Impact of Gender Term Paper

Pages: 8 (2525 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 15  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Psychology

Counseling

To improve the effectiveness of counseling to promote behavior change, scholars and counselors continually explore and study it. One of the topics imperative in this area is the impact of a professional counselor's gender to the ability of a client to change, which this paper will explore utilizing the Stages of Change of the Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change developed by Prochaska, DiClemente, and Norcross.

Research studies with respect to gender in counseling vis-a-vis the impact of a counselor's gender in a client's ability to change have been sparse and equivocal showing a need for further research in the area. Of the studies that have been done with respect to the impact of gender in counseling focused on matching counselor and client based on a number of variables such as ethnicity, gender, and language (Hall, Guterman, et al., 2002). Such studies usually focused on only one ethnic group. Some studies focused clients' preference for specific counselor characteristics. Other studies focused on predicting client expectations in counseling (Robitschek & Hershberger, 2005). There have also been studies investigating the interaction of male clients' characteristics and male counselors' gender role conflict as a basis for counselor bias (Wisch, 1997). Wisch (1997) noted a number of theoretical works that point to the significance of a counselor's gender as a potential influence on the counseling process.

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Similarly, there seems to be a dearth in the studies relating to gender in counseling that focuses on a client's inability or unwillingness to change based on a counselor's gender. Of the studies that have been done, the focus is on the male clients in the traditional male gender role (McCarthy and Holliday, 2004).

Term Paper on Impact of Gender Assignment

In a study conducted by Hall, Guterman, Lee, and Little (2002) addressing the issue of counselor-client match in one-to-one therapeutic interventions specifically counseling among school-aged children, the results indicated that gender matches in counseling dyads are related to treatment effectiveness and other important client variables. Counselors and clients matched based on ethnic, language, and gender variables were found to be rated significantly higher than those who were non-matched. Furthermore, matched counselors and clients showed longer duration of treatment as compared to non-matched counselors and clients. The findings of their study indicate that clients benefit from having counselors with the same gender as they have. These results suggest that the counselor's gender has an impact on the success of a client's counseling treatment. Meanwhile, the study conducted by Sue, Fujino, Hu, Takeuchi, and Zane (1991) found that there was no significant improvements in the outcome of counseling sessions for counselors and clients matched by gender. This result seems to negate the findings by Hall et al.

Another study connected to the impact of gender is the study conducted by Bernstein, Hofmann, and Wade (Bernstein, Hoffman, & Wade in Hall, Guterman, et al., 2002). The results of their study showed that clients had a clear preference for counselor gender, depending on the type of problem. The study also found that majority of the clients expressed either no preference or preference for a male counselor for almost all problems except sexual ones. On sexual issues, clients preferred counselors with the same sex as they are.

Overall, the studies mentioned draw the attention to the importance of looking at gender between counselor and client and its impact on behavior change.

In order to examine the impact of gender of a counselor to the ability of a client to change, the Transtheoretical Model's Stages of Change by Prochaska, DiClemente, and Norcross will be utilized.

The Transtheoretical Model is a model of intentional change and it focuses on the decision-making of the individual. It involves emotions, cognitions, and behavior. It also involves a reliance on self-report. Central to the Transtheoritical Model is the stages of change. These stages allow individuals to understand when specific changes occur; these changes may be changes in attitudes, intentions, and behaviors. Prochaska, DiClemente, and Norcross identified five stages of change namely: Precontemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action, and Maintenance. In the Precontemplation stage, an individual is not considering changing a particular behavior. The individual does not intend to change in the foreseeable future either because they are uninformed or under-informed about the consequences of their behavior. In the Contemplation stage, the individual becomes aware of his or her behavior and becomes aware of his or her desire to change a particular behavior. In the Preparation stage, the individual not only desires the change but also intends to take action to change a particular behavior. In this stage, the individual considers alternative strategies to solve his or her problem and takes moderate action to change his or her behavior. In the Action Stage, the individual acts on his or her plan to solve his or her problem. The individual puts intense effort in modifying the behavior as well as the environment in which the behavior occurs. The final stage is called Maintenance. In this stage, the individual work to solidify the gains that he or she has made in the Action stage. He or she works hard to prevent relapse or setbacks in his or her resolution of the problem, to be less tempted to relapse and increase his or her confidence that he or she can continue his or her change.

Information in the literature with regards to gender in consideration of the Transtheoretical stages of change is sparse. According to Robitschek and Hershberger (2005:458), "It appears that both women and men are expected to proceed similarly through the change process. It is not known, however, whether men and women might differ in where they are in the change process when they seek counseling." Furthermore, they wrote, "The only reference to gender (other than describing sample characteristics) that we could find in the stages of change literature was a study by DiClemente et al. (1991). This study found no significant gender differences in the distribution of research participants across stages of change for smoking cessation."

It is of importance to consider at which stage a client is undergoing. Prochaska et al. suggested, "A person's stage of change provides proscriptive as well as prescriptive information on treatments of choice." (Prochaska et al. In Giovazolias & Davis, 2005:174) They emphasized that there are appropriate types of therapies or interventions for specific stages. They suggested that non-confrontational interventions are more appropriate for individuals who are in the pre-contemplation and contemplation stages. On the other hand, action-oriented therapies that may involve counter-conditioning, stimulus control, among many others, may be more appropriate for individuals who are in the preparations, action, and maintenance stages.

Robitschek and Hershberger (2005) noted that most individuals in the Precontemplation stage appear to be defensive when they find themselves in counseling. For clients in the early stages of change, counselors are required to have an empathic attitude especially when undergoing consciousness raising. This process of change - consciousness raising - involves increased awareness about the causes, consequences, and cures for a particular behavior.

In the early stages, it seems that it would be more effective to have a male counselor with male client and female counselor with female client to promote comfortability in favor of the client since clients are usually expected to confront the causes of their problematic behavior in these stages.

Perhaps the impact of a counselor's gender on a client's ability to change differs on a case-to-case basis vis-a-vis the root cause of the client's problem that he or she wants to change particularly in the early stages of change. In cases, where the root cause of a client's problem is sexually related and would thus, require sensitivity and comfortability on the part of the client like physical or sexual abuse, male counselor with male client and female counselor with female client would be more appropriate. This is particularly true for female clients.

It is important for a female client to have a female counselor to promote the client's comfortability. According to Irene Harwood (Harwood in Harwood, 2003), "If she cannot at present be in the presence of men, if the aura of the abuser has been generalized to most males, she should either be seen individually by a female therapist or be in an all-female group (not necessarily a symptom-specific one)."

On the other hand, in cases where the root cause of a client's problem is not sexually related, having a male counselor with a female client would probably not cause much problem unless the female client does not appear comfortable based on the other variables involved like ethnicity, language, to name a few. The male client however, may not be quite comfortable with a female counselor and thus he might be unwilling to change.

In general, a male client may be less open to change or unable and unwilling to change with a female counselor. Particularly in the early stages of change, a male client may be more comfortable with a male counselor. There have been many studies regarding the low incidence of males seeking professional counseling help (McCarthy and Holliday, 2004). Literature… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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