chapter  17
18 Pages

Women at a Turning Point: A Transformational Feast

ByDEBBIE FEINSILVER, EILEEN MURPHY, HARLENE ANDERSON

Th e provision of culturally appreciative and sensitive services unique to participants’ expressed needs has increasingly become a priority for therapists, educators, and researchers. Th is is our story of a project in which we sought to access the voices, unique experiences, competencies, and needs of women identifi ed as “homeless”—most with histories of substance abuse and domestic violence that included prison, prostitution, and poverty. We wanted to learn about the women’s lives, self-identities, and histories from their fi rst-person narratives. Specifi cally, we wanted to learn about their experiences of prior treatment, and use what we learned, along with them, to cocreate personalized tailored counseling services to maximize the opportunity for successful outcomes. Our story highlights and interlaces how we used our collaborative and conversational approach to position

ourselves as learners to invite the women’s expertise, understandings, and meanings concerning their lives-past, present, and future. Th rough the relationships and process, the women moved from a defi cit discourse to one in which they found new possibilities for their identities and their lives. Our story is based on the collective memories of our experiences and relationships with the women.