The field of psychology has long been dominated by white males. Many of the models used today in counseling, psychology, and psychiatry are models historically created by white males. Hence, as practitioners, it’s our responsibility to ensure that we seek to utilize methods and practices that are more reflective of the demographics we now serve.
The US Census Bureau reported in July 2019 that there were 166.6 million females in the US as opposed to 161.7 million males. As the demographics of the US continue to change, practitioners in the helping field must continue to identify ways for empowering women amid women’s issues. Women’s issues will continue to rise as the population of women increases. Most practitioners would agree that most of the clients coming to therapy are women. Hence, as helping practitioners, we must hold space to empower women as we partner with them to navigate through their individual experiences.
It is essential to create space for women in the therapeutic relationship to address issues that they may feel unsafe addressing in other spaces. Women have been long conditioned to care for others to the detriment of themselves. Hence, it is imperative to utilize a strength-based approach to help women reconnect to parts of themselves that they may have shut down or disconnected from. This disconnection may be due to trauma, lessons and judgments from others, past conditioning, or survival. As practitioners, we must teach women how to nurture themselves so that they may learn to identify with, and listen to, their own internal cues so that they can begin to learn to regulate their emotions.
Additionally, creating space for women to address their intersection of identities is vital. Facilitating space for women to address topics which may be difficult for them to address in other spaces is essential to improve their chances of healing. Topics such as the below ones are often difficult to discuss in familial spaces. Thus, requiring the counseling relationship to be even more adaptive and flexible to meet the needs of the clients coming in for services.
· Sexual Desire
· Sexual Orientation
· Toxic Relationships
· Domestic Violence
· Mental Health Issues
Within the therapeutic relationship exists the opportunity to partner with clients and teach them skills to help them move on from therapy. Self-care is an essential skill, particularly for women, who have been long conditioned to care for everyone else but themselves. Teaching the skills of self-care is about much more than teaching women to go to spas and to get their hair and nails done. Of course, these can be great and rewarding experiences, however, self-care goes much deeper. Self-care is about understanding personal boundaries and personal values. It’s about understanding personal limits, knowing what things fuels you and what things take away from you. It’s about knowing yourself and learning how to regulate your own emotions as well as how to express them effectively.
Utilizing a strength-based approach to self-care, helping practitioners can teach women to know how to care for themselves during times of stress and overwhelm as well as during times of happiness and peace. Knowing how to adjust your own self-care routine to give yourself that extra care and support you need without experiencing judgment, shame, or guilt is vital to go from existing to thriving. Practitioners who emphasize a wellness approach when empowering women can teach women the value of caring for themselves at all times not only when they are in crisis or toxic situations.
The therapeutic relationship can be a vital support of empowering women amid women’s issues. The therapeutic relationship which values autonomy, authenticity, and healthy rapport is an essential tool in supporting and empowering the women who seek support in therapy. Utilizing strength-based and wellness-based approaches, helping practitioners can empower women to practice healthy skills, including self-care skills, to care for themselves in times of peace as well as times of crises. It is vital that helping practitioners teach women the skills to regulate and express their emotions in ways that continue to facilitate the healing process.