Woman’s empowerment comes in part from feeling strong enough to make her own decisions without feeling as much need for approval from others. In the security of a therapeutic relationship a woman can learn to express difficult feelings like anger and frustration. It can be healing to express these feelings to another woman and be heard and respected. From this, more clarity and a sense of what’s right for the individual can come. Even regarding body size and image, women need to feel supported and encouraged to have their own experience, not to try to mold themselves into what someone else wants them to look like or feel.
The need for others’ approval can be deep seated in women. It’s scary to speak your mind in the face of controversy or disagreement. It’s hard to hold your own sense of who you are and who you want to be. It is important to have the opportunity to explore your values and what feels “right” to you on more than a superficial level. Psychotherapy for women can teach you about yourself and help you experience validation for what you believe and not only how you look.
We know about assertiveness and how to ask for what you want in a firm yet non-aggressive way. That is not so easy in and of itself. In addition, the question is, how does a woman know what she wants? Women are encouraged and enticed into countless options for action. It could be how to dress, wear your hair, what kind of man or other woman will make you happy in a relationship. Women are often castigated for not knowing what they want. I think this impression may come from women trying to mold themselves into
what they think they should be, then being unable to keep up the front.
How does self-exploration work? Sometimes there is a shift, an opening, that allows another way of seeing yourself or understanding yourself. Sometimes writing can help for example writing an outline of your life and its themes, writing down your dreams, or reflecting on the “why” beneath some of your interests and activities. Other ways of understanding yourself are: understanding your family and how your felt growing up, understanding your emotions and feeling permission to feel and identify them, and feeling more grounded in your physical self so you can access information from your body.
Psychotherapy for women by women opens up choices and options for healing. Having a female therapist offers you someone to work with who has also had to work on her own identity as a woman and can hopefully understand the struggles you face.
Photograph by George Hodan available at Public Domain Pictures.