The therapeutic relationship: A literature review with clinical illustrations: A Foucaultian view of power within masculinity and psychotherapy

Wilson, Julian
Frommherz, Gudrun
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Master of Health Science
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Auckland University of Technology

This dissertation investigates the low participation of men in psychotherapy. It is a literature review focusing on power, masculinity and therapy, illustrated by clinical work to shed light on this phenomenon.

A Foucaultian view of power is used as the ability to influence others, and understood as separate from ideas of domination to allow power to be seen as a potentially constructive aspect of psychotherapy. Masculinity is positioned and viewed within the ideas of a Foucaultian understanding of power, and attention is given to how masculinity can be used to achieve power. Masculinity achieves this through being used in such a way that it positions itself as unseen, as invisible, as ordinary, as the natural order of things.

The understanding of power is also applied to the therapy setting to find that clients of therapy are positioned within a power structure to be seen, while the therapist remains mostly unseen. The contrast between the position of the client of therapy to be seen and the position of masculinity to be unseen allows an understanding of a conflict in the uses of power, and is suggested to contribute towards why men may not be therapy clients.

It is suggested that the therapist may have to give up the comfortable and safe position of being unseen, being expert, and being knowledgeable, to avoid therapeutic failure with men. This is done by being open with knowledge, explaining techniques and removing the pressure for the client to be seen.

This dissertation concludes that this may be a way to maintain a power relationship where the therapist and the masculinity can still interact and bring about change while allowing the male client to have choice and self-determination within the therapeutic process.

Psychotherapist , Psychotherapist and patient , Masculinity , Psychology
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