Feminist Therapy

Feminist therapy is a therapeutic approach grounded in feminist theory and philosophy. Central to this approach is the idea that women may experience mental health issues as a result of psychological oppression. In feminist therapy, the therapist and client are equals – the therapist's knowledge of psychology and the client's knowledge of herself come together to embrace the client's strengths. Feminist therapists seek to recognize and understand the client's socioeconomic and political situation, and are typically personally invested in ending oppression, empowering women and girls, and working toward social change. Think this approach might be right for you? Reach out to one of TherapyDen’s feminist therapy specialists today.

Meet the specialists

As a radical feminist, I believe my work must: > deeply honor each person's inner wisdom over pathologizing doctrine; > recognize the deep soul wounding that chronic and acute oppression, systems of injustice, and planetary pain cause; and > orient deep personal healing in service to becoming an empowered agent of change, rather than adjusting to being a cog in the machine.

— Grace Silvia, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Portland, OR

I know no other way to conduct therapy than to consider the role of power and privilege not only in my clients' lives outside session but also within our relationship. Mental health is shaped by our position in society, based on race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, income/class, ability, faith, and multiple other dimensions. In order to assist clients to maximize their mental health it is critical to identify and discuss openly these dimensions.

— Donna Gardner-Jacoby, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Crystal Lake, IL

I was there at the beginning of the feminist therapy movement in the 1970's in Berkeley, CA. I remember working with other women to discover what a feminist approach to crisis/rape counseling might involve. My doctoral dissertation was a feminist analysis of women who attempt suicide. This was at a time when there was almost no research on why women made more attempts than men.

— Karin Wandrei, Clinical Social Worker in Rohnert Park, CA

How do we learn to stand in our power, and know that we don't have to fit the mold of being a "nice girl" or being quiet or pretty or thin to get our sense of esteem. We can take up space, disagree, be bold and messy and experience freedom and a sense of connection. We are so heavily influenced by subtle (and not so subtle) messages about what it means to be "good" female. Let's change this story and get out of the box; speak our truth and live boldly (we can do this with kindness and love.

— Patricia Young, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in San Diego, CA

"The most comprehensive formulation of therapeutic goals is the striving for wholeheartedness: to be without pretense, to be emotionally sincere, to be able to put the whole of oneself into one's feelings, one's work, one's beliefs." ~ Karen Horney

— Victoria Julita Spiers, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in San Francisco, CA

Feminist therapy extends beyond gender to incorporate examination of inequity of power, emphasizing context and historicity, and the inseparability of personal and political realities. Feminist therapy recognizes the subjectivity of created knowledge, interrogates domination and marginalization, disputes pathologizing of deviance and difference, challenges binaries, purity, certainty, and dichotomies.

— Jessamyn Wesley, Licensed Professional Counselor in portland, OR

My studies in eating disorders relied on feminist theory revealing how women have systemically been objectified, depersonalized and devalued. Further work with feminist therapist Robyn Posin, deepened my awareness of how pervasive, toxic, and internalized sexism is. The burgeoning movement toward intersectionality continues to grow and inform my work, helping clients recognize and root out the shame and devaluation of the feminine and the “other” in a culture where white-male is “normal.”

— Julie Levin, Marriage & Family Therapist in Pleasant Hill, CA

As a social worker and a feminist, I feel strongly that our world is impacted by sexism and all of us- regardless of gender identity- suffer as a result. Feminist therapy just means that I don't ignore the impact of gender and gender roles in therapy- you don't exist in a vacuum and neither should your therapy!

— Erin Copley, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Portland, OR

I actively think about and incorporate the impact of societal, political and social causes on people's well being. Therefore, I incorporate feminist theories and philosophies into my work. I think it is integral to therapy to look at the impact of oppression on mental health and feminist therapy helps me do this. One of my primary focuses on work with people, is empowerment. I believe in examining the role that power plays in people's lives and the therapy relationship.

— Cayla Panitz, Licensed Professional Counselor in Portland, OR

Mental health is a feminist issue! As a feminist therapist, I focus on helping my clients build on their existing strengths, explore intersecting identities, and break out of oppressive expectations and societal pressures that aren't serving them. My work recognizes the impact of the systems we live within, and honors the ways we've learned to cope and survive, while creating space to grow towards the lives we want. My clients are women and non-binary folks who want to thrive at work and home.

— Maya Borgueta, Psychologist in San Francisco, CA

Feminist therapy is a strength-based framework that is cognizant of power, bias, prejudice and systemic oppression. The problems the client brings to therapy are viewed in relationship to society at large. Rather than the problem being intrinsic to the person. In feminist therapy, we work diligently to foster an egalitarian relationship. This is the idea that you are the best expert of yourself and your problems. The therapist is bringing all their skills and training but doesn’t assert to be the expert of you. In this context, therapist and client collaborate as equals to help the client heal. Feminist therapists may use a variety of tools to help validate and normalize the client’s experiences. This includes analyzing how the social construction of gender has influenced the problems they are bringing to therapy – if at all. We may look at how power, unequal power, or the abuse of power impacts your well-being and capacity to thrive. Feminist therapy is particularly useful when considering experiences of inequality, race-based or gendered traumas, such as domestic and sexual violence.

— Natalia Amari, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Austin, TX

In my work, I focus on reworking gendered power dynamics with individuals and couples and addressing social inequities that keep partners form being collaborative with one another.

— Alana Ogilvie, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Portland, OR

I am very very aware of the specific, confusing and contradicting issues women face on a daily basis. It's been my honor to help women ( and men) recognize patriarchy in both its subtle and obvious ways , discern how this word view impacts their sense of themselves and other women . lastly try to learn to navigate the relentless onslaught of micro and macro aggressions of being a woman in our society

— Deborah Hellerstein, Therapist in Chicago, IL

My therapy is always sensitive to issues of power, privilege, and oppression along many dimensions, not just gender. I approach feminism from an intersectional perspective, and am mindful of my own privileged identities as well. I take a collaborative, curious approach with all clients and recognize clients' expertise on their own lives.

— Sheila Addison, Counselor in Oakland, CA

As a feminist therapist, I strive for therapy relationships that are as egalitarian as possible while still acknowledging power differences inherent in therapy. We will pay attention to your unique identity while working to understand how oppression you have experienced has affected your thoughts, feelings and ideas about yourself. Feminist therapy is for everyone -- people of any gender, race, sexual orientation, age, or religion.

— Cindy Blank-Edelman, Mental Health Counselor in Cambridge, MA

Ask another Feminist therapist for their outline of what it is, and the answer better be different! This is a theoretical framework that allows choice, freedom, and empowerment. Principles of my feminist therapy include curiosity, respect, enthusiastic consent, worthiness, advocacy, and disrupting power dynamics. Emphasis on harm reduction and safety navigating the world.

— Ginelle Krummey, Counselor in Asheville, NC