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Gender Dynamics in Person-Centered Therapy: Does gender matter?

Gillian Proctor
Bradford and Airedale Teaching Primary Care Trust, England

Abstract. In this paper I begin to consider the impact of gender role socialization on attitudes, expectations and the dynamics of power in person-centered therapy. It is argued in Proctor (2004) that part of gender role socialization could also be construed as gendered conditions of worth in person-centered theory. Both person-centered and feminist theories suggest that gender role socialization or gendered conditions of worth limit and restrict the potential of both women and men in our society. In what ways can personcentered therapy perpetuate or challenge gender role socialization? I consider each possible gender pairing in therapy and discuss the potential dynamics that may arise to try to help person-centered therapists consider how gender dynamics may be relevant in therapy relationships. Key words: Gender, conditions of worth, socio-political context, power, congruence Gender-Dynamik in der Personzentrierten Therapie: Ist das Geschlecht von Bedeutung In diesem Artikel beginne ich, berlegungen dazu anzustellen, welchen Einfluss die Sozialisation im Bereich Geschlechterrollen auf Einstellungen, Erwartungen und die Machtdynamik in der Personzentrierten Therapie hat. 2004 hatte ich argumentiert (Proctor, 2004), dass ein Teil der GeschlechtsroUensozialisation auch als geschlechtsroUenabhngig bedingte Wertschtzung in der personzentrierten Theorie formuliert werden kann. Sowohl personzentrierte als auch feministische Theorien legen nahe, dass eine Sozialisation in Geschlechtsrollen oder geschlechtsroUenabhngig bedingte Wertschtzung das Potenzial von Frauen und Mnnern in unserer Gesellschaft beschrnken und einengen. Aufweiche Weise kann Personzentrierte Therapie GeschlechtsroUensozialisation entweder zementieren oder in Frage stellen? Ich untersuche jede in einer Therapie mgliche Geschlechterkonstellation und diskutiere die potenzieUe Dynamik, die daraus entstehen kann. Damit versuche ich. Personzentrierten Therapeuten und Therapeutinnen bei ihren berlegungen zu helfen, wie die Geschlechterdynamik in therapeutischen Beziehungen von Relevanz sein kann.

Author Note. The author may be contacted at: <>. Proctor 1477-9757/08/02082-13

Proctor Dinmicas de gnero en la terapia centrada en la persona: El gnero, importa? En este escrito comienzo a considerar el impacto de la socializacin de rol de gnero en las actitudes, expectativas y dinmicas de poder en la terapia centrada en la persona. Se afirma en Proctor (2004) que parte de la socializacin del rol de gnero puede interpretarse como condiciones de valor de gnero en la teora centrada en la persona. Tanto la teora centrada en la persona como la feminista sugieren que la socializacin del rol de gnero o las condiciones de valor de gnero limitan y restringen el potencial tanto de las mujeres como de los hombres en nuestra sociedad. De qu forma puede la terapia centrada en la persona perpetuar o desafiar la socializacin del rol de gnero? Yo considero a cada una de las combinaciones posibles del gnero de los clientes y el de los terapeutas en la terapia y analizo las posibles dinmicas que pueden surgir para intentar ayudar a los terapeutas centrados en la persona a considerar cmo las dinmicas de gnero pueden ser relevantes en las relaciones de terapia. Le Genre dans l'ACP : quelles dynamiques? Dans cet article je rfichis sur l'impact de la socialisation des rles selon le genre de la personne ainsi que sur les attitudes, les attentes et la dynamique de pouvoir dans la thrapie centre sur la personne. Selon Proctor (2004), une partie de la socialisation du rle de l'homme ou de la femme pourrait galement tre comprise, dans la thorie centre sur la personne, en termes de conditions de valeur. Les thories centres sur la personne et fministes suggrent que la socialisation du rle ou les conditions de valeur selon le genre limitent et rduisent le potentiel des femmes et des hommes dans notre socit. De quelles manires la thrapie centre sur la personne est-elle complice ou bouscule-t-elle la manire dont les rles des hommes et des femmes se socialisent? J'explore chaque possibilit de mise en prsence (homme-femme/ client(e)-thrapeute) dans une relation psycho thrapeutique, et les types de dynamique qui peuvent s'y jouer, pour aider les psychothrapeutes centrs sur la personne rflchir sur la manire dont ces dynamiques diffrentes peuvent influer sur la relation thrapeutique. Dinmica de gnero na Terapia Centrada na Pessoa: o gnero importante? No presente artigo, comeo por considerar o impacto da socializaco ligada ao papel do gnero sobre as atitudes, as expectativas e as dinmicas de poder na terapia centrada na pessoa. Proctor (2004) dfende que parte da socializaco ligada ao papel do gnero podia ser tambm construida, na terapia centrada na pessoa, sob a forma de condies de valor condicionadas pelo gnero. Tanto as teorias centradas na pessoa, como as teorias feministas sugerem que uma socializaco ligada ao papel do gnero ou condies de valor condicionadas pelo gnero limitam e restringem o potencial de mulheres e homens as nossas sociedades. De que forma pode a terapia centrada na pessoa perpetuar ou desafiar a socializaco ligada ao papel do gnero? Gonsidero todas as combinaes de gnero possveis em terapia e discuto as potenciis dinmicas que podem emergir, de modo a procurar ajudar os terapeutas centrados na pessoa a terem em conta o papel das dinmicas de gnero e a sua relevancia para as relaes teraputicas.

