Elisabeth E. Esmiol, PhD(c), is an Assistant Professor of Marriage and Family Therapy, Division of Social Sciences, Pacific Lutheran University; Carmen Knudson-Martin, PhD, is a Professor and Director of the Marriage and Family Therapy PhD Program, Department of Counseling and Family Sciences, Loma Linda University; Sarah Delgado, MS, is a student in the DMFT (Doctorate in Marriage and Family Therapy) program, Department of Counseling and Family Sciences, Loma Linda University.
Developing a Contextual Consciousness: Learning to Address Gender, Societal Power, and Culture in Clinical Practice
Article first published online: 2 MAY 2011
© 2012 American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
Journal of Marital and Family Therapy
Volume 38, Issue 4, pages 573–588, October 2012
How to Cite
Esmiol, E. E., Knudson-Martin, C. and Delgado, S. (2012), Developing a Contextual Consciousness: Learning to Address Gender, Societal Power, and Culture in Clinical Practice. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 38: 573–588. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-0606.2011.00232.x
This project was completed while Elisabeth E. Esmiol was a doctoral student at Loma Linda University. Portions of this project were presented at the 2008 annual meeting of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, Nashville, Tennessee.
- Issue published online: 15 OCT 2012
- Article first published online: 2 MAY 2011
Despite the growing number of culturally sensitive training models and considerable literature on the importance of training clinicians in larger contextual issues, research examining how students learn to apply these issues is limited. In this participatory action research project, we systematically studied our own process as marriage and family therapy (MFT) practicum students developing a contextual consciousness. Using grounded theory, we identified a three-stage process: (a) raised awareness through clinical experimentation and developing a theoretical rationale, (b) reflective questioning involving challenging old perspectives and experiencing positive client–therapist interactions, and (c) an intentional new lens based on personal responsibility and commitment. Creating and maintaining a contextual lens required a safe, empowering group dynamic and accessing other forms of support and accountability after the practicum.