chapter  4
Feminist therapy and its discontents
Pages 18

For many years, feminism and psychotherapy have had an uneasy, at times even hostile relationship. Classic feminist texts such as Phyllis Chesler’s Women and Madness (1972), highlighted the gender bias of psychiatry. This demonstrated not only how its practice reproduced popular narratives of women, but also revealed that, in their aims to normalize, male practitioners sometimes even sexually abused their female clients. Further, Broverman et al.’s (1970) classic paper, ‘Sex-role stereotypes and clinical judgements of mental health’ made it clear that psychology’s criteria for ‘normal’ mental health were clearly biased towards characteristics deemed to be ‘masculine’. There seemed little doubt in the minds of most feminists that, far from being the ‘caring’ professions, these disciplines represented a danger to women’s mental health. This belief is encapsulated in radical feminists like Mary Daly’s (1979) reading of the word ‘therapist’, as ‘the rapist’.