Mental Health Matters:
Toward a Non-Medicalized Approach to Pschotherapy with Women


Cerise Morris


Inuit Drawing




     This article discusses the epistemological biases and therapeutic risks of overly-medicalized and deterministic approaches to women's psychological problems. Constructivist and feminist perspectives are used to illuminate the essentially political enterprise of naming psychological distress, and to argue the necessity of  feminist theories of psychotherapy. These too, however, must be critically examined for deterministic assumptions which emphasize pathology or victimization, thereby limiting recognition of women's agency, and capacity for resistance and change. One alternative model is Adler's Individual Psychology. This humanistic approach is neither medicalized nor deterministic, assumes human freedom and purposefulness, emphasizes the dialectic interaction  of the individual and society, and is philosophically committed to gender equality. [Article copies available for a fee from The Haworth Document Delivery Service: 1-800-342-9678. E-mail address:]

   Cerise Morris holds a Masters degree in Social Work and a PhD in Sociology (Women's Studies), as well as a post-graduate certificate in Counseling Psychology. She has been involved in feminist activity for twenty-five years, including founding and coordinating a women's center, facilitating women's groups, research and writing on women's issues, and conducting a private practice in counseling and psychotherapy using a feminist perspective. She teaches in the Social Service Program at Dawson College in Montreal.

An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Women's Health Matters Conference, McGill University, Montreal, March 29, 1996.