Proctor (2004)::j;nfi> ttSifiJ^teft:gPi, y<~y ^-^ >'

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Gender Dynamics in Person-Centered Therapy GENDERED CONDITIONS OF WORTH Gender seems to be one ofthe most critical attributes or aspects of identity we use to make sense of another. By the time we are two years old, most of us have a firm sense of ourselves as male or female, and although gender as a term refers to the socially constructed categories of masculine and feminine, we "conduct ourselves in everyday life so as to confirm that sex is clear-cut, and in so doing we shore up the belief that the male/female dichotomy is universal and obvious" (Bilton et al., 2002, p. 134). The idea of sex in "Western cultures is defined biologically in an essentialist way, although the idea of sex being so clear-cut and categorical as the definitions of male and female suggest is clearly contested. Bilton et al. (2002, p. 135) suggest that "the simple division into male and female sex regarded as an obvious and universal distinction based upon bodies is itself a social construction." By gender, following a social constructionist perspective, I am referring to the socially and culturally defined practices which generate frameworks of femininities and masculinities within which gender differences emerge and are reproduced and challenged (Bilton et al., 2002). These practices vary across cultures and over time. Yet, gender has not been generally considered in person-centered theory or therapy and little in the therapy literature as a whole. In 1987, Kaplan (a feminist psychodynamic therapist from the Stone Center) wrote: I am suggesting that we think about therapy in a way that we are not accustomed to doing to think about patients and therapists as being gendered, women or men. That is not to say that there is a direct, one-to-one correspondence between gender and personality. Clearly not all men are alike, nor are all women. But we do live in a highly gendered society, with strong norms about appropriate modes of being for men and women. However, regardless ofthe extent to which we consciously accept or reject these norms, we act in some relation to them and are experienced by others in relation to them. (Kaplan, 1987, p. 11) In Proctor and Napier (2004, p. 5) we argued that "for person-centred theorists, the focus is always on the individual man or woman. There is no systematic analysis of gender dynamics when attempting to understand the person." Furthermore, in Proctor (2004) I argue that person-centered therapists would benefit from an understanding of feminism, and in particular "a societal understanding of gender roles, sexism and other oppressions" (p. 129). In the same volume Schmid (2004) echoes the call for person-centered theory to take account of gender, saying "it is also important to conceptualize theoretically that the human being is a person as man or woman not sexually neutral" (p. 181). Similar pleas have been made for therapists to consider the ethnicity and culture of people and the relevance of this in therapy, most recently in Proctor, Cooper, Sanders and Malcolm (2006). There is much now written in the therapy literature as a whole emphasizing the importance of considering ethnicity and the relevance of culture in therapy, focusing on cultural competence and the implications of therapists and clients being from the same or different cultures.
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Proctor Connell (1987) suggests that three aspects interact to form a society's gender order: labor, power and cathexis (intimate relationships). For Connell (1987) power or men's dominance over women is the central premise around which various types of masculinity and femininity are arranged, from the individual to the institutional level. This dominancesubmission dynamic of power between men and women is relevant to the therapy relationship. In Proctor (2002) I identified three different aspects of power in the therapy relationship: role power (the power arising from the roles of therapist and client), societal power (the power arisingfromstructural positions of the therapist and dient such as gender and ethnicity), and historical power (arisingfromthe personal histories of each with respect to experiences of power and powerlessness). These aspects are interrelated and thus the impact of gender roles (part of societal power) will depend on the personal histories of each person involved in addition to other aspects of identity or structural positions. There are dominant cultural messages perpetuated by individuals to varying extents and, in particular, by much of the media, which ensure that these pervasive cultural messages are passed to all. In Western cultures they create aframeworkof expectations and norms of what attributes and behaviors are more or less appropriate to each gender. Giddens (2006) describes gender role socialization as follows: "Through contact with various ^encies of socialization ... children gradually internalize the social norms and expectations which are seen to correspond with their sex" (Giddens, 2006, p. 469). The idea that these gender norms are purely internalized has been challenged, suggesting that each person is also an agent responding to these norms in various ways. These gendered expectations vary across classes, cultures, and locations, but some commonalities can be identified representing dominant messies about gender. Giddens (2006, p. 465) describes various masculinities and femininities and labels the dominant Western discourses as hegemonic masculinity and emphasized femininity. Hegemonic masculinity includes expectations of heterosexuality, authority, paid work, strength and physical toughness whereas emphasized femininity includes compliance, nurturance and empathy. I am going to specifically focus on the most common aspects of gender role socialization in Western cultures with some mention of possible cultural differences and the potential impact of these. Gender role socialization is a very similar idea to Rogers' (1959) concept of conditions of worth which are social norms and expectations given to people and responded to in various ways. In Proctor (2004) I suggested that gender role socialization could be referred to in person-centered terminology as "gendered conditions of worth" (p. 132). Similarly, Chantier (2004, 2005, 2006) has referred to racialized and gendered conditions of worth. Gendered conditions of worth, or gender role socialization, is only one aspect of how each ofour identities is shaped by our society, and any effects of gender will always interact and be modified by messages concerning other aspects of identity, so the generalizations I make about gender are always modified by other conditions of worth with each individual. However, generalizations do come from powerful cultural messages in Western cultures and the question is how much these powerful messages come into play in each therapist dyad or how these messages are responded to by the individuals within the therapy relationship. Person-Centered and Experiential Psychotherapies, Volume 7, Number 2 85

