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

Historically and today, the mental health industry has enacted violence on people with targeted identities. Feminist and anti-oppressive frameworks help us be conscious of how “mental health” is constructed in society and how expectations around wellness impact people and our subordinated and privileged identities. You are expert in your own life and your perspectives matter. Our stories are important–especially those that are unheard and unacknowledged in dominant narratives.

— Marissa Lee, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Los Angeles, 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 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

— Dr. Patricia Field, Clinical Psychologist in Los Angeles, CA

I believe that the counseling relationship should be equitable, not hierarchical. Intersectional feminism helps inform how one's marginalized and privileged identities have impacted one's mental health in the different systems we navigate.

— Eliza McBride, Licensed Professional Counselor Intern in Beaverton, OR

Feminism and a commitment to social justice guide my work. I consult the DSM-5 and provide a diagnosis when appropriate, but I find that more frequently the issues clients face are the result of systemic oppression rather than a personal problem.

— Christina Olson, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Vancouver, WA

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

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 am committed to the culture change necessary to heal and uplift women, non-binary folks, and everyone who experiences gendered violence. My approach includes processing internalized oppression due to systemic violence, healing interpersonal violence, and building a critical awareness of everyday sexism. Together we work toward self-power, community power, and honest expression of our experiences.

— Caitlin Keitel, Therapist in Portland, OR

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

I took many graduate and undergraduate classes related to women's studies, feminist theory, LGBTQ issues, and marginalization experienced by women. I identify as a feminist and an activist and have worked with women in several treatment settings.

— Chelsea Kazmier, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Satellite Beach, FL

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

My interest in psychotherapy began when I was introduced to feminist therapy while working as a sexual assault crisis counselor. I completed a comprehensive training on feminist therapy with the Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre. I incorporate feminist principles of recognizing the systemic origins of personal struggles, how oppression effects mental health, and fostering strength for resistance.

— Naomi Reesor, Psychotherapist in Vaughan,

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 San Diego, CA

A Feminist Therapy approach means that I bring a strength based lens to the work I do with people. And it means that the work isn't just about personal healing, it is also about understanding the impact and influences of our surroundings, how the inequities and injustices of the world we live in impacts our health and wellbeing.

— Sydney Bell, Psychotherapist in ,

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

Psychotherapy is an oppressive, ableist, and patriarchical social construction…and one of many resources people use to help cope with modern life. The fact that access to these commodified resources is determined by access to money and health care? Pretty messed up. There are many ways to address life concerns and this is only one of them. I’m down for interrogating the problems with psychotherapy even as we utilize it --with an anti-oppressive framework --to improve your life.

— Marissa Lee, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Los Angeles, CA

Feminist interventions consider cultural context that impacts how we form and maintain relationships, as well as impacting our sense of self and well-being. I will look beyond your “presenting problem” and symptoms to your relationships with loved ones and family and the greater context of your world and how that impacts your functioning and well-being. This tends to be a de-pathologizing approach that focuses on the whole person rather than focusing on a list of symptoms.

— Marshall Bewley, Psychologist in Denton, TX

Society dictates so much of how we present ourselves to others. Erasing the "messages" we are taught and really seeing ourselves as we are can be incredibly empowering and eye-opening. Even though my approach is very integrative, I see my clients through a very feminist lens.

— Heather Sexton, Counselor in SAINT CLAIRSVILLE, OH

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 practice and approach are deeply rooted in Feminist Therapy theory. I believe that transparency, shared power, awareness of oppression, and intersectionality are non-negotiables.

— Lauren Grousd, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in Portland, ME

"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

Feminism is the understanding that an individual's gendered experience intersect with race/ethnicity, class, power and privileges. I also believe that, unlike western forms of therapy, wellness does not end with symptom-reduction. Wellness includes an individual's ability to engage intentionally with others, become empowered to action, and feel motivated to move from a deeper place of value.

— Jean-Arellia Tolentino, Post-Doctoral Fellow in Walnut Creek, CA