The purpose of this study is to explore both male and female professional counsellors beliefs based on their gender and if and how it influences the therapeutic relationship in regards to establishment, progress, and outcome. According to O’Neil (O’Neil, 1981a, 1981b, 1982) there are four empirically derived patterns of gender role conflict (GRC); Success, Power and Competition issues (SPC), Restrictive Emotionality (RE), Restrictive Affectionate Behavior Between Men (RABBM), and Conflict Between Work and Family Relations (CBWFR).
In a qualitative study about GRC male therapists were interviewed about their working experiences with male and female clients. It was mainly found that when ...view middle of the document...
In regards to female therapists and both male and female clients, studies showed that female counsellors prefer and work towards reaching such therapeutic depth and connection with both clients’ gender and many of their male clients feel more at ease to share and be emotionally open with them similarly to their female clients (Jones & Zoppel, 1982; Kaplan, 1985; Stamler et al., 1991; Zlotnick et al., 1998).
In any case, this study does not aim to favour any gender as better than the other in both therapist and client positions, but rather we wish to gain a better understanding as to how therapists’ gender influences the overall therapeutic relationship.
For the purpose of this study, and also taking into consideration the timeframe available to complete it, it seems that the most appropriate methodology to use for the time being is phenomenology, which is concerned with the study of experience from the perspective and interpretation of the individual in interest, and emphasise the importance of their knowledge and subjectivity via interviews, discussions and observations (Lester, 1999; Moustakas, 1994). Plus, phenomenological research seeks to essentially describe rather than to explain, and starts from a perspective free from hypotheses or preconceptions (Husserl 1970).
For the purpose of this study I wish to recruit four male and four female professional counsellors to get a balanced mixture of the both genders’ responses. Participants will be voluntarily recruited from counselling centres where there will be announcements advertising the study (see Appendix 1). In this way participants are more likely to be experienced and to have had therapeutic sessions with both male and female clients. Those who wish to participate will be given inform consents, where they will be reassured that any information given will be kept strictly confidential and in no way their name will be attached to the results. They will be informed that the risks of participation are minimal but mild distress is possible, and that they have the right to withdraw at any time.
In this study, we will carry out a series of individual semi structured interviews (see Appendix C) since we need to collect data directly from experienced counsellors’ to find out about their experiences and opinions as to if and how their gender influences the overall therapeutic relationship. This way will enable us to cover all necessary aspects which need to be addressed while having some control over the questions, which will be open ended allowing participants’ freedom to express their feelings and to respond in their own words (Polit & Hungler, 1999, p.334). Plus, McLeod (1998) stresses that the qualitative interviewer must pay attention not only to what the interviewee says, but also to how it is said, which will be taken under consideration. Each interview will last an hour and a half and participants’ input will be audio recorded and detailed notes will be kept as well. I wish...