A case study of the use of feminist psychotherapy with women who have had abortions

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

In this study the use of feminist psychotherapy with a woman who has had an abortion is explored. A survey of the literature shows that this approach to psychotherapy is based on a philosophy that women's pathology is inextricably linked to the patriarchal influences of society that have devalued and disempowered women. Abortion, as a specific women's issue, is contextualised within this framework, illustrating that these influences compound women's physical and psychological distress when having an abortion. The case study method is employed to explore the use of this feminist approach in a four month period of psychotherapy with a woman who had an abortion. This highlights how patriarchal influences in the family and religion create major stress factors that affect women's experience of abortion. In particular, the conflicts that centre around women's sexuality that are evoked by the abortion are addressed. The study also demonstrates how the use of this approach may bring out the positive meaning of the abortion for women, as in this case where the abortion was seen as the beginning of the important process of separation. The study concludes that feminist psychotherapy is a beneficial approach to utilise when working with women who have had an abortion.

Bibliography: leaves 71-79.