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Feminist Therapist

How Second Wave Feminism Changed Psychotherapy and Me

Jessica Heriot

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Geisteswissenschaften, Kunst, Musik / Psychologie


Jessica Heriot discovered Women's Liberation in 1969 and became an avid feminist. A few years later, she was introduced to "feminist therapy" and decided to use her social work degree to counsel women. In 1973, she and four other women founded the Women's Growth Center in Baltimore (still in existence today) where psychotherapy for women was rooted in a feminist perspective. After working at the Women's Growth Center and at Jewish Family Services, she opened a private practice where she saw clients, primarily women, for 32 years. In 1992, she received a doctorate in social work from the University of Maryland School of Social Work and was an adjunct professor there for nine years. During her tenure, she designed the school's first course on clinical practice with women. Her dissertation about the role of mothers in incest families, "Maternal Protectiveness Following the Disclosure of Intrafamilial Child Sexual Abuse" was published in The Journal of Interpersonal Violence.

Her first foray into writing began with a chapter, "Double Bind: Healing the Split" in Women Changing Therapy, published in 1983. She co-edited The Use of Personal Narratives in the Helping Professions: A Teaching Casebook, published in 2002. The book described individual's personal experiences with mental health issues and problems in living she thought would be useful to students in social work, psychology, and counseling.

Her current book, Feminist Therapist: How Second Wave Feminism Changed Psychotherapy and Me recounts the seminal contributions of feminism on women's psychology, psychotherapy, and its impact on her own life and career.

"The author begins with a personal history that many women will understand. Although her own experience may differ from someone else's, her reactions/ behaviors will be very familiar. She has a rich history counseling women and describes her work within a psychological perspective. The book is a personal catharsis, which should not dissuade anyone, male or female, from appreciating the challenges faced by many women. Perhaps it is a prelude to #MeToo. Perhaps a better understanding of themselves could prevent some women from becoming entrapped in unwanted experiences."

"I especially enjoyed this interesting book when Dr. Heriot related the stories of encounters with her patients. Riding the Second Wave should be required reading for all future psychiatrists."

"This is a wonderful book, beautifully written. I met Dr. Heriot when we were both Ph.D. students in the early 1980's, and age cohorts as well. Reading the first part of the book about her life in those decades was like revisiting my own in many ways. But the second part of the book, about her life as a therapist and about therapy itself, as feminism continued to impact psychology and psychotherapy, was captivating. Chapter Nine, "Finding a Therapeutic Home", is worth the entire purchase price alone. Her ability to concisely explain what various theories of practice are, and how she wove her way through them to where she ". . . settled on a theory of practice", demonstrate her encompassing knowledge of and clarity of not only her own experience, but of a typically social work process of becoming a master therapist. I wish my therapists had been like her."

"Jessica Heriot is a dedicated feminist. Her efforts in helping women to understand and overcome the role that has been expected of women is commendable. Sounds like she has made a real impact. Kudos to her!"

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feminism, feminist, psychotherapy, psychology, second wave feminism, women's issues