Gender Dynamics in Person-Centered Therapy Both person-centered and feminist theory suggest that gender role socialization or gendered conditions of worth limit and restrict the potential of both women and men in our society (Proctor, 2004, p. 3) and aim to liberate usfromthe damaging eflFects of these methods of control, so I am particularly concerned to ask in what ways can person-centered therapy perpetuate or challenge gender role socialization? As therapists, how can we become more aware of dominant ctiltural messages that may be followed or absorbed without our focus or awareness, thus foreclosing other options or preventing a considered choice as to how we want to act in any particular situation? Rather than follow the ctiltural injunctions without thought or react in rebellion against them, how can we be aware of these implicit messages to then gain more freedom in how we behave in various circumstances? Our aim to become as congruent as possible in therapy relationships is relevant here. Cornelitis-White (2007) su^ests five dimensions of congruence, which are genuineness, symbolization, authenticity, organismic integration, and flow. Awareness of gendered conditions of worth is particularly relevant to the second (symbolization availability to awareness and accurate symbolization) and fourth (organismic integrationwhich refers to people not just as relational but also as biochemical and ecological/political) dimensions of congruence (Cornelius-White, 2007). Ifwe aim to bring as much of our experience as possible into awareness and accurate symbolization, and be aware of our interconnectedness with others and the whole environment, this surely includes increasing our awareness of how messages about gender have shaped, formed, and affected our own sense of ourselves and others. How can we increase our congruence to become aware of conditions that may arise from our own gender role socialization and reduce our unconditional positive regard for our clients?


