What does Feminist-Holistic Counseling offer that traditional therapy does not?
Illness-based or Wellness based?
Traditional psychotherapy is illness-based and anchored in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual)
- Psycho-therapy is literally translated to mean the healing, treating or fixing of the psyche or mind.
- Clients viewed as sick or somehow deficient and in need of “treating” or curing by some outside authority (the counselor).
- Symptoms that clients present indicate some degree of mental illness.
- Traditional counseling is a process in which therapists diagnose the client and provide treatment based on that diagnosis.
Feminist-Holistic counseling at Full Circle is wellness-based.
- You, as a client, are not broken, deficient, incapable or sick; you have many strengths, abilities and gifts.
- Your symptoms are merely coping mechanisms that no longer work and are creating problems in your life.
- A strength-based focus helps you feel hopeful and capable of making positive life changes. And with hope, anything is possible.
- Feminist-Holistic counseling is an interactive growth-oriented process between the client and counselor. The counselor is a guide and you, as the client, are the expert on yourself. (After all, the best “authority” on you is you). And growth occurs because of your internal awareness, motivation and follow-through.
Top-down, hierarchical or interactive and empowering?
The traditional “therapist as expert model” is hierarchical and a part of our top-down medical system.
- The therapist “at the top” is thought to be the one who can best treat or cure the disease of the client.
- This system increases the power imbalance within the counselor/client relationship.
- This system dis-empowers clients by encouraging the client’s reliance on external answers and solutions.
In the Feminist-Holistic counseling model, the counselor is a guide involved in a mutual exchange with the client, who is at the same “level” as the counselor.
- The counselor intentionally works to decrease the inherent power imbalance between client and counselor and empowers you, the client, by valuing and honoring your voice and your knowledge
- Once the power balance is decreased, your intuitive wisdom, authentic voice and ability to heal are strengthened and can create rapid and lasting positive change in your life.
Diagnosis driven or relationship based?
In traditional psychotherapy, the diagnosis is central; it directs and determines the course of treatment.
- The client is clinically labeled and classified, as required by insurance companies for reimbursement purposes.
- Classification often leads to comparing to others with similar symptoms and treating clients uniformly; for example,“this is the way all clients with depression should be treated”.
In Feminist-Holistic Counseling the most essential component is the client-counselor relationship.
- While a diagnosis can be useful, a trusting, honest, supportive client/counselor relationship is the cornerstone around which every other piece of the process fits.
- Because the focus in on the client, not the diagnosis for insurance purposes, you will feel safe and supported, seen and heard as an individual with unique wants and needs within the counseling relationship.
Narrow theoretical focus or wide-angle, cultural focus?
Traditional counseling often doesn’t take into account societal power imbalances that create mental health issues for dis-empowered groups of people and result in racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, etc.
- Instead, the narrow focus is on making a diagnosis to treat the illness, assuming the client’s illness is largely of their own making.
- Therapists often “treat the client”, without helping the client see the larger societal factors related to and compounding their issues.
Feminist-Holistic Counseling uses a wide-angle cultural perspective that helps clients see and understand the power imbalances inherent in our society.
- It acknowledges that many client “symptoms” are a direct result of the inequality in our society.
- Feminist-holistic counseling empowers men and women to make positive changes in their personal lives that can ripple out and decrease inequities in the culture at large.
Mind-body split or a holistic process?
Traditional therapy is practiced within a medical system that separates the mind from the body.
- Traditional therapy is narrowed to addressing only the mind.
- Issues related to the physical body are often not incorporated into the treatment plan.
- Holistic areas of wellness (sleep, exercise, diet, stress reduction) are often overlooked or just briefly mentioned.
Feminist-holistic therapy embraces an integrative approach to healing and wellness.
- A Full Circle foundational belief is that physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health, as well as societal, political, and environmental issues are all intertwined and each impact our over-all wellness.
- Mental health, physical health, such as diet and nutrition, emotional health, relationship health and all areas of wellness are incorporated into a holistic wellness plan.
- Full Circle empowers you to care for your body, your mind, your spirit your relationships, your environment and more.
Inside or Outside the Medical Insurance-driven system?
At traditional counseling agencies, clients are given a diagnosis that remains in their permanent medical records in order to meet demands of a third party payment system (insurance company or HMO).
- Client’s treatment details may be shared as required by insurance companies
- Insurance companies control what is “covered” or reimburse-able within the counseling process.
- Insurance companies can stop covering counseling if they determine it’s no longer medically necessary.
Counseling sessions at Full Circle, within the Feminist-Holistic model, can be practiced outside the medical-model system.
- Private pay eliminates the need for insurance company involvement and interference.
- Using private pay, there is no need for diagnosis, nor any disclosure of personal information to insurance companies.
- You maintain complete control and complete confidentiality of your counseling process.