Date of Award


Publication Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name




First Advisor

Senn, Charlene,


Psychology, Clinical.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


Women's experience of psychological distress is influenced in part by unique economic, social, cultural, and political pressures associated with being female in a patriarchal society. Feminist researchers and clinicians have argued that clinical psychology has paid insufficient attention to the role of sociopolitical factors in women's distress, and claim that this oversight reinforces a patriarchal status quo that ultimately disempowers women. The present study investigated the range of ways in which a sample of 25 clinicians transformed psychotherapeutic practice in line with their perceptions of sociopolitical influences on women's distress. It also examined broad contextual factors influencing clinicians' incorporation of a sociopolitical model of women's distress in clinical work. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with therapists working within a range of theoretical orientations and occupational settings. Results were analyzed by transforming interview data into a hierarchy of themes using grounded theory techniques (Rennie, Philips, & Quartaro, 1988). Participants' appreciation of the sociopolitical underpinning of at least some of women's distress shaped their therapeutic approach in a broad range of ways. These ways pertained to the collection and evaluation of assessment data, the nature of the relationships created with clients, discussion of gender/power issues in-session, remediation of traditional gender role socialization, and the adaptation of traditional therapy techniques to help clients resolve intrapsychic conflicts associated with socialization in an androcentric world. Participants' concerns about the degree of emphasis on sociopolitical models indicated a tension between liberal humanistic values and a more critical feminist perspective. In many cases, liberal humanist rules of therapy constrained the integration of a sociopolitical analysis in clinical work. The risks and benefits of such a perspective is outlined, and therapeutic approaches which address both personal and political levels of analysis are outlined.Dept. of Psychology. Paper copy at Leddy Library: Theses & Major Papers - Basement, West Bldg. / Call Number: Thesis2002 .G48. Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 64-01, Section: B, page: 0418. Adviser: Charlene Senn. Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Windsor (Canada), 2002.