Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Robert L. Betz

Second Advisor

Dr. Edward Trembley

Third Advisor

Dr. Mal Roberston


There is increasing evidence that new conceptualizations of women's development are leading to important revisions in current psychological theories and practices. In this study, these theories were examined to enhance the treatment of depressed women. Toward this end, a phenomenological laboratory was established consisting of an 11-week psychotherapy group for depressed women which was videotaped and observed by six trained evaluators.

The primary outcome was the development of a conceptual framework for understanding women and their experience of depression. The framework was created from the identification of five content themes which emerged as a synthesis of the observations made by the evaluators, the co-therapists, and the group participants themselves. The themes were: (a) relationships and guilt, (b) power and competition, (c) anger and its expression, (d) self-esteem, and (e) ambivalence about terminations.

The conclusions were derived from the observations described above and were based on an integration of psychoanalytic and contemporary feminist theory. The major conclusion is that women grow and develop within the context of relationships rather than apart from them, and in that sense, the experience of depression for women may be a normal aspect of the developmental process. This idea can be traced to Freud's (1923) original, but admittedly incomplete discussion of women's development, whereby he mentioned the phenomena of simultaneous object cathexis and identification. Suggestions for treatment of depression as well as ideas for further research are also presented.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access