Female psychotherapists’ experience of working with traditional male clients

No Thumbnail Available
Kirwan, Amy Louise
Issue Date
BA (Hons) Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
Items in Esource are protected by copyright. Previously published items are made available in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher/copyright holder.
This research set out to explore the experience of female psychotherapists’ working with traditional male clients. It sought to discover the therapists’ preconceptions about this client group. This research also endevoured to discover how, if at all, erotic transference and countertransference impacted upon female psychotherapists’ work with traditional male clients. This was considered through the areas of gender stereotyping and male gender roles, male emotionality, psychotherapist gender competence and erotic transference and countertransference. A qualitative research method was employed for this study. Central to this was the carrying out of semistructured interviews with a purposive sample of five fully accredited female psychotherapists. The therapists’ orientations included Humanistic, Integrative and Psychodynamic. The interviews elicited the participants’ experiences, feelings and thoughts on the topic. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and subsequently subjected to a thematic analysis. Three themes arose: female psychotherapists’ experience of their traditional male clients, female psychotherapists’ work with their traditional male clients and female psychotherapists’ experience of erotic transference and countertransference with their traditional male clients. The findings were somewhat in keeping with the material found in the prevailing literature on the topic. The results demonstrated conflicts between the requirements of psychotherapy and traditional male gender role constraints. Dissimilarities were found between how traditional men manage stress and also how they express emotion in comparison to female clients. The majority of the participants reported that they alter their approach when working with their traditional male clients. Participants identified straight - talking as most helpful in their work with this cohort of men. Expectations on behalf of the therapist, that their client reveal emotions readily, were reported to be least helpful. Only two out of the five therapists reported experiencing erotic transference from a male client. None of the participants informed of having had erotic countertransference towards a male client. A general dis-ease with the topic of erotic transference and countertransference was described by all of the psychotherapists. Author keywords: Gender, female therapist, traditional males, clients, gender steretyping, gender competence