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 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 was trained the tradition of the Stone Center at Wellesley in what was then called Feminist Therapy, but is now called "Relational Cultural Therapy". This is a strengths based approach that honors not only the specific needs of women but also takes into account the ethnic and cultural backgrounds that shape our worldview. Healing happens in relationships with others, and therapy is a way to practice this.

— Jessica Foley, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in Waltham, MA

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

In the room with a client, I am acutely aware of the ways in which the client (and myself) are impacted by the world outside of us. I am a collaborate therapist, meaning that I believe that while I hold expertise in psychology, that my client holds expertise in themselves and in their own experience. I honor my client's experience and story(ies) about themselves and how they are in the world. I am comfortable talking and thinking about the identities closest to people including race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, relationship status, role, occupation, size, documentation status, age, and ability. I am always thinking of the ways that people identify and how these identities impact them and I don't shy away from difficult topics if the client finds it worthy of discussion and contemplation, then I am happy to spend the time focusing on what topic(s) are most important to them.

— Abigail Weissman, Psychologist in POWAY, CA

I strongly identify with feminist therapy theory. I believe that individualism to the point of isolation (which a patriarchal, capitalist society promotes) leads to many of the challenges we live with as individuals and as a community. I work with clients to heal through connection, and finding more intimacy that feels comfortable to them.

— Maya Grodman, Counselor in Portland, OR

My therapeutic orientation is strengths-based, humanistic, relational, and informed by principles of social justice. I have an undergraduate degree in Women's Studies from UC Santa Cruz, and identify as a feminist.

— Carolyn Moore, Counselor in San Francisco, CA

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 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

My core values are centered in feminist, anti-oppression ideals (the type of feminism that includes and honors women of color and trans folks). It means every day, I work with folks like you to unlearn socialization of gender, sexuality, and so many other qualities to find out who you really are, or at least who you want to be today. In therapy, we will talk about and examine how this impacts your relationships, sense of worth, and other ways of being in the world.

— Anna McDonald, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in San Francisco, CA

I was there at the beginning of the feminist therapy movement in the 1970's. 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.

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

Our society makes it difficult for us to find our voice, speak our truth, and hold our ground. We often get hit with so many messages about how we "should be" that it's tough to actually see ourselves as we are. It can be incredibly empowering and healing to discover who we are on a core level and work to really nurture ourselves. Engaging with our inner wisdom can alleviate self-doubt and increase trust in ourselves. I consider it an honor to hold space for you; your intersections and complexities are welcome.

— Jessica Weikers, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist 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, Clinical Social Worker in Austin, TX

My approach to feminist therapy is about looking at power. I strive to be attentive to my power and reduce the power differential involved with my being the therapist. I think people are often struggling due to harm of oppressive power based in domination. Part of my work is to support your empowerment: the kind of power that comes from within and collectively and allows you and yours to make change and impact your lives. I want to work with you to support, nurture, and grow mutually empowering relationships. I take a relational feminist approach and see therapeutic goals as rooted in moving towards connection and increasing mutuality in relationships rather than focusing on independence and separation. Working collaboratively and paying attention to the larger social, cultural, historical, economic, and political context surrounding your life will shape our work together.

— Colette Gordon, Counselor in Portland, OR

The Feminist and Multicultural movements in therapy emphasize the impact of inequality on the individual and collective. As a therapist who values these perspectives, I want to understand the impact of inequality, oppression, and marginalization on the lives of my clients. Additionally, Feminist Therapy is not just for women and can be particularly useful for men, as it seeks to untangle the many ways gender roles and beliefs systems imposed on us (i.e. “boys don’t cry”) have harmed us all.

— Christy Booth, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Oakland, CA

I utilize a feminist therapeutic approach, meaning that I understand symptoms and experiences from a societal and cultural perspective. Rather than seeing symptoms a result of an inherent fault within an individual, I see it as a response to the environment. Oppression, discrimination, and other societal pressures impact how a person experiences their environment, and therefore this is important in viewing how to treat the symptoms they experience.

— Candace Whitman, Counselor in Chicago, IL

Feminist therapy is a radical response to traditional therapy, which was developed within the context of the patriarchy. It looks at individual experience, emotional and mental health as a response and reaction to sociopolitical oppression rather than a maladaptive choice.

— Pilar Dellano, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in San Francisco, CA

I have been a life-long feminist, starting in the Sixties. I was fortunate enough to have some wonderful role models while in college, and some very enlightened professors. Also, in grad school and my post-doc, I had supervisors and others who helped to shape me into the woman and psychologist I am today. I have fought for gender equality all my life. In my practice, I help women who are being criticized, or controlled, or intimidated by toxic men, and build up their sense of self-woe

— Patricia Field, Clinical Psychologist in Los Angeles, CA

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, Associate Clinical Social Worker 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

"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