Counselor for women

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Counseling for Womens Issues

Women today face no shortage of challenges.  Between unrealistic expectations forced on women by relentless marketing and the fact that more women than ever before are working AND managing life at home, it’s no wonder women often come to our offices overwhelmed, stressed and tired.  Women seem to continue to add responsibilities and expectations without dropping anything they are already doing.

Here’s a few interesting statistics from the United States Department of Labor:

  • 70% of women with children under the age of 18 participate in the workforce
  • In 2014 there was 21.4 wage gap between men and women’s pay (for full-time, year-round employees)
  • 57% or women (all ages)  participate in the workforce

What we know is that in many households where women work, they still tend to do far more of household management duties than their partners.  It’s not surprising the National Institute of Mental Health reports that both anxiety and depression are more common in women than men.  There are also certain kinds of depression that are unique to only women. Women may experience symptoms of depression or mood swings at times of hormonal change, such as perinatal depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and perimenopause-related depression.  Let’s take a closer look at each of these.

Women and Depression

Perinatal depression – Depression that happens during pregnancy or within a year after delivery is called perinatal depression.  According to the Center for Women’s Mood Disorders, depression is one of the most common complications of pregnancy.  Many women, 50-85%, experience some form of “baby blues” after birth but in up to 10% of pregnancies the baby blues may escalate into postpartum depression.  Symptoms of Postpartum Depression include:

  • Feeling sad, depressed, and/or crying a lot
  • Intense anxiety; rumination, obsessions
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or incompetence
  • Fatigue, sleep disturbance
  • Change in appetite
  • Poor concentration
  • Feeling inadequate to cope with new infant
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Loss of interest in usual activities

It’s important to be aware of that these symptoms may escalate quickly and may show up even months after giving birth, although most common in weeks following delivery.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) –  PMDD is characterized by significant premenstrual mood disturbance to the degree that it may impair functioning and impact relationships. Women with PMDD may experience increased and even severe depression or anxiety during the week or two before each menstrual cycle.  Women with PMDD should experience a symptom-free interval between menses and ovulation.  It can be difficult to evaluate when mood issues are the result of PMDD and when there may be an underlying mood disorder.

Perimenopause-related Depression –  The transition time between normal period cycles to the complete cessation of menses is called perimenopause.  During this time of hormone fluctuation, there is an increased risk of depression.  In addition to traditional depressive symptoms, women may also experience symptoms of hot flashes, insomnia, vaginal dryness, and mood problems.  It’s important to know sometimes these symptoms escalate gradually being particularly difficult to identify and treat.

Women and Trauma

We also know that women are more likely to experience some forms of trauma than their male counterparts.  Women are more likely than men to experience sexual abuse at all ages, in fact, the most common trauma for women to experience is sexual assault or child sexual abuse (according to the National Center for PTSD) About 1 in 3 women will experience some kind of sexual assault in their lifetime.   According to the Violence Policy Center women also represent 85% of those involved in intimate partner violence.  It’s difficult to estimate the number of women who experience emotional and verbal abuse in their relationships, but the effects of these kinds of abuse are often as painful as physical wounds.

Traumatic events and abusive relationships can be devastating and may lead to an increase in symptoms such as anxiety, depression, flashbacks, fear, loss of interest or pleasure in activities, guilt, insomnia or nightmares, or emotional detachment or unwanted thoughts.  Counseling can be an integral part of recovering from the effects of trauma.

Women and Eating Disorders:

According to the National Eating Disorder Association, women are twice as likely to experience an eating disorder as men.  The rate of eating disorders has steadily increased since the 1950’s and unfortunately, it does not look like it’s decreasing anytime soon.  There are many ways this disordered eating can look, too many to go into here, but as many 30 million Americans struggle with some form of it.  Eating Disorders are commonly linked to mood disorders as well.

As we’ve reviewed in this blog women face very real challenges that may require extra support and understanding.

How can counseling help?

The good news is that all the issues addressed above can be treated and often respond well to talk therapy.  Counseling offers a safe place to explore and process your own unique feelings and set of circumstances as well as work toward improved coping and increased support.

Our vision is to inspire and empower change in our clients.  We focus on guiding our clients to rally their strengths, discover new strengths and ideas so that you can first overcome and second reach your goals.   If we can help, then please contact us, click here, so you can either give us a call or send us an email.

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Women's counselling

Medicare & Private Health Rebates now available for online counselling

What are women’s issues in mental health?

Although men and women are more similar than they are different, they do experience different mental health issues at different rates. For example, depression (specifically post-natal depression), eating disorders, anxiety, and trauma are all more common in women. There are also more gender specific issues such as pregnancy, breastfeeding, and surrogacy that women may seek support for.

