Does Psychology serve women? Stories from Australian Psychologists

Research output: Other contribution to conferencePresentation only


This presentation delves into the narratives crafted by Australian psychologists, exploring how women's mental health is shaped and influenced. It examines the underlying discourses of gender and neoliberalism that are utilised in constructing these narratives and highlights their tendency to maintain the existing system rather than facilitating transformative change.

While previous research has primarily focused on the theoretical connections between neoliberalism, subjectivity, and the discipline of Psychology (LaMarre; Lemke, 2002; Thrift and Sugarman), this study broadens the scope by investigating how these discourses manifest in therapists' language.

Adopting a feminist post-structuralist epistemology, this research employs story-telling tasks to examine the construction of women in therapy and how psychologists make sense of mental illness and therapy. Critical discourse analysis is utilized to investigate the prevalent discourses employed by clinicians when portraying women in mental health interventions.

The findings reveal that participants heavily rely on neoliberal and gendered discourses, such as motherhood, self-responsibility, and individualisation, to “story women into being”. These discourses heavily influence the way women's mental health is understood and addressed. Further to this, a theme of hopelessness and unknowing is also prominent in the stories.

The goal of this research is to generate new understandings that can help clinicians provide transformative and meaningful experiences for their clients. While therapists don't need to completely abandon their training or engage in large-scale interventions, this research encourages reflection, critical practice, and the possibility for micro-level interventions that disrupt neoliberal subjectivities. Ultimately, the findings may contribute to the development of anti-oppressive practices that disrupt neoliberal governmentality and foster small yet impactful shifts towards transforming social structures.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2023
EventNarrative Matters 2023 - Tampere University Main Building, City Centre Campus, Tampere, Finland
Duration: 15 Jun 202317 Jun 2023


ConferenceNarrative Matters 2023
Abbreviated titleInstrumental Narratives
Internet address


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