This page is "for all the ladies," like they say in songs.
The unique pressures that descend upon women in our culture are of special interest to me as a counselor because so much time needs to be devoted on the individual and societal level to reducing the oppressive factors that make women prone to depression, anxiety, codependence, poor self-care, and abuse. Some of these factors can originate in families of origin, of course, but there are also many things affecting the mental health of girls and women that arise from the dysfunction of society at large.
I feel that during my own lifetime I've seen both good and bad changes happen for women. Good--more women getting educated, having careers, being able to sustain themselves enough to get out of or avoid bad relationships in which they are dependents. Bad--an increased emphasis on being thin, young, pretty, and perfect; confusion about putting it 'all out there' sexually and emotionally and the need to be safe and have boundaries; the fear of aging. In regard to the latter, I recently wrote a piece called Why Do Women Have To Be So Afraid Of Getting Old? which came from a very personal place.
I feel that body image and aging issues have exploded among women of all ages during my lifetime and that as a result there are very few women indeed who are able to achieve and maintain a healthy relationship with body and soul. I'll go further and add that doing so often involves active resistance to societal forces that tell us, women, that we can never be thin, young, pretty, sexy, smart, powerful or good enough. Even girls and women that come from good families struggle with these messages.
I feel that as a counselor my job is dual: to explore and understand the forces that give rise to the struggles my women clients face, and to build a toolkit to support and maintain their health and self-worth. I am very open about the fact that I am a feminist and that I believe that women are conditioned in our society to be overly accepting and codependent in our relationships as well as to cater to the needs of others, often beyond what is reasonable or healthy for us. It's not true of everyone but it is true of many of the women I help. And I believe that every woman who finds herself and grows stronger ends up helping other women and girls do the same later down the road.
More to come as my thoughts develop.