It is very important for women to look after their mental health, as they are often caregivers, despite changing gender roles. Being a caregiver can be stressful and taxing, which in turn can have an impact on mental health. You cannot look after others if you do not care for yourself first.

Although these issues can also affect men, it is important to look at these issues though a women’s health lens in order to provide the best possible treatment and support for women seeking help.

Support is available

At Psychology Melbourne, we provide gender-sensitive, caring, and effective treatment for a variety of different concerns. Although women’s mental health issues are diverse, we take a tailored approach through our matching session, in order to find the best psychologist for you personally.

Key mental health issues for women

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Eating disorders
  • Trauma and PTSD
  • Caregiver stress
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • Post-natal depression, which effects up to 15% of women in the year following birth of their baby
  • Surrogacy
  • Menopause
  • Pelvic pain such as endometriosis and vulvodynia


Broadly, most disorders have a combination biological, psychological, and social factors causing the onset. Some women may be predisposed to depression or anxiety. Hormone levels during adolescence, pregnancy, or menopause can all potentially increase risk of developing disorders such as depression. Stress is also a major psychological trigger for decreased mental wellness. Some coping strategies are detailed further below.

There are also social components that increase risk for poor mental health in women. Gender-based and sexual violence are major issues for women in all walks of life, which in turn can lead to trauma, homelessness, poverty, substance abuse, and physical ill-health. It is important to take a holistic view of women’s health, and acknowledge the role that social and physical factors have in a variety of mental health issues.

Strategies to cope

  • Psychological support from professionals, friends and family is very powerful in combatting mental health issues.
  • Staying physically active and healthy, including appropriate sleep, a good diet, and exercise.
  • Relaxation and mindfulness strategies- belly breathing, yoga, body scan exercises.

When to seek support

Encouragingly, help is readily available. It is useful to seek help from a psychologist if your everyday life is impaired- sleeping difficulty, altered eating, feeling lost or angry, inability to work or study, or severe relationship changes. If you are feeling suicidal, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

At Psychology Melbourne, we can help with coping strategies and ongoing support. The most common treatment option is cognitive-behavioural therapy (focused on working through distressing thoughts and feelings), however a personalised treatment plan will be discussed with your psychologist.



Counseling for Women in Pooler, GA—Counselors and Therapists

All of our experiences are in some way, entirely unique to ourselves. No one has been through exactly what you have, and no one ever will. But there are some experiences that are easier for similar people to empathize with.

Even though each experience is unique, there are many situations in a woman’s life that are commonly shared amongst other women. These experiences can be full of joy, or they can be darkened with sorrow, pain, and frustration. When you feel as if you are all alone, know that Thriveworks Pooler is here to extend an empathetic hand and walk beside you as together, we fight for the happy, healthy life you deserve.

What Is Counseling for Women?

In many ways, Counseling for Women is very similar to counseling not specific to women. At Thriveworks Pooler, you will always be the center of the counseling session. Afterall, you know yourself better than any counselor ever will. Our job is walk with you and guide you towards a healthier, happier path. Only you can determine what path that is exactly.

Thriveworks Pooler also practices judgment-free counseling. Part of growing will always be failing, and it’s easier to fail in a safe, protected space. That is why we strive to first and foremost be empathetic towards whatever your situation is. Your emotions are entirely valid, no matter how wild or incomprehensible they may seem. Together, we can work through the lies intertwined with the truth, heal from any pain, and grow together towards that life you’ve always dreamed of.

Great, but what is counseling for women specifically? What’s great about counseling for women at Thriveworks Pooler is that it is specific to whatever you need it to be. The idea behind counseling for women is that some issues aren’t comparable to what a man might experience, or how you react to it might be very different. It’s easier to heal and grow when you feel like you have someone who truly understands at your side, which is why it’s important to have a counselor you’re comfortable with. Thriveworks Pooler is making that easier to find by offering counseling specifically for women

What Does a Counseling for Women Session Look Like?

There is never an issue too big or too small for Thriveworks Pooler counseling. Any battle, concern, insecurity, or hurt you’re facing is welcome in a counseling session.

With Women’s Counseling, there are some topics we address more frequently than others. Some examples include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Low Self-Esteem
  • Infertility
  • Post-Partum Depression
  • Menopause
  • “Empty Nest” issues
  • Domestic Violence or Abuse
  • PTSD related to Past Abuse or Sexual Assault
  • Eating Disorders
  • Relationship stress

Again, these are just a few of the issues we can address in a Counseling for Women session. Studies have shown that women are more likely to experience anxiety and depression than men. Although far from being gender-specific, anxiety and depression can look differently in women than men, and personalized therapy can go a long way in the healing and growth process.