There is some research in the general therapy literature about the implications of therapists and clients being of the same or diflFerent gender, including experimental research studying how therapists' behaviors vary depending on the gender of the client; asking clients and therapists about their thoughts on gender in therapy; and some theoretical writing within the psychoanalytic tradition. Generally the restilts are complex with no easy relationship leading to conclusions about whether a particular gender of client wotdd work better with a partictilar gender of therapist (Clarkin & Levy, 2004; Beutler et al., 2004). This would be expected given the complex and dynamic nature of gender and its interaction with other aspects of identity Many studies asking clients about their experience of therapy and the impact of the gender of their therapist have concluded that the gender of their therapist is often a significant factor for clients, yet therapists rarely rate their gender as being significant (Gehart & Lyle, 2001). Jones and Zoppel (1982) foimd that in general female therapists saw themselves as more successfid with female clients and that clients in general thought female therapists formed more effective therapeutic alliances than male therapists. Pikus and Heavey (1996) found that most
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Proctor prospective female clients preferred a female therapist and that most male clients did not express a preference, although of those that did, most preferred a female therapist. This study backs up the idea that clients' expectations of therapists will be pardy based on gender role expectations and stereotypes. Gehart and Lyle (2001) summarize the existing research, both qualitative and quantitative, which provides evidence that the gender of the client and therapist and the interaction of this is a significant and often subtle factor in therapy. They conclude that clients have clearly stated that the gender ofthe therapist is important and that they have preferences. Research has uncovered numerous differences in the ways therapists interact with, diagnose, and treat clients based on the gender ofthe therapist and client (Cooke & Kipnis, 1986). Research has also identified differences in how clients form alliances and respond to male and female therapists. Gehart and Lyle (2001) found that all 15 clients in their study who had experienced ongoing therapy with both genders described both male and female therapists in gender stereotypical ways, describing male therapists as more problem-focused and direct in communication and female therapists as comfortable to talk to, nonjudgmental, feeling-focused and caring. However, in each case, half of the clients found those attributes helpfiil and half found them unhelpfial. The authors conclude that the universal descriptions of male and female therapists remind us how difficult it is for the therapeutic relationship to move significantly beyond gender stereotypes. It may be more difficult for therapists to be seen in nonstereotyped ways than is generally assumed. So gender role stereotypes not only influence client expectations of therapists based on their gender but also influence how they are perceived during the relationship. They suggest that client constructions of gender may be one ofthe primary discourses clients draw from when deciding how to interact with therapists. Gehart and Lyle's (2001) recommendations for therapists are that no clear and simple rule can be applied to all situations, and an individual's history, social context, and personality gready affect the perception of gender. Yet, therapists can make themselves keenly aware of their own gender stories and stereotypes, as well as their role in the often unhelpfiil structuring of gender expectations and stereotyping that has been the inheritance of our traditionally dichotomous understanding of gender. Similarly, Cantor (1990, pp. 6-7) suggests that "therapists need to be aware ofthe qualities their socialization and sex roles bring to their role as therapists so that they can interfere as litde as possible with the work at hand." As person-centered therapists, the above research suggests that we need to be aware that however much we think we are behaving in non-gender stereotypical ways, this may not be how clients are perceiving us. This concurs with my suggestion (Proctor, 2002) about the role power we have as therapistshowever much we feel we are behaving in non-authoritarian ways it does not necessarily follow that clients will perceive us this way. This is a clear reminder ofthe importance of Rogers' (1959) sixth necessary and sufficient condition for therapy: the importance ofthe client's perception ofthe therapist.

