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Title

Feminism and the practice of marriage, family, and child counseling in two California counties

Date of Award

1991

Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

Department

Education

First Advisor

Fred Muskal

Abstract

Relationships between feminism, clinical feminism, and professional characteristics of counselors were examined. A gender-proportional probability sample of Marriage, Family and Child Counselors (MFCCs) received a 3 part mail survey: (a) the Attitudes toward Women Scale (AWS) short form, measuring feminism, (b) the Feminist Family Therapy Literature Survey (FLS) assessing reading in the field, and (c) a background form eliciting characteristics of MFCCs' current practice. AWS scores did not differentiate between feminists and nonfeminists, requiring item analysis and manipulation of the factor space. The data were thus distributed between 4 categories: Strongly and Mildly Profeminist, and Strongly and Mildly Nonfeminist. The items were also reclassified for descriptive purposes relevant to today's feminism: Economic behavior, Family behavior, Legal behavior, Leadership behavior, and Social behavior. Due to almost complete ignorance of the feminist critique of family therapy, homogeneity in FLS data further contributed to ineffective Pearson correlations. It was determined that the feminist critique of family therapy has had virtually no impact on the current self-reported practice of MFCCs. Clinical feminism may be practiced by up to 5% of the sample, at least 95% retaining theoretical systems no longer useful in light of the sweeping social changes of the last 2 decades. Approximately 35% of the sample's gender-relevant beliefs were nonfeminist, a condition of fair weather feminism prevailing: feminist principles were likely to be abandoned in a clinical context. Various theoretical orientations may differentially mediate feminism. Feminist literature proportionally influenced more women than men, and a greater proportion of women were more profeminist than were men. Few MFCCs specialize primarily in family therapy, individual therapy being the preferred treatment mode. Finally, support was found for the feminist argument that it is within women's personal lives that their oppression is enacted and reproduced.

Pages

162

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