It’s a sad but true fact that gender-stereotyping and assumptions have not gone away. For a long time, it was believed women’s hippocampus—the emotional regulation part of the brain—was larger than men’s, leading many to claim it was the cause for women’s higher distress levels. But a study published in 2015 showed the brains of men and women to be strikingly similar. Which leads many of the differences to stem from the unique biological, environmental, and psychosocial factors women face.

These are factors we can address, along with other cross-gender factors, in a counseling session with Thriveworks Pooler. Our goal is to get you to a place where you are happy, healthy, and fulfilled. It may seem like a dream right now, but with a little work it is more than possible.


For women counselor

What are Women’s Issues?

Today, more than 29 million women in America (or approximately 23%) struggle with mental illness. Women’s issues represent a broad scope of mental health concerns and conditions that women may face at some point in their lives. Some are specific to the female experience while others can affect all genders. Regardless, women may experience these concerns differently. Women’s issues can significantly impact the daily lives and overall well-being of women, and through education and awareness, not only may these issues be better understood by others, but also better understood by the women they are affecting.

There are many issues women may face throughout their lifespan, and while each woman is different, and thus may struggle with different issues, some of the most common includes:

  • Depression – More than just feeling sad, depression is a chronic illness that can plague a woman for a particular period or can be ongoing for her entire life. Depression affects the mind as well as the body. Depression has many emotional and physical symptoms, and in severe cases, women may experience suicidal thoughts. Some of the most common signs of depression are feeling hopeless, lack of motivation, trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, isolating oneself socially, irritability, and overall sadness that persists no matter what a person does.
  • Anxiety – Everyone experiences feelings of anxiety in their lives, whether it’s worrying about an upcoming social situation or feeling nervous about public speaking. In most people. these feelings are normal. For other people, however, an anxiety disorder can be all-consuming and debilitating. Women who suffer from anxiety disorders can find carrying out even the simplest daily tasks to be overwhelming and they spend much of their days in a state of stress and panic. The most common anxiety symptoms are obsessive thoughts, constantly feeling nervous or on edge, racing heart, difficulty breathing, sleep problems, and rumination about past traumatic events.
  • Eating Disorders – When people think of eating disorders they typically think of anorexia and bulimia, however, there are many other types of eating disorders including binge eating disorder and orthorexia. Eating disorders are not actually so much about the food, and the disorder and associated behaviors are typically a symptom of a deeper issue. Although the underlying issue may be different for each person, the common thread is typically rooted in a person’s beliefs about themselves from early childhood. When a woman suffers from an eating disorder, it’s common for her to have low self-worth, experience feelings of depression, social isolation, anxiety around eating and weight gain, and have obsessive thoughts about food. Eating disorders can affect all genders but are most commonly found in women.
  • Postpartum Depression – A form of clinical depression, postpartum depression occurs after childbirth. Postpartum depression can begin immediately following birth or can take some time to present develop. In some women, it can subside in a few weeks while others may struggle for years, especially if they do not receive help. The severity of postpartum depression spans a wide spectrum, from mild sadness to postpartum psychosis. The most prevalent symptoms of postpartum depression include loss of appetite, low energy and motivation levels, irritability, anxiety, lack of bonding with the baby, and sleeplessness.
  • Bipolar Disorder – Formerly known as manic-depression, bipolar disorder is a mood disorder caused by the brain. Bipolar disorder can begin suddenly or develop slowly over time. It is characterized by severe mood swings from high-high to low-low, or between mania and depression. While mood swings are normal for everyone, suffering from bipolar disorder may be crippling and make carrying out normal daily tasks seem impossible. When a person has bipolar disorder, they may experience several mood cycles each year, while other’s moods may change from depression to mania daily, which is known as rapid-cycling.
  • Borderline Personality – Borderline personality disorder is a mental health condition characterized by negative thoughts and disturbances. The emotional suffering caused by borderline personality disorder makes it difficult for a person to live a “normal” life and even the smallest setback in a day can seem catastrophic and overwhelming. Women who have borderline personality disorder experience feelings of fear, paranoia, reckless behavior, irritability, depression, thoughts of suicide or self-harm, and violent outbursts.
  • Domestic Violence – There are many types of domestic violence, some of which can take place in childhood and others which a woman may face in her current situation. Domestic violence may be emotional, physical, verbal, or psychological. Some of the most common ways that domestic violence presents itself are through name-calling, stalking, violence, humiliation, and manipulation by the abuser. When a woman is in an abusive relationship, she may feel worthless, depressed, isolated or anxious. Women who are in violent or abusive relationships often come to believe that they deserve to be abused or that it’s their fault.
  • Sexual Abuse – Sexual abuse can take many forms, from sexual harassment to rape, but the underlying thread is that the abuser exerts power over their victim through unwanted sexual acts. And although a person of any gender can experience sexual abuse, women are, by far, most commonly victimized.  Women who have suffered from sexual abuse often blame themselves, rationalizing the abuse as their fault for dressing a certain way, behaving a certain way, drinking too much, etc. While the sexual abuse itself is hugely traumatic, women who have been sexually abused also often experience depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), struggle to form relationships, feel unsafe in future sexual situations, and for some, they may even experience suicidal thoughts.
  • Discrimination – Throughout history women have experienced many forms of oppression, and many of these sexist or discriminatory practices continue today. Women still struggle with equal treatment and pay in the workplace, sexual harassment, derogatory comments from men, feeling unsafe in certain situations, and general feelings of oppression. When a woman is discriminated against or treated unfairly, it can take its toll, mentally, over time. Women may come to believe that they deserve this type of treatment and may have feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, and depression after experiencing persistent gender discrimination.
  • Hormonal Changes – While every woman experiences hormonal changes throughout her life, some women can struggle with these changes and experience both mental and physical difficulties as a result. The most significant hormonal changes that women experience are puberty, pregnancy and the postpartum period, and menopause. Many women struggle with the physical and emotional changes that take place in their bodies during each of these hormonal phases and may experience mood changes that are more drastic than what is considered to be normal. The emotional challenges that occur with hormonal changes leave many women susceptible to anxiety and depression.
  • Infertility – Infertility can be a devastating experience for women who are trying to get pregnant. Most women assume they will be able to get pregnant when they are ready, yet this not the reality for many women, resulting in feelings of despair, hopelessness, and blame. It’s common for women who are struggling with infertility to experience depression, emotional trauma, feelings of worthlessness, guilt, and jealousy or resentment.
  • Low Self Esteem/Self Worth – Many women experience low self-esteem at some point in their lives, but for others, this is a more serious concern. Self-esteem issues often have deep roots that may be traced back to childhood, an abusive relationship, or bullying. When a woman experiences self-esteem issues she may experience obsessive negative thoughts, feelings of being unloved, helplessness, feeling unwanted, insecurity, and may be attracted to destructive relationships that validate these feelings. These feelings associated with low self-esteem can add to an ongoing cycle of shame and self-loathing that is difficult to break without seeking help.