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Gender Dynamics in Person-Centered Therapy GENDER COMBINATIONS IN THERAPY There are four possible gender combinations in therapy. I am not including intersex people as I am considering categories ofgender as opposed to sex. Also I will not consider transgendered people as I am specifically looking at die impact of messages given to people about dieir gender. Whatever gender a person subjectively feels like or whatever sex they are biologically whilst growing up, they will be treated by society as being either male or female and will still be affected by the gender role socialization of the gender they are perceived as by society (Bilton et al., 2002, p. 134). The four possibilities are,firstly,a male therapist and a female client: the traditional pairing which received the first critique regarding gender dynamics from a feminist perspective (Chesler, 1972). Secondly, a female therapist and a female client the most common pair today with most therapists or counselors being female and most clients also being female. Thirdly, we shall consider the case of a female therapist and a male client. Finally we shall look at a male therapist and a male client. This dyad is least discussed; if male clients have a preference, as mentioned earlier, it is usually for a female therapist (Pikus & Heavey, 1996). However, in some sections within the men's movement the idea of men helping each other with gender identity roles has been discussed (McLean, Carey, & White, 1996). The lack of mutuality in a therapy relationship is particularly relevant to how the dynamics of power are played out with reference to gender and what messages this relationship may reinforce. Person-centered therapy takes a particularly strong stance against the therapist exerting undue authority and enhancing the power imbalance. Furthermore, there is an emphasis on the therapist being a person who also has needs, although of course, given the roles, the therapists needs are still bracketed in therapy in service of the needs of the client. However mutual therapy aims to be, the roles of therapist and client create an inevitable asymmetry which perpetuates the idea that one person cares and the other person is cared for. This is particularly relevant to the gender stereotype of women being nurturers and carers. Male therapist and female client The first pairing to consider is of a male therapist and a female client. This is the most traditional gender pairing considered in the history of therapy when most therapists were men and in authority, and nearly all clients were women (as can be seen in Freud's writing, see Chesler, 1972). This scenario covers current psychotherapy within the psychiatric profession, still male-dominated and where again the majority of clients are women. Furthermore, Chesler (1972) argues that the treatment of women in asylums traditionally paralleled women's experiences in the patriarchal family, with women treated as helpless, dependent, sexless and unreasonable. Similarly, she contends that the institution of therapy re-enacts the relationship of girls to their father figure in a patriarchal society. This assertion is particularly relevant to the gender pairing of male therapist with female client.
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Proctor Hegemonic masculiniy positions men as traditional authority figures in Western society and as such this pairing is particularly likely to lead to female clients expecting authority from a male therapist and responding in a compliant, submissive, emphasized femininity role. In this situation, it may be difficult for a male person-centered therapist to be perceived as not taking power-over the client however much individual therapists try to behave in such a nonauthoritarian way. Male person-centered therapists need to be particularly aware that to be empathie, warm, caring and emotional is going against the stereotype of male behavior and they may need to work particularly hard to be perceived this way by clients who are likely to expect more male stereotypical behavior. In this pairing, the prevalence of physical and sexual violence predominantly perpetrated by men against women may be a relevant factor. Globally the statistics for violence against women are frightening (Proctor & Napier, 2004, p. 7). Women's possible expectations of men as violent or fi-ightening as well as authoritarian may make it even harder for male person-centered therapists to be perceived as basically safe for women clients. Particular issues may arise with female clients from non-Western cultures, where cultural and gendered expectations may mean that it is not customary for women to disclose personal information to men. For example, women across many cultures, particularly South Asian and Middle Eastern cultures such as Syria, Turkey and Pakistan, are expected to carry the honor of their community, thus prohibiting disclosure of sexual violence or extramarital affairs which would not only be culturally shameil but carry the risk of community hostility or rejection, or even murder (honor killings). Asylum Aid explains: Women are perceived to be the keepers of a family's honour. A woman is considered to bring shame on her family and community if she does not adhere to strict social norms of behaviour and conduct ... Women as keepers of a family's honour are conditioned to be self-controlled to show deference to men throughout their lives. (Asylum Aid, 2007, p. 26) Given this socialization for women to show deference to men, it may be particularly hard for a male person-centered therapist's attitudes to be perceived as opposed to being deferred to. If the male therapist is from the same culture as the female client, issues may arise for the client concerning how she feels she shotild behave according to cultural norms of gendered behavior. How the therapist and client negotiate the expectations of their roles along with the expectations of their gender may be something to be discussed in therapy. Female therapist and female client This is likely to be the most common gender pairing in therapy today with the majority of therapists and counselors being female and the majority of clients being female. Of course gender role socialization explains this statistic. It is no surprise that caring professionals are predominantly female with gender role socialization of girls and women to care for others, and the concomitant low status given to caring in our society. Male gender role socialization encourages boys and men to be independent to neither care for others nor to ask for help Person-Centered and Experiential Psychotherapies, Volume 7, Number 2 89

