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Gender and Treatment: How can gender stereotypes be avoided in treatment of pyschological disorders?

Gender and Treatment: How can gender stereotypes be avoided in treatment of pyschological disorders?


There are significant gender differences in the prevalence of many psychological disor- ders. In part, this is because women have traditionally been more willing than men to admit that they have psychological problems and need help to solve them (Addis & Mahalik, 2003; Cochran & Rabinowitz, 2003), and because psychotherapy is more socially accepted for women than for men (Mirkin, Suyemoto, & Okun, 2005). However, the number of males willing to seek psychotherapy and counseling has increased (W. S. Pollack & Levant, 1998). Researchers attribute this growth to the changing roles of men in today’s society: Men are increasingly expected to provide emotional as well as financial support for their families.

If gender differences exist in the prevalence of psychological disorders, are there gen- der differences in their treatment as well? In most respects, the treatment given to women is the same as that given to men, a fact that has become somewhat controversial in recent years (Ogrodniczuk, Piper, & Joyce, 2004; Ogrodniczuk & Staats, 2002). Critics of “equal treatment” have claimed that women in therapy are often encouraged to adopt tradi- tional, male-oriented views of what is “appropriate”; male therapists may urge women to adapt passively to their surroundings. They may also be insufficiently sensitive to the fact that much of the stress that women experience comes from trying to cope with a world in which they are not treated equally (Tone, 2007). Because of this, there has been an increased number of “feminist therapists.” These therapists help their female clients to become aware of the extent to which their problems derive from external controls and inappropriate sex roles, to become more conscious of and attentive to their own needs and goals, and to develop a sense of pride in their womanhood, rather than passively accepting or identifying with the status quo. Consistent with this position, the American Psychological Association has developed a detailed set of guidelines to help psychologists meet the special needs of female patients which include exposure to interpersonal vic- timization and violence, unrealistic media images and work inequities (American Psy- chological Association, 2007).

2. Your community is especially aware of the importance of preventing psychological disorders. So far, financial support has been provided for family planning, genetic counseling, increasing competence among the elderly, and educational programs aimed at reducing the use of drugs and acts of violence. From this description, it is clear that your community is putting its emphasis on

a. primary prevention efforts. b. secondary prevention efforts. c. tertiary prevention efforts.

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