Why Seek Therapy for Women’s Issues?

These women’s issues can have serious emotional, physical, and mental health effects that run deeper than what’s considered to be normal. They vary in severity from mild to extreme, and in many cases, women are not able to cope with these issues on their own. Therapy pairs women with an experienced professional who can assist them in coming to terms with their unique issues and help them seek the treatment they need to improve their health and mental well-being.

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Treatment Options for Women’s Issues

Depending on the presenting issue and the individual circumstances, there are various treatments and types of therapy available to address women’s issues. A treatment plan for any mental health concern typically consists of talk therapy (psychotherapy), medication, or a combination of the two (which is often the most effective approach).

  • Psychotherapy – Women’s issues are often treated with psychotherapy, which is essentially talk-therapy or counseling. Psychotherapy may take place with a psychologist, psychiatrist, or other mental health professional. The goal of talk therapy is allowing women to understand their underlying issues, the concerns or mental health conditions they are currently facing, and to give them tools and strategies for changing their behaviors or dealing with painful experiences.
  • Behavioral Therapy – While there are several different types of behavioral therapy, cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) is one of the most commonly used (and effective) forms of therapy. For women’s issues, CBT could be helpful in identifying the unhelpful thought patterns that lead to difficult emotions, and thus, unhealthy behaviors. CBT can also help clients then begin to replace those thoughts with more neutral or positive ones. and learn to change them to be more positive and realistic.
  • Medication – Depending on the particular issue and the circumstances unique to the woman, some issues might be treated with psychiatric medications.  There are many different classes of psychiatric medications such as anti-anxiety agents, antidepressants, mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, etc. Of course, it is vital to work with a doctor or psychiatrist to find the medication (and dosage) that is the best fit.
  • Alternative Therapies – There are many alternative types of therapy that can be helpful for a wide range of issues, or as an excellent addition to more traditional treatment plans. Some common alternative approaches include mindfulness and meditation, diet and exercise, creative/art therapy, biofeedback, hypnosis, and social support groups.

