5306 Ballard Ave NW, Seattle, WA  206-403-1148

Feminist Therapy 

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Have you ever felt that the traditional models of psychotherapy fall short in addressing the unique challenges faced by women, people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, and others relegated to the margins?

 

If so, you're not alone. Your mental health is influenced by your socio-political context, and when you are a member of a marginalized group in society, that context can have pronounced, chronic negative impacts on your mental health.

The emergence of feminist therapy in the late 1960s marked a transformative shift in mental health practices, offering a groundbreaking alternative that prioritizes the voices and experiences of those traditionally overlooked.

 

If you resonate with the idea of therapy that transcends gender stereotypes and challenges power dynamics, our team of feminist therapists in Seattle is here to provide a supportive space for your journey. Whether you're questioning traditional therapy approaches or seeking an inclusive and empowering environment, reach out to us. Schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation to discover how feminist therapy at Thrive for the People can be a catalyst for positive change in your personal growth and mental well-being.

What is Feminist Therapy?

 

Feminist therapy, born in the era of the second wave of feminism, stands as a postmodern, liberatory model that originated from a critical examination of the sexism, misogyny, and stereo- typing that were rampant in the dominant culture and especially within the mental health field at the time.

Grounded in the experiences of women, people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, and other marginalized groups, feminist therapy challenges the patriarchal norms prevalent in conventional therapy. At its core, feminist therapy values and centers the voices of the oppressed, considering their sources of wisdom. This integrative and competency-based paradigm views individuals as capable problem-solvers responsive to the challenges in their lives, seeking transformative change.

Despite the common misconception, feminist therapy is for anyone and everyone, not just women, and not just people who consider themselves to be feminists. It is a therapeutic practice that considers gender, race, disability, class, cultural displacement, and more, to create a holistic and intersectional approach to helping and empowering those who are considered "other" in society. 

Feminist therapy aims for equality inside, and outside, the therapist-client relationship

At the core of feminist therapy are values like inclusion, anti-racism, anti-ableism, collaboration, and empowerment. Feminist therapists seek to identify the roots of toxic patriarchal systems in their clients’ lives by examining gender, power dynamics, social context, and intersectional identities to understand the reasons behind a person's experience of distress or their engagement in ineffective or potentially harmful behaviors. In this, traditional understandings of mental health are also challenged, taking into account the limits of current definitions and research.

Feminist analysis explores how therapy itself can be made more equitable. In alignment with this perspective, feminist therapy critically examines and questions nearly every conventional aspect of the therapeutic process, ranging from the physical location of the office to diagnostic practices and the dynamics between therapist and client both within and beyond the therapy session. The application of feminist theory serves as a tool for analysis and challenge, with the ultimate aim of transforming psychotherapy into an actively liberatory and nonoppressive space. 

In feminist therapy, respect for your cultural background and lived experiences is paramount; you are the expert in your own life, and you know best about what you're experiencing. Establishing such equality in a therapeutic relationship is a powerful demonstration in itself, and provides the framework and a path for you to practice what that might look like in everyday life as well.

Feminist therapy doesn't confine itself to the therapy session; it's intricately linked to the daily events of life and the pervasive dynamics of power, privilege, and disempowerment inherent in all cultures. 

Therapy that considers your context can be the key to healing

The overall goal of feminist therapy is to create a trustworthy space in the therapeutic relationship, where you and a skilled feminist therapist can work as equals to explore the ways that remnants from patriarchal structures have shaped your mental health. 

After developing an understanding of your societal context and how it has manifested in mental health concerns, your feminist therapist will provide psychoeducation and support you as you dismantle messages you’ve received and internalized related to gender, age, race, phenotype, social class, sexual orientation, national origin, or culture.

 

Is feminist therapy for me?

Overall, feminist therapy has been shown to help with:

  • PTSD and trauma

  • Eating disorders

  • Substance dependence

  • Depression 

  • Anxiety and panic 

  • OCD

  • Stress and overwhelm

  • Burnout 

  • Couples and relationships 

  • Interpersonal violence

  • And more

Is Feminist Therapy Effective?

