I’m often asked why I chose to focus my therapy practice on the unique needs of women. This is an easy decision for me. I’ve always been one to follow my passions. I spent 10 years working with high risk youth involved in the juvenile justice system. Working with at-risk youth was rewarding and challenging but more importantly I knew they were overlooked, often missed and that they needed understanding and compassionate support. After 10 years I was ready for a change and following the pursuit of passion, landed on focusing my work on the mental health needs of women.
I’m my experience in general therapy practice I noticed themes and heard commonalities amongst my female clients. Clients told me about the stress they experienced related to feeling not good enough, thin enough, smart enough, often from messages they see or hear in their daily. They spoke about the pressure to “not be too emotional” at home or at work, being criticized or shamed for any number of things by both men and women. Rates of depression and anxiety are at least twice as high for women as for men. They are more likely to experience sexual assault. According the the World Health Organization “Depression, anxiety, psychological distress, sexual violence, domestic violence and escalating rates of substance use affect women to a greater extent than men across different countries and different settings”.
Women face different safety and economic challenges than men do and this impacts our mental health as well. Women tend to be more relational focused than men are and traditional therapy stresses individuality and independence where women may need connectedness and community. This is reflected in my own life and the women I know personally in addition to what I hear from clients and strikes a nerve for me. I’ve always felt strongly about women’s health and women’s issues so making this the main focus of my private practice in Portland, Maine was a natural fit and one I felt great about doing. It can be a beautiful thing to be a woman and it can be a challenging difficult experience and for that reason, female specific services are important. I know I can be more effective as a therapist because I focus my training and work on the issues women face. I began to seek out additional professional education about treating women as a unique population.
I work with women to acknowledge these concerns and to identify what they personally are most impacted and influenced by. We work together as a team to identify and practice strategies for managing these concerns. My clients tell me they appreciate that team approach that honors their ability to decide what is best for themselves in a world full of experts telling us what’s best. I share my expertise, any skills or information I think may be helpful but ultimately, if I’m doing my job, the women I work with have cultivated an ability to check in with themselves about what will serve them most. I work as a sounding board, a witness, and observer, to acknowledge the challenges women face and to name those challenges. It’s a great fit for me and my clients, they experience growth and positive change and I am excited and energized about my work every day.
If you are a woman or female identified person interested in counseling and want to know more. Contact me today to set up a free phone consultation or ask about my women’s support group Wild Hearted Women.