What to Look for in a Therapist

The most important thing for women to remember when seeking help for any mental, physical, or emotional issue is that they are not alone. There are counselors in any city across the country, as well as medical doctors and online therapists who can assist a woman in coping with or overcoming an issue that she struggles with. Deciding to seek therapy is an essential first step in healing that women should feel proud of.

When looking for a therapist, it’s important to choose an individual whom you feel comfortable to share and build a trusting relationship with. While some women prefer a female therapist, that is not to say only female therapists are capable of dealing with women’s issues. It is encouraged to make an initial appointment with a couple of therapists, as finding a good “fit” may not happen with the first therapist you identify.  Other things to consider when looking for a therapist are the finances and/or insurance policies accepted, the location, and the therapist’s area of focus.

It is important for women to look for practitioners who have an area of focus related to their specific issue(s). Most therapists will specialize in one or more areas, so you can seek out help from someone trained in eating disorders, sexual abuse, depression, anxiety, etc. Finding a therapist whose professional focus aligns with your specific issues improves the chances of effective therapy.

Further Resources for Women’s Issues

For women facing any of these or any other mental or emotional issues, it can be extremely beneficial to do further reading on their particular concerns or to seek the support of other women who have similar experiences.

If you are new to therapy, there are some things to know to help you get the most benefit from therapy sessions. This information can help you prepare for your first visit, answer questions about therapy, and potentially ease any anxieties you may have about beginning therapy.

Look for online resources, blogs, or-e-books that provide tools and strategies that are useful in helping women come to terms with their issues, learn about their treatment options, and begin to seek therapy.


  • Benetti-McQuid, J., & Bursik, K. (2005). Individual differences in experiences of and responses to guilt and shame: Examining the lenses of gender and gender role. Sex Roles. 53(½).
  • Jackson, P. (2011). Mental health symptoms of women in domestic violence relationships. Research Papers. Paper 77.
  • Major, B., Appelbaum, M., Beckman, L., et. al. (2009). Abortion and mental health: Evaluating the evidence. American Psychologist. 64(9), 863-890.
I'm a Korean that wears a Hijab [Hello Counselor #3 / 2016.12.05]

Women’s Preference of Therapist Based on Sex of Therapist and Presenting Problem: An Analogue Study

Couns Psychol Q. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2014 Sep 1.

Published in final edited form as:

PMCID: PMC3933186


PMID: 24578592

Sara J. Landes,a,bJessica R. Burton,aKevin M. King,c and Bryce F. Sullivand

Sara J. Landes

aNational Center for PTSD, VA Palo Alto Health Care System, Menlo Park, California, USA

bDepartment of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA

Find articles by Sara J. Landes

Jessica R. Burton

aNational Center for PTSD, VA Palo Alto Health Care System, Menlo Park, California, USA

Find articles by Jessica R. Burton

Kevin M. King

cDepartment of Psychology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA

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Bryce F. Sullivan

dDepartment of Psychological Sciences, Belmont University, Nashville, Tennessee, USA

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Author informationCopyright and License informationDisclaimer

aNational Center for PTSD, VA Palo Alto Health Care System, Menlo Park, California, USA

bDepartment of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA

cDepartment of Psychology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA

dDepartment of Psychological Sciences, Belmont University, Nashville, Tennessee, USA

Please address correspondence regarding this article and submission to: Sara J. Landes, Ph.D., National Center for PTSD, VA Palo Alto Health Care System, University of Washington, 795 Willow Road (MPD 334-PTSD), Menlo Park, CA, 94025, Phone: (650) 493-5000, 1-2-26957, Fax: (650) 617-2769, [email protected]

Contact information for remaining authors: Jessica R. Burton, M.P.H., Genentech, Inc., PRO Unlimited Contractor, 1 DNA Way, MS 88, South San Francisco, CA, 94080, Phone: (650) 225-3203, Fax: (650) 225-4093, [email protected]

Kevin King, Ph.D., University of Washington, Box 351525, Seattle, WA 98195, Phone: (206) 543-4781, Fax: (206) 685-3157, [email protected]

Bryce F. Sullivan, Ph.D., Belmont University, 1900 Belmont Boulevard, Nashville, TN 37212, Phone: (615) 460-6437, Fax: (615) 460-6466, [email protected]

Copyright notice

See other articles in PMC that cite the published article.