Over the last five decades, feminist therapy has evolved from a corrective approach against sexist treatment methods to a sophisticated, technically integrative model. It employs the analysis of gender, social position, and power as primary strategies for understanding human difficulties. With inclusivity at its heart, feminist therapy extends its practice to people of all genders, children, families, and larger systems, challenging emerging disempowering dynamics in both psychotherapy culture and society at large. Its impact is far-reaching, influencing mainstream models of client rights and therapist responsibilities.

Because feminist therapy is less rigidly structured than some other therapeutic approaches, it is still developing in terms of the studies of its efficacy. However, there is an ever-growing body of work that shows feminist therapy is indeed effective. That research includes results showing that feminist therapy is supportive in eating disorder recovery, that it can help with serious mental illness, that feminist therapy is important to utilize when providing therapy for domestic violence, and that it can improve how effective therapy feels for an individual, versus other modalities.

Aspects of feminist therapy are considered so effective, that they have been integrated into other therapies today. Consent agreements and laying out, in writing, clear expectations and responsibilities in the therapeutic relationship, all before a client works with a therapist, start with feminist therapy. 

How Does Feminist Therapy Work?

Typically, feminist therapy is structured by the client and the therapist, to best serve the client based on who they are, what they're experiencing, and what goals they have for their therapy. 

Trust is important in feminist therapy

When you begin work with a feminist therapist in Seattle, like the ones at Thrive for the People, you’ll first develop a trusting relationship with your therapist. Getting to know your therapist as they get to know you, and establishing a balanced relationship of equals is a typical starting place for feminist therapy. This may include your therapist sharing personal experiences with you, as clinically appropriate, to demonstrate their openness to you sharing your own truth. 

 

How can feminist therapy help me?

Feminist therapy integrates aspects of talk therapy to allow for self-analysis of experience and adds in additional activities and modalities to expand and improve your ability to meet your goals. Some specific activities and questions you may pursue in feminist therapy include:

  • Exploring questions about identity, like: what does it mean to you to be who you are? What do you like about who you are? What biases have you internalized about who you are? How can you navigate the broader social challenges that are forced upon you through messaging and action in society?

  • Reading as a source of education, to help you understand what social pressures and cultural expectations have impacted your mental health. This can help you stop cycles of self-blame, while also giving you more understanding of how change could look for you.

  • Skill building for assertiveness; setting effective boundaries, self-advocacy, looking at ways they can support efforts that look to change oppression.

  • Developing agency over one's own life and one's own understanding of oneself are integral to feminist therapy. Feminist therapy looks at life outside of the therapy session and finds places where you'll most benefit from agency and empowerment.

  • Understanding and exploring power dynamics in your life. Where are there power imbalances in your life? What changes would you like to make, in the face of these power imbalances?

  • Connection to community, sometimes through direct advocacy to empower you. Connection can also benefit you simply through knowing and interacting with people who understand who you are and where you're coming from.

Feminist therapy in Seattle, WA

A feminist therapist, like those at Thrive for the People in Seattle, WA, will work with you to help you make change for your own mental wellbeing. That change can be in how you approach and deal with the pressures and harms that are pushed on you by society, as well as participating in society. Looking at the ways you structure your life around social and cultural expectations can help you find places where those expectations can be abandoned or dismantled, thus helping alleviate mental health pressures as well. 

Understanding and exploring the power you do have can bring to light what is possible, and what you want in life. Feminist therapy can help you see that light, so you can use it as a guide as you negotiate the world around you.

If you're seeking a therapy experience that transcends stereotypes and considers the broader social and political contexts, explore the transformative possibilities of feminist therapy. Connect with Thrive for The People to embark on a journey that prioritizes your unique experiences and empowers you to navigate life's challenges with resilience and authenticity.

In-Person and Online Therapy

Our office is located in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle.

5306 Ballard Ave NW,
Seattle, WA

Can’t make it into the office? We also offer online therapy for your convenience.

Schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation to see if we are a good fit.

LET'S CHAT

We are excited to welcome Maricor Coquia, LMHC, as the newest member of our team. Mari has openings for individual and couples therapy.