An Exploration of Feminist Family Therapists' Resistance to and Collusion with Oppression

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Virginia Tech


In this study, I explore the ways in which feminist family therapists encourage exploration of, resistance to, and collusion with, oppression. I explore qualitatively the critical dialogues, both inner, and with others, that feminist family therapists employ to address oppressive systems. My research questions are: a. How do family therapists who identify as feminist describe how their feminist identities and ideas about feminism have evolved over time? b. How do feminist family therapists report stories of their own resistance to gender-based oppression? c. How do feminist family therapists report stories of their own collusion with the oppression of others? And d. How do feminist family therapists encourage clients to examine oppression and collusion of oppression of others? I use tape-recorded, one-on-one interviews with a theoretical sample of self-identified feminist participants who have demonstrated rigorous attention to feminist inquiry and practice in the field of family therapy. Consistent with a contemporary grounded theory methodology, generation of theory is based on constructivist methods, which recognize that there are multiple coexisting realities and not one objective truth (Charmaz, 2000). By way of constructivist grounded theory analysis the following four categories emerged: (a) Actions and Strategies of a Feminist Family Therapist, (b) It's a Sensibility: The Development of a Feminist Identity, (c) Recognizing Oppression and Injustice: A Quest for Liberation and (d) Resisting: Exploring Why, How, and at the Risk of Which Consequences.



resistance, oppression, collusion, feminist family therapy