An analogue study was conducted to examine differences in women’s preference for and anticipated comfort self-disclosing to hypothetical therapists of different sexes based on the type of hypothetical presenting problem. The impact of general level of self-disclosure was also examined. Participants included female college students (n=187). Anticipated comfort self-disclosing to male or female therapist was rated by subjects when presented with therapists of each sex with the same qualifications. Women preferred and reported higher levels of anticipated comfort self-disclosing to a female therapist. Type of hypothetical presenting problem and general level of self-disclosure also impacted anticipated comfort self-disclosing. There was an interaction between general level self-disclosure and the sex of therapist on anticipated comfort self-disclosing. General level of self-disclosure only impacted anticipated comfort self-disclosing when the therapist was male. This information is relevant for therapists or organizations that provide psycho-social services to women. Organizations may want to inquire about a client’s preferences about sex of therapist beforehand and, if possible, cater to the client’s preference.

Keywords: client preference, sex of therapist, therapist characteristics

Much research has been done on the effects of both client and therapist characteristics on the outcome of therapy. However, less research has examined the factors that influence the initial selection of a therapist. Existing literature indicates that individuals consider a number of factors when choosing a mental health provider (Eells, Fuqua, & Boswell, 1999). Eells and colleagues (1999) found that people consider the following factors, ranked from most to least important: professional qualifications (e.g., education, degree), practical (e.g., office location, cost), social influence (e.g., reference by trusted friend), and personal characteristics (e.g., sex, age, ethnicity). Selection is often based on information about the therapist that is readily accessible or visible, characteristics such as race, sex1, attractiveness, and age. These characteristics and the meanings attached to them by the client contribute to the initial judgments a client makes about a therapist’s abilities and competency (Harris & Busby, 1998).

Research on client preferences indicates that, in general, the majority of clients does not have or does not state a preference regarding therapist characteristics (Blow, Timm, & Cox, 2008; Pikus & Heavey, 1996; Speight & Vera, 2005). Speight and Vera (2005) examined archival data from a college counseling center that included clients’ responses to an open-ended question regarding preference. They found that 61.1% did not state a preference.

When preferences were stated, the preferences related to the gender of the therapist were most common (Speight & Vera, 2005). Research has shown that clients differ by sex in their stated therapist preferences, especially when directly asked about preferences. Pikus and Heavey (1996) found that when directly asked, the majority of male clients (58%) stated no preference for therapist gender, while only 32% of female clients stated no preference. Women typically state preferences regarding therapist characteristics (Dancey, Dryden, & Cook, 1992; Speight & Vera, 2005; Wilch, 1999), and when reporting preferences regarding sex of therapist, women prefer a female therapist (Cooper, 2006; Dancey, et al., 1992; Highlen & Russell, 1980; Wilch, 1999). This has also been found in primary care clinics where women have stated preferences for having a female provider (Garcia, Paterniti, Romano, & Kravitz, 2003). Stamler and colleagues (1991) found that preferences may be impacted by the sex of the intake counselor. For women, the sex of the intake counselor had an impact on whether they reported a preference and on what their preference was. When meeting with a female intake counselor, women were approximately twice as likely to express having a preference about their therapist. When meeting with a male intake counselor, women requested a female therapist more often.

Pikus and Heavey (1996) examined the strength of client preferences and the reasons behind these preferences. Those clients who preferred a female therapist had significantly stronger preferences than those who preferred a male therapist. Reasons for preference of a female therapist included feeling more comfortable talking with a woman, wanting someone similar to themselves (in terms of gender) so the therapist would understand them better (e.g., ability to be more empathic), wanting a therapist with stereotypically female qualities (e.g., “warmer”), previous negative experiences with male therapists, and wanting to work on problems with women.

Preference for gender of therapist may also be affected by the nature of the client’s presenting problem (Bernstein, Hofmann, & Wade, 1987; Harris & Busby, 1998). Female clients preferred a female therapist when their presenting problem was of a “personal nature,” although no further description of personal nature was included in the research report (Boulware & Holmes, 1970; Fowler & Wagner, 1993; Fuller, 1964). This may be further compounded by a client’s history. Some research has shown, for example, that girls who have been sexually abused show an initial preference for female therapists (Fowler & Wagner, 1993; Fowler, Wagner, Iachini, & Johnson, 1992; Moon, Wagner, & Kazelskis, 2000; Wagner, Kilcrease-Fleming, Fowler, & Kazelskis, 1993). Interestingly, several studies have found that a male therapist was preferred when the problem was vocational (Blier, Atkinson, & Geer, 1987; Boulware & Holmes, 1970). This type of preference may be better explained by gender stereotypes (Blow, et al., 2008; Boulware & Holmes, 1970; Bowers & Bieschke, 2005). Students might have expected the woman to better understand personal problems and the man to better understand vocational problems. Gender and gender stereotypes likely impact preference for therapist, but these areas are beyond the scope of the current paper.

