Mona Cardell, Ph.D.        Licensed Psychologist

      Providing Affordable Feminist Psychotherapy in the Philadelphia Region

What's Feminist Therapy?

First and foremost, feminist therapy incorporates a worldview that no one should be constrained to stereotypical roles on the basis of their gender. We all have the right to chart our own course in life, rather than following someone else's expectations of what men are supposed to do and what women are supposed to do. While feminist women often seek out feminist therapists, you don't have to be a feminist or even be a woman to benefit from a feminist approach. Feminist therapy creates a setting within which clients can work towards their own empowerment, as well as learn how to relate to others in ways that are responsible, healthy, and caring. Feminist therapy is especially well-suited to the needs of LGBT clients seeking psychotherapy, because feminist therapists do not make judgments about clients based on how closely their gender presentation or gender identity matches the body they were born into.
Feminist therapists are aware that in traditional psychotherapy, there is a big power differential between the therapist and the client. Traditional approaches often involve diagnoses established by the "expert," and interpretations made freely and seemingly with great authority by the "expert." Feminist therapy, by contrast, is often characterized by a greater recognition of clients' strengths, less tendency to focus on "treating a diagnosis," and a more mutual recognition of authority. The therapist invites clients to take an active role in describing and making meaning of their difficulties, and also in shaping the course of the treatment. The therapist attempts to reduce the power differential by inviting feedback from the client about how the process is going, and hearing suggestions from the client about ways the process might be changed for the better.

Feminist therapists also pay attention to other issues, such as race, class, cultural background, sexual orientation, age, ability/disability, religious belief or spiritual practice, etc., each of which may be having some impact on the client, as well as on the process of the therapy itself. A feminist therapist may encourage a client to explore the ways in which these different aspects of identity and context influence their experience in the world. Likewise, how these factors play out between the client and the therapist is also fair game for examination in feminist therapy. Through honest discussion of differences that may exist between a client and therapist, greater understanding can often be achieved, and as a result, a more effective therapy relationship can be developed.

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