Changing our vision of menopause and midlife: A training program for clinical psychologists

Jann Gingold (1999)

The way that menopause has been socially constructed, i.e., medicalized as a deficiency disease, has profoundly affected the meaning mid-life women attribute to this experience, contributing to psychological difficulties as well as physical symptoms associated with the "change of life" in our culture. There is an unfortunate absence of specialized training programs available for clinical psychologists and other mental health professionals to educate them to be able to understand the normal developmental needs of mid-life women and the complex biopsychosocial issues of menopause, as well as attaining skins that promote wellness. Psychologists need training that provides them with theoretical bases for conceptualizing menopause as well as models, practical techniques and approaches for intervening effectively with mid-life women The main objectives of this dissertation are essentially twofold: (1) to elucidate what therapists need to know in order to work effectively and responsibly with women during mid-life and menopause. (2) to develop an innovative training program that provides clinicians with a comprehensive understanding of menopause and mid-life issues from a feminist, psychodynamic, developmental, biopsychosocial, holistic perspective, elucidating an integrative. (3) to develop an innovative training program that provides clinicians with a comprehensive understanding of menopause and mid-life issues from a feminist, psychodynamic, developmental, biopsychosocial, holistic perspective, elucidating an integrative theoretical conceptualization of menopause, and presenting practical models of intervention for their treatment of mid-life women. Alternative paradigms that present menopause as a natural process and a normal developmental transition within a woman's life span and that challenge the stereotypes, myths, and negative expectations of women growing older, are explored. Abbreviated seminar formats as well as the two-day training workshop, presented at Antioch New England Graduate School in February, 1998, are outlined. These training programs are intended to enable psychologists to be in a position to support women in creating new meaning, to empower mid-life women with opportunities for a positive transition during menopause, and to significantly expand the psychotherapeutic treatment options currently available. Clinical psychologists and other mental health professionals, specially training in mid-life and menopausal issues, would be in an ideal position to join with physicians to provide the comprehensive health care mid-life women need to successfully move through menopause.