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

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 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

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

I promote an egalitarian relationship with my clients, acknowledging they are the experts of their lives. I work with all clients, regardless of gender or sexual identity, on identifying areas of their life they experience oppression, and how it impacts their overall wellbeing. One of my greatest joys as a counselor is witnessing individuals become empowered to make choices and take actions that promote wellbeing, regardless of whether those choices are congruent with societal norms.

— Mary Mills, Counselor in Seattle, WA

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

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

Many early therapists operated from a belief that the therapist was the all-knowing person in the room and that therapy worked best when the therapist maintained his (since most early therapists were male) distance. Most therapists today no longer hold this belief system. Instead, we view the work of therapy as a collaboration between two people who each bring something important and unique to the table.

— Marla Cass, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in San Francisco, CA

My approach is built on a foundation of feminist, anti-oppression values. I believe therapy is ineffective if the greater social context a person lives in is not examined critically; most of the time, doing so is empowering for all genders.

— Laurel Roberts-Meese, Associate 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

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

"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

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

Women experience their own unique set of issues. From politics, to personal. We also struggle disproportionately with self-esteem, body image issues, and body acceptance. Our place in this world is changing rapidly, and I can help you sort out your feelings and find validation.

— Lisa Epstein, Licensed Professional Counselor Intern in Garland, TX

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

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

We live in a patriarchal society and there are many real ways women feel oppressed in this society. I work to help women who are struggling with feeling oppressed (by diet culture, monogamy, or the various other ways we experience oppression) find more freedom in their lives.

— Tivoli Hendricks, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in Lexington, KY

The inextricability of personal and political realities calls us to explore distributions of power in our lives, and cast a wider frame of context and historicity to comprehend ourselves. Questioning the social construction of systems and the beliefs they generate disrupts their hold. Humility fortifies my capacity to grow as a therapist, as I resist pathologizing deviance and difference, challenge binaries, purity, certainty, hierarchies, and dichotomies.

— Jessamyn Wesley, 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 extends beyond gender to examine 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, and challenges binaries, purity, certainty, and dichotomies.

— Jessamyn Wesley, Licensed Professional Counselor in portland, OR

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