Sex of the therapist may also influence how comfortable a client feels disclosing information. Fuller (1963) found that, in general, female clients disclose more than male clients. Client/counselor dyads that included a female (whether client or counselor) produced more self-disclosure than all male pairs. Brooks (1974) supported the finding that dyads including a female produced more self-disclosure; however, she did not find that women disclosed more than men. In fact, Brooks (1974) found that female clients revealed more to male counselors than female counselors. Harris and Busby (1998) measured the effects of therapist attractiveness, nature of presenting problem, and gender of participant on the comfort of self-disclosing. The type of presenting problem had the greatest effect on comfort self-disclosing. The attractiveness of the therapist had a smaller, but significant, effect on comfort self-disclosing. In this study, participants’ gender did not significantly affect their predicted self-disclosure.

In sum, most clients do not state a preference regarding characteristics about a therapist. When clients do state a preference, most are related to the sex of the therapist. Women are more likely to state a preference regarding sex of therapist at all and tend to prefer a provider of the female sex in mental health and primary care health settings. The presence of an intake counselor impacts both whether one states a preference and the actual preference. The client’s presenting problem also impacts preference, although research in this area has not been very specific (e.g., using terms to describe a problem as “of a personal nature”). Finally, sex of the therapist may impact how comfortable a client feels self-disclosing, but the literature in this area has been mixed.

The current study examined differences in women’s anticipated comfort self-disclosing to therapists of different sexes and their preference for therapists of different sexes. Women were asked to hypothetically consider therapy for a problem related to or resulting from either a sex-neutral problem or a female sex-specific problem. General willingness to self-disclose was measured and each participant rated her anticipated comfort self-disclosing to either a male or female therapist and rated her preference between a male and female therapist.

The current study builds on existing literature on client preference for sex of therapist. Most previous studies categorized presenting problems in very general terms, such as “personal” or “vocational,” while the current study categorizes presenting problem more specifically (i.e., female sex-specific, sex-neutral). Additionally, the current study also adds to the literature by examining an additional variable that may impact preference for sex of therapist, general level of self-disclosure.

The hypotheses of the current study regarding preference are that A1) women will prefer the female therapist to the male therapist and that A2) the type of hypothetical presenting problem will impact preference (specifically that women will prefer the female therapist for female sex-specific problems). The hypotheses regarding anticipated comfort self-disclosing to the described therapist are that B1) the sex of the therapist will impact anticipated comfort self-disclosing (specifically, women will report higher comfort self-disclosing to a female therapist), B2) the type of hypothetical presenting problem will impact anticipated comfort self-disclosing (specifically that those with a female sex-specific hypothetical presenting problem will report lower comfort self-disclosing), and B3) there will be an interaction effect between sex of therapist and hypothetical presenting problem. Finally, B4) general level of self-disclosure will impact anticipated comfort self-disclosing (e.g., those with high levels of self-disclosure will report higher levels of anticipated comfort self-disclosing).



Participants were 187 female students from a medium-sized Midwestern university who participated in the study as partial fulfillment of their undergraduate psychology coursework. Student participants ranged in age from 17 to 46 years, although 90% of participants were 25 years old or younger (M = 21.73, SD = 4.50). The majority identified themselves as Caucasian (84%) and in their first year of college (27%). See Table 1 for full description of participant demographics.

Table 1

Participant Demographics

VariablenValid %
  African American2312.3
  Asian American31.6
  Native American00
  College Year 15027.0
  College Year 23116.8
  College Year 34524.3
  College Year 42815.1
  College Year 542.2

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Materials included in each packet are described here in the order they were presented.

Self-Disclosure Situations Survey

To examine a participant’s general level of self-disclosure, Chelune’s (1976) Self-Disclosure Situations Survey (SDSS) was administered. The SDSS provides a measure of one’s general willingness to disclose and consists of 20 items that describe different situations in which the respondent rates the degree to which she would be willing to self-disclose on a six-point Likert-type scale. Sample items describing situations include “You are having dinner at home with your family,” “You are being introduced to a group of strangers,” and “You are applying for a job as a public relations consultant.” A rating of 1 indicates the respondent would only discuss certain topics, if any, at a superficial level and reveal no personal information. A rating of 6 indicates the respondent would discuss a variety of topics in depth and reveal, in complete detail, personal information. Total scores range from 20 to 120, with higher scores indicating a greater willingness to self-disclose.

In a review of self-disclosure measures, Tardy (1988) indicates that the SDSS reflects an individual’s general willingness to disclose due to the fact that it includes a variety of situational factors. The items have good reliability; using three samples Chelune (1976) obtained reliability coefficients of .80 (n=56), .88 (n=79), and 0.89 (n=56). For the current study, the reliability alpha score was .89 (n = 187). When examining construct validity, he found a significant correlation of SDSS score and the Byrne Repression-Sensitization scale (r=.30, p<.005) and the Rotter Internal-External Locus of Control scale (r=.29, p<.01).

