Wow, thanks for the detailed response!
Em
11

This a good point; most post-modern therapists (Feminist, Narrative, etc.) try to avoid diagnosis. For many us, in the age of third party payment, this is impossible (we gotta get paid to eat too!). But the theoretical ideal is to avoid the use of diagnostic labeling to 1) value the experiences of a the human and a relationship/experience with oppression/marginalization instead of psychopathology and 2) to act in direct resistance to current trends related to stigmatizing and marginalized those with mental health diagnoses. The idea that “missed” diagnosis is dangerous prescribes the medical model in itself, that any mental illness or strain is a detriment, rather than the view that a person may have developed coping mechanisms (no matter how maladaptive) to deal with a world that was difficult for them (i.e., sexism, racism, homophobia, ableism, etc.). Feminist theory values the relationship and expertise of the client above all things, so diagnostic language, theoretically is not as important. Realistically, I do rely on my diagnostic guides (DSM-5) to help me conceptualize and psychoeducate clients as appropriate. Helping someone understand that they have a certain issue (PTSD, let’s say) and the symptoms/presentation associated with that issue can help clients better understand themselves. Finally, I think people should be allowed to *truly* be proud of their diagnoses, and unashamed. It is valuable, as you mentioned, for people to have a diagnosis to build community (i.e., anxiety, OCD) and I think millennials are more accepting than ever. However, when housing, employment, and overall successful engagement with society is not mitigated by having a mental health diagnosis or “label,” then I could support with confidence that diagnoses are not stigmatizing. Until then,a feminist therapist would use diagnoses with caution and allow clients to choose how they label themselves.

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