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

I believe we cannot own ouselves without becoming aware of the world around us. We must be sensitive to the disparities that exist around and among us. The truths of the lives of women and girls must be not only heard, but appreciated and integrated, as we seek healing as a society, as a world, as a Universe. My treatment energies are strength-focused and I seek to help others by bearing witness to the reality of their pain and by walking beside them as they grow and flourish.

— Alicia A. Williams, Ed.D., Psychologist in Ewing, NJ

Women are dis-empowered in this culture on a regular basis. I support young women and adults in recognizing where they are losing their voice and how to re-ignite their strength.

— Sheri Truax, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Chesapeake, VA

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

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

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, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in San Francisco, CA

Feminist therapy explores the impact of how we form and maintain relationships, as well as impacting our sense of self and well-being. Cultural context means that all parts of your cultural identity, such as race, ethnicity, gender identity/expression, age, sexual/romantic orientation, religious orientation, and ability status are important in exploring your whole experience during the therapy process.

— Canh Tran, Associate Clinical Social Worker in Seattle, WA

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, well, money and health care? Pretty messed up. There are many ways to address mental health or life concerns and this is only one of them. I’m down for interrogating the problems with psychotherapy even as we utilize it to improve your life.

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

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

My relationship with clients is based on authentic connection and equality between therapist and client. I help empower clients to understand the social factors that contribute to their issues and to claim their unique identity. I often use techniques such as role-playing and assertiveness-training to help clients build their identity and self-esteem, to the degree they can behave freely, rather than conform to cultural expectations and gender roles that others believe are appropriate.

— Catherine Sullivan-Windt, Counselor in Baltimore, MD

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 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

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 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feminist Therapy focuses on societal structures impact on us. It is a strengths-based model working collaboratively with each client. This therapy assists in navigating the structure and dynamics of our environments and how they impact our lives and well being in disruptive ways. My work identifies the breakdown and we then together identify how person and environment experience marginalization so we can begin building in skills and frameworks to heal.

— Amanda Martin, Clinical Social Worker in Ada, MI

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, 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

— 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

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