Gender Dynamics in Person-Centered Therapy and thus contravene the injunction to be independent. Also relevant here is the earlier mentioned research finding that most female clients express a gender preference for a female therapist (Pikus & Heavey, 1996). This finding can also be explained by gender role socialization women are socialized to expect and seek carefi-omother women, not from men. Some writing about female therapists working with female clients is from a feminist perspective, concerning the value of a woman understanding a woman's perspective, and why women clients may prefer a woman therapist afi:er experiences of abuse and violence at the hands of men. Traditional feminist therapy sees the benefit of removing the power dynamic of a male therapist working with a female client, and capitalizes on the understanding between women from the commonality of shared experiences as women. However later feminist theory questions the assumption that any commonality of shared experiences can be assumed, given all the other differences such as social class, ethnicity and sexuality among women (Hooks, 1989). This pairing reflects traditional gender role expectations of women to both seek care from women (originally mothers) and give care (Chodorow, 1978). Cantor (1990, p. 4) points out that "the role of woman as therapist is seen as consistent with her overall socialization and role in the larger culture: always being available to nurture." The relational skills of listening and empathy are skills that are encouraged in the gender role socialization of girls and women, thus suggesting that the attitudes of a person-centered therapist are likely to come more naturally to women and may need to be learned by men. However, accepting care as a woman is likely to conflict with gender role expectations given common dominant cultural messies to women to look afber others and not think about their own needs. This strongly reflects my experience as a female therapist with female clients; the issue of the client feeling selfish for thinking about her own needs and receiving my care is extremely common. This experience is likely to repeat many girls' experiences of being looked after by mothers, whilst simultaneously receiving the message that their job is to look afi:er others. Chesler (1972) su^ests that women clients may be looking for the nurture they never received as female children as they were encouraged to take on the role of nurturing others from a young age. An issue that concerns me is how much the commonality of therapists being female perpetuates the idea that women should take responsibility for nurturing, with the therapist dedicating her time and energy in the service of the client. Here again the female therapist is encouraged to dismiss her own needs in the service of another. Or does care being legitimized in the context of therapy at least give a greater credibility and formality to women's otherwise unpaid and undervalued caring? In addition, the majority of clients being female may encourage women clients to question gendered expectations of women to discount their own needs. All these dynamics are likely to be at play with female therapists and female clients. Women are also socialized to be in competition with each other to gain male attention (Tanenbaum, 2002). If a female therapist is unaware of how this may affect her attitude towards other women, it may be hard for her to experience unconditional positive regard towards a female client who she may perceive as being more attractive to men than herself This aspect of female socialization may similarly provoke jealousy in female clients who perceive their female therapist as being more attractive to men than she feels herself. 90 Person-Centered and Experiential Psychotherapies, Volume 7, Number 2

Proctor Female therapist and male client When male clients have a gender preference, this is usually for a female therapist (Pikus & Heavey, 1996). This could be explained by experiences of abuse or violence by the client being so much more likely to have been perpetuated by a man. However, I suspect it also reflects dominant cultural messies about gender. Men are brought up to expect to be cared for by women, with this role moving smoothly from their mother to their wife in traditional heterosexual femilies (Chodorow, 1978). Men report being much more likely to talk to women including femalefi-iendsabout emotional issues rather than malefi^iends,and report feeling afiraid of being judged to be not masculine if talking about feelings (and therefore showing weakness) to other men (Gehart & Lyle, 2001). However, when men are socialized to be strong and to look after women, to then experience care from and perhaps dependence on a woman therapist can feel confusing or humiliating. There is also the possibility here that male clients can use their sexual power over female therapists as a way to reassert their own power in the relationship. There may be particular issues for male clients from non-Western cultures with this pairing. In many African cultures it is not customary for men to talk to women at all about personal matters unless she is his wife, and to do so or to feel strongly about a female therapist may constitute a betrayal. Working with male clients brings particular issues for female therapists, particularly with how much this perpetuates the woman therapist s gender role socialization to look after men and dismiss her own emotional needs. Particularly with person-centered therapy, where therapists are concentrating on following the client's direction, women therapists may need to be particularly aware with male clients of their own needs and limitations, and to check their socialization does not lead to these being dismissed or overridden in the face of a man's concerns. Male therapist and male client This gender pairing is the least discussed in the literature, possibly due to it being least likely statistically. In addition, how men help men is probably least discussed in society as a whole, with fathers' influence on children only recendy being discussed, and also recent explorations in parts of the men's movement of male gender roles in male friendship. Men are traditionally encouraged to relate to each other through jokey camaraderie and often competitive games to prove manhood. However, sexism has also meant that to some men only other men can have the authority, skills or expertise to help. Some men ran with the call from the feminist movement for the need for men to look at how they relate to women and each other (McLean et al., 1996). Some men have questioned their socialization to expect care and nurturing always from women and have begun to explore how to provide this to each other and to be more active as fathers in providing a nurturing role for their children. Men may feel they have a lot to gain as clients in seeing a male therapist, firsdy in terms of the therapist understanding from personal experience the particular pressures on men Person-Centered and Experiential Psychotherapies, Volume 7, Number 2 91

