Feminist Therapy

What is Feminist Therapy?

I define feminist therapy as the practice of therapy informed by feminist political philosophies and analysis, grounded in multicultural feminist scholarship on the psychology of women, men and gender, which leads both therapist and client toward strategies and solutions advancing feminist resistance, transformation and social change in daily personal life, and in relationships with the social, emotional and political environments.

Feminist Therapy came into existence toward the end of the 1960s. Its appearance coincides with the second wave of feminism in the United States, and reflected the concerns raised by that movement. Its early adherents were psychotherapists, primarily women, who transformed their protests against sexism in the mental health professions into the development of a viable alternative for women seeking psychotherapy, in which clients would not encounter the sexism, misogyny, and stereotyping that were ubiquitous in the mental health field until then. Feminist Therapy is a theory that derives its inspiration and its wisdom from an in-depth interrogation of standpoints that are unavailable to dominant cultural simply because they have been relegated to the margins; the standpoints of Euro American women, people of color, lesbian, gay, and bisexual people, gender variant people, poor people, people with disabilities, immigrants and refugees.

Feminist practice derived from the realities that lie outside, beneath, and at variance from the visions of the dominant patriarchal mainstream. It is a theory that not only listens to, but privileges, the voices and experiences of those who have been defined as “other” by dominant cultures. It is a competency-based paradigm that perceives human beings as responsive to the problems of their lives, capable of solving those problems, and desirous of change. It is also a politically informed model that always observes human experience within the framework of societal and cultural realities, and the dynamics of power informing those realities. Feminist therapy does not simply study the ” other” in order to offer a neutral perspective on that experience. Rather, what is inherent in Feminist Therapy theory is the radical notion that silenced voices of marginalized people are considered to be the sources of the greatest wisdom. This is a shifting of the value of knowledge claims from those of culturally appointed experts to the expertise of the oppressed. This is a perspective which, when made central to analysis and practice, is potentially transformative of everything about therapy as usual in dominant cultures. In feminist practice, the margins become a new center epistemically and conceptually.

To learn more about my work on the topic of Feminist Therapy, I invite you to investigate the resources that follow.

Upcoming talks and workshops about Feminist Therapy

  • None at this time.

Written work about Feminist Therapy

This list represents all of the books I’ve written about Feminist Therapy, as well as recent chapters and journal articles, and older works that are frequently cited. A complete list of my work on this topic is available in my CV.

Recorded media about Feminist Therapy