Historical Article: The Problem of Gender in Family Therapy Theory, Rachel Hare-Mustin (USA)

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There are a few certain thinkers in Family Therapy who write seminal/critical papers that change the course of Family Therapy. Rachel Hare-Mustin is one of those people who resides at the top of this list. After reading the article please watch the VSNT.live history of change interview with Rachel Hare-Mustin.

Rachel writes: “Despite our interest in theory and innovative practice, family therapy has had virtually no impact on our culture and time. I suggest this is so because we have not provided a truly new vision of the family or a truly new way of thinking about changes in the family and society. Theories that once seemed innovative now appear conservative. Instead of looking for solutions to the basic problems of gender, we have looked for problems that correspond to the solutions we have available. Because we do not have a solution to the problem of the disadvantaged status of women, we have ignored the problem and defined it as a nonproblem. Libow (38) has aptly pointed out that we treat gender role issues like a family secret.

As Maturana has observed, every system functions to keep itself intact. Thus it is with the gender role system. Those who have sought to develop macro theory in family therapy have failed to recognize how their thinking is limited by traditional, gender-biased ways of construing the family. The discontinuous change in thinking that a macro theory would require seems beyond our capacities. Our present constructions, limited by gender role simplifications, do not admit the complexity of human experience. Our views are impoverished and therefore dehumanizing.”


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