literally have never thought about it. An example of this is the difference parenting boys or girls. My sister (who has two boys) and I (who has two girls) are growing them up in different worlds. I spend a lot of time finding books which feature strong, feisty girls, she doesn’t even have to think about it, I spend a lot of time promoting gender-neutral toys/clothes; she doesn’t have to think about it, I spend a lot of time encouraging my girls to take their space alongside boys (instead of giving them an audience) and she doesn’t have to think about that either. Because this stuff starts in the playground……

So these ‘different worlds’ start early and don’t stop; girls obsess over their beauty, women over fertility, older women over getting old….we are caught in a lonely dance of self-loathing while men network, improve and succeed.

So when people seek therapy, I do take into account gender. I do question a female client’s narrative about her role, expectations and dependency. And then (if she wants) I work to re-fashion these more into what that boy in the playground already assumed was his.