Women of Color: Integrating Ethnic and Gender Identities in Psychotherapy
Watson, Marlene F
Comas-Diaz, L., & Greene, B. (1994). Women of color: Integrating ethnic and gender identities in psychotherapy. New York: Guilford, 518 pp., $44.95.
Two thumbs up! Women of Color stands among other landmark books such as Ethnicity and Family Therapy and Black Families in Therapy. It fills a major gap in the literature by comprehensively addressing the effects of both race and gender on the psychological development of women of color. It also emphasizes the crucial role of gender and race as major constructs in all family development.
Women of Color comes alive with the spirit of each ethnoracial group of women covered. It takes us into the hearts and souls of these women as they make meaning of their lives. It also sensitizes practitioners to relevant mental health issues and concerns.
The book is organized into three sections. The authors stress the heterogeneity of women of color in the beginning section. This section provides a sociocultural context for African American, American Indian, Asian American, Latina/Hispanic, and East and West Indian women. It includes a rich and thorough discussion of significant factors (i.e., gender roles, immigration, economics, religious/spiritual philosophy, family structure, and education) that impinge on each group’s self-identity. In this section, the common thread of oppression binds the articles together.
The second section offers a critique of psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, family therapy, feminist, and integrative approaches with women of color. It also provides a rarely seen discussion in the mental health literature of psychopharmacologic considerations with people of color. In analyzing the efficacy of the various approaches to treatment with women of color, the authors seem to echo a similar message. Treatment models must incorporate the living realities of women of color and deconstruct the notion that anyone can be made to fit into an existing paradigm, especially when they were not considered in the construction of that paradigm.
The final section explores special populations of women of color, including lesbians, professional women, battered women, refugee women, and mixed-race women. The authors discuss the added stressors encountered by special population women along with treatment considerations. I found this section to be the most rewarding because the stressors that daily impact the lives of these women are often ignored or minimized. Women of Color brings together an incredible amount of knowledge in one text that easily serves as a major resource for educators, practitioners, and students. It is well-written and easily understood. Marlene F. Watson, PhD
Medical College of Pennsylvania & Hahnemann University Philadelphia, PA
Copyright American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy Oct 1996
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