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Feminist Therapy


Written by Laura S. Brown

Reviewed by Amal Rohail

As a constituent of the American Psychological Association (APA) Theories of Psychotherapy Series, the second edition of Laura S. Brown’s Feminist Therapy highlights the contemporary model of feminist psychotherapy as well as its history and context. She additionally informs readers how feminist therapy is utilized in practice and evaluates its practicality.

Dr. Brown divides the book into seven chapters that collectively synthesize feminist therapy into one coherent model. She begins with the origins of feminist therapy and then delineates stages of its conceptual development by time period, enabling the reader to understand the evolution and dynamic nature of feminist therapy, and its ties to contemporary political climate. It is then further contextualized with the theory that guides the model, illuminating concepts that shaped feminist therapy into its modern confrontation with patriarchal power, privilege, and oppression. Dr. Brown also applies the theory to the therapy process, using case studies from her actual practice. Finally, she summarizes related evidence-based research, and acknowledges that this young model has much room for future development.

A notion refuted early on and continually referenced is that feminist theory is exclusive to cisgender females. Dr. Brown clarifies that “feminist therapy is practiced by people of all genders, with every possible type and configuration of client,” (9). This elucidates the practicality of feminist therapy because it frames it as being applicable to everyone.

The bulk of the book is focused on the theory behind feminist therapy, which is essential in understanding the fundamentals of feminism and how notions of gender, identity, distress, and power can play out in society and within therapy. Because there is no single founding scholar of feminist theory, Dr. Brown’s in-depth discussion of theory is critical in grasping its wide scope.

Another strength of the book is Dr. Brown’s integration of case studies in the description of the therapy process. Without the inclusion of these examples, the text would be too theoretical for practical application. This section of the book is integral to its success as a pragmatic model of therapy.

This book appeals to a wide range of readers because it discusses principles that are applicable to people from all walks of life. Feminist Therapy successfully presents a comprehensive understanding of feminist therapy as a stand-alone model of psychotherapy that is constantly improving and evolving.

Laura S. Brown, PhD, is a practicing clinician and forensic psychologist in Seattle and has served on the faculties of Southern Illinois University, the University of Washington, and the Washington School of Professional Psychology. She has received numerous awards, including the Distinguished Publications Award of the Association for Women in Psychology, APA’s Award for Distinguished Professional Contributions to Public Service, the Sarah Haley Memorial Award for Clinical Excellence from the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, and the Carolyn Wood Sherif Award from the Society for the Psychology of Women.

Amal Rohail studies Global Public Health and Anthropology with a focus on Chemistry and Chinese at New York University, where she is expected to graduate in May 2020. She is on the premed track and has conducted research regarding hepatic encephalopathy and hepatitis C. In addition to working for SPT, she writes reviews for the International Journal of Psychotherapy.

Brown, L. (2018). Feminist Therapy, 2nd Edition. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. ISBN 978-1-433-82911-6.
Available in paperback and eBook.
Paperback. 188 pages. Includes references, index, and DVD with psychotherapy resources.