What is a feminist approach to counselling?
A feminist & social justice approach to therapy includes examining the following issues:
equal worth and equal rights
equal life opportunity
equal opportunity and ability to meet basic needs
reduction and possible elimination of unjust equalities
overall rights and well-being of women & children
removing barriers that inhibit people from reaching their potential
building alliances (e.g., family-school-community collaborations)
Imagine these scenarios:
A group of Junior High girls complain about having to wear “booty shorts” (very short, revealing shorts) as part of their volleyball uniform, when the boys could wear comfortable shorts. When the concern was brought forth to administration, their response was “that’s what the Olympic team wears, so that’s what the Junior High girls will wear.” A number of girls quit the team.
A group of Junior High girls complain that a number of Junior High boys are “sexting” them (i.e., asking them for topless pictures of themselves). In response to their concerns, a female teacher organizes a noon-hour “Girls Club” where the girls can talk about their feelings. When the concern was brought forth to administration, “Who is talking to the boys?”, their response was, “We don’t want to raise any prickly issues with the parents, so no one.” Further, administration responded that these were developmental issues that were outside of the educational experience, and students should be dealing with it themselves.
Can you see the social justice issues in these scenarios?
First, the girls were experiencing harassment and discomfort (gender issue). They sought to advocate for themselves, but were silenced by those in power (power issue). All they were asking for were comfortable school uniforms & to be treated with respect by their classmates (relational issue).
Was it fair that the boys could wear comfortable uniforms, but the girls were forced to wear booty shorts that made them feel self-conscious & impacted their body image & self-esteem? Was it fair that the girls were upset by sexting, but the boys were not spoken to about their behaviours? A feminist & social justice approach examines who is the marginalized group, what is their complaint and secret wish for fair & equal treatment, and what are the best practices to address the issue. I can tell you, ignoring the students concerns is NOT the answer! Listening to their voices is!
Feminism & social justice are about RIGHT ACTION.
I am commited to action to speak up for the rights of women & children, even when it may be challenging to do so. I seek to address facets of school & work environments that contribute to disrupted experiences of embodiment, helping girls & women develop a critical and social justice perspective. A feminist & social justice approach is at the heart of my counselling & advocacy work. Are you struggling with a social justice issue? I’ve got your back!