Gender Dynamics in Person-Centered Therapy concerning gender role expectations and the difficulties of negotiating possible expectations from women to be both strong, dependable, and more recendy, at the same time to be emotionally articulate and available. A male therapist can be of particular help with these issues if he is aware of his own journey and relationship to male gender role expectations. Men may also want to turn to other men for help in therapy as a way of challenging their expectations of seeking nurturance from women, and this pairing has the opportunity to challenge this societal expectation. Person-centered therapy in particular takes this opportunity, with male person-centered therapists explicidy challenging the traditional authoritarian role expected from men in positions of power. However, again, as with female clients, male clients may expect authority from male therapists, and it may be difficult for male clients to perceive male therapists as not taking authoritarian power in therapy, however hard a male therapist tries to act in a non-authoritarian way.

DOMINANCE AND SUBMISSION A key aim in person-centered therapy relationships is for the therapist not to dominate the client and be an expert, but to create a relationship of equals. Rogers' emphasis on this nonauthoritarian equality was in response to the traditional authoritarian expert stance of the psychoanalytic therapist (Proctor, 2002). Natiello (2001, p. 11) explains: "Such a stand is in radical conflict with the prevailing paradigm of authoritarian power." Whereas in Proctor (2002) I suggested that person-centered therapists may be in danger of underestimating the power inherent in the role of therapist and the institution of therapy, in this paper, I emphasize the need for person-centered therapists to not underestimate or ignore the power involved in the dynamics of gender relations. I argue that the asymmetry which is inevitable in the therapy relationship is in danger of perpetuating relationships based on dominance and submission rather than mutuality and mutual recognition. The institution of therapy perpetuates the idea of relationships where only one person's needs are catered for. This inevitable role inequality can then interact with gender dynamics within therapy to further reinforce the idea of dominance-submission relationships particularly when the therapist is a woman. With a female therapist, this can reinforce the idea of a woman giving up her needs in the service of another. With a male therapist and female client this can reinforce the idea of a woman deferring to the authority of a man, given the authority of the therapist's role. Although person-centered therapy challenges this dominance-submission relationship by working towards notions of equality, the asymmetry in the roles of therapist and client remains, and however the person-centered therapist behaves individually, the clear remit in therapy is to attend to the needs of the client and not the therapist. How far can person-centered therapy challenge this template of dominance-submission relationships?


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Proctor CONCLUSIONS Firstly, gender is an important consideration in person-centered therapy. Research and common sense regarding the salience of gender in our society make this clear. As therapists, how much do we attend to the impact of our own gender on our clients? In Proctor (2002) I suggested that it may be helpful for therapists to have a checklist of considerations for the dynamics of power in therapy. This also applies specifically to the consideration of gender in particular within the dynamics of power. Therapists can think about their own positions and how their gender impacts on their attitude towards their role as therapist and how clients may see them due to their gender and according to the gender of the client. Therapists can be aware of all aspects of societal power differences between themselves and their clients, and how they can resist reinforcing traditional power ineqtxalities. Finally therapists can consider historical power for both themselves and their clients: how does the therapist's personal history affect their understanding and attitude towards gender role socialization and expectations? The same question can be considered for each client. These questions may enable person-centered therapists to think in a more complex way about us all as gendered people and the possible effects of societal messages about gender on our therapy relationships. We may also want to consider whether we can offer clients a choice of gender of therapist, and what would influence our personal choice of gender of therapist in order to explore how much this may be reinforcing the idea firom gender role socialization of seeking women for nurturance. "What does all this mean for the institution of therapy? Could it be that in professionalizing emotional nurturance women are fi'eed from their traditional role as caregivers? Or does the necessarily unequal relationship in therapy perpettiate traditional unequal gender roles and relationships based on dominance and submission? It is the responsibility of each person-centered therapist to consider how they contribute to this, whether they can contribute to challenging these roles, and how far it is possible to work towards therapy relationships based on mutual recognition of equal subjects.

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