Feminist Therapy with Severe Mental Illness and Complex Trauma: A Case Example


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Feminist Therapy with Severe Mental Illness and Complex Trauma: A Case Example is a well-researched Social and Behavioral Sciences thesis/Dissertation topic, it is to be used as a guide or framework for your Academic Research.


Feminist therapy emphasizes empowerment through an egalitarian therapeutic relationship and a collaborative approach to understanding symptoms and treatment. Feminist therapy can be used with all types of clients, including those with severe mental illness (SMI) as well as complex posttraumatic stress disorder (complex PTSD) which refers to the unique presentation of those who have experienced chronic developmental trauma (Herman, 1992).

This case example focuses on a feminist therapist’s work with a young woman who has both SMI and complex PTSD, resulting in struggles across several domains. Feminist therapeutic interventions of developing an egalitarian relationship, exploration of intersectional multicultural dynamics, building empowerment, supporting community engagement, and implementing relational boundaries were utilized in her treatment demonstrating the applicability of feminist therapy when treating clients with SMI and complex PTSD.

Feminist Therapy with Severe Mental Illness and Complex Trauma: A Case Example While there is a body of literature on feminist theory and feminist interventions with clinical examples, the literature applying feminist therapy principles to clinical populations with SMI is currently limited.

Further, the literature on complex trauma is growing, yet to be fully recognized as a unique presentation, as it is still not listed as a diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-V) published by the American Psychiatric Association (2013).

Drawing on the few articles that do explore the ways that feminist therapy can be utilized with individuals who have SMI and trauma histories, this case study aims to add evidence of feminist clinical practice with a woman who has both SMI and complex trauma to this canon. Individuals with SMI and trauma are marginalized on a societal level, and this extends to the field of psychology as well.

This case study will center the experiences of Sasha, a young woman with SMI and complex trauma, and her therapeutic work with myself as her feminist therapist.

Literature Review

Adults who have a severe mental illness (SMI) are significantly more likely to have a history of interpersonal trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than the general population according to a meta-analysis that presented literature from the United States and several European countries (Mauritz, Goossens, Draijer, & van Achterberg, 2013).

The presence of a trauma-related disorder can negatively impact the course of SMI (Friedl & Draijer, 2000; Muser, Rosenberg, Goodman & Trumbetta, 2002; Mueser, Salyers, Rosenberg, Goodman, Essock, & Osher, 2004). Feminist theoretical frameworks and feminist therapy interventions can be utilized to inform the treatment of individuals who experience the comorbidity of SMI and complex PTSD.

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Thesis/Dissertation topic


Social and Behavioral Sciences

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