Inner West counselling and Therapy

Shannon Maguire is respectful of the diversity of people’s experiences including cultural differences, socio-economic and class differences, differences of gender, sexual identity, sexual expression, age and ability. She is committed honouring and valuing the diversity of human experience that people bring with them into the counselling environment.

The majority of psychological, developmental and therapeutic theories, models, techniques, interventions and practices have been developed in the Western world by white, middle class, Judea-Christian, male intellectuals. These theories and practices often reflect dominant beliefs, ideas and ideals of the culture and era in which they were developed, and of the individuals by whom they were developed.

These theories and practices are susceptible to intentionally or unintentionally replicating and reinforcing culturally specific ideas of what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ or ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’. This is achieved through the use of a discourse of mental health that is laden with culturally embedded beliefs and values. Universal, prescriptive descriptions of how people should think, feel, behave, respond and relate are often used, and behaviours or lifestyles that deviate from these ‘norms’ are marginalised or pathologised.

These descriptions are usually proclaimed by ‘experts’, presented as absolute truths and delivered in an authoritative manner. Language such as ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’, ‘functional’ and ‘dysfunctional’ or ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’ is frequently used to define parameters of how people should think, feel, behave, respond and relate.

Many developmental and therapeutic theories and practices are sexist and patriarchal in their replication and reinforcement of culturally traditional gender roles and relationship dynamics.

Many theories are heterosexist, heteronormative and homophobic, with heterosexuality being defined as the ‘normal’, automatic or only sexual identity. Other theories reinforce homophobic ideals by defining sexual relationships or sexual attraction in terms of procreation, or a ‘natural biological’ desire to reproduce one’s genes. Homophobia is also inherent in the theories, models and practices that lack acknowledgement of the existence or legitimacy of same-sex relationships.

Most of these theories and practices have been produced within an intellectual, academic, middle class environment, and issues of class and socio-economic difference are often not adequately addressed or taken into account.

These theories and practices can also be racist in the universal application of white, western ideals of how people should think, feel, behave, respond and relate in the world, thus reinforcing and reproducing structures of power, dominance and inequity.

Shannon Maguire is committed to remaining aware of and not replicating inequitable power structures or any other oppressive dynamics that may exist within developmental, psychological and therapeutic theories, models and practices.