Changes were made to the SDSS for this study to make the wording more contemporary. Item number eight was changed from “You are a member of an encounter/sensitivity group.” to “You are a member of a sensitivity training or therapy group.” In its original form, descriptors were given only for each endpoint of the six-point Likert-type scale. For this study, descriptors were added for each number on the scale to ensure the participants understood the meaning of each number in the scale used to rate each situation.

Therapist description

Participants were presented with a description of either a male or female therapist. In each description, the name of the therapist, areas of specialty, theoretical orientation, experience, and education were provided. The descriptions were modeled from a descriptive directory of psychotherapists from a major metropolitan area. The only difference between each therapist was his or her first name; all other information remained identical to avoid confounding variables. There was a therapist with a stereotypically female name (Amanda) and one with a stereotypically male name (Michael). (See Appendix A for an example.)

Hypothetical presenting problem

Following the description, directions instructed participants to answer questions as if they were considering therapy for either a problem related to or resulting from either a female sex-specific problem or a sex-neutral problem. They were given more than one example for the type of problem in order to clarify the concept. For the female sex-specific problem, the examples were pregnancy issue, rape, or domestic violence. For the sex-neutral problem, the examples were depression or anxiety.

Sex-neutral problems were defined as problems that affect both men and women and are not dependent on the sex of the individual (e.g., depression, anxiety, phobias). Female sex-specific problems were defined as a problem suffered either mainly or exclusively by members of the female sex. Events like pregnancy, abortion, and stillbirth can only be directly experienced by women. Female sex-specific problems also included those that are not biologically determined but, likely due to social influence, are experienced predominantly by women (e.g., rape, intimate partner violence) (Catalano, 2012; Truman, 2010; U. S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1993, 1994, 1996)

Anticipated comfort self-disclosing to therapist

After reading the hypothetical presenting problem, participants were asked about their anticipated comfort self-disclosing information to the described therapist by asking them “how comfortable would you feel telling personal or private information to [name of therapist]?” Anticipated comfort self-disclosing was rated on a 7-point Likert-type scale ranging from negative three to positive three. Negative three represented “extremely uncomfortable” and positive three represented “extremely comfortable.”

Preference for male or female therapist

Participants then read that another therapist worked in the same office and had identical qualifications but was the opposite sex of the therapist in the previous description. Participants were asked, if given the option to choose, which therapist they would prefer to see for therapy. Participants then circled the name of the therapist they would prefer to see.


The final page of the packet consisted of demographic questions, including sex, age, ethnicity, and education level.


All procedures were approved by the local Institutional Review Board. A between-subjects design was used, and participants randomly received one of four packets. The packets differed based on whether the participant was reading about a male or female therapist and whether she was asked to consider therapy for a hypothetical problem related to or resulting from either a female sex-specific problem or a sex-neutral problem. Participants completed the questionnaires after reading and signing the informed consent document.


A correlation table of the examined variables is presented in Table 2.

Table 2

Correlations of Variables

1. Age1.00
2. Preference.0461.00
3. Comfort Level−.001−.0411.00
4. Sex of Therapist−.072−.187*.284**1.00
5. SDSS Score.040.003.208**.0241.00

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Women significantly preferred the female therapist, z = 9.99, p < .05. Of the 180 women who stated a preference, the majority (87.2%) preferred the female therapist and 12.8% preferred the male therapist.

Preference for therapist was significantly different based on type of hypothetical presenting problem (female sex-specific or sex-neutral), χ2(1, N = 180) = 8.097, p <.05. Ninety-four percent of the participants given a hypothetical female sex-specific problem preferred the female therapist, and 80.2% of participants given a hypothetical sex-neutral problem preferred the female therapist. Only 5.6% of participants given a hypothetical female sex-specific problem preferred the male therapist.

To examine the impact of sex of therapist and type of hypothetical presenting problem on anticipated comfort self-disclosing, we recoded anticipated comfort self-disclosing from −3 through +3 into 1 (“extremely uncomfortable”) through 7 (“extremely comfortable”). Sex of the therapist was dummy coded with 0 = female and 1 = male and the type of hypothetical presenting problem was dummy coded with 0 = sex-neutral and 1 = female sex-specific. Anticipated comfort self-disclosing was different based on the sex of therapist, (b = -.82, SE = .21, β = -.28, p < .001), as well as different based on type of hypothetical presenting problem, (b = -.51, SE = .21, β = -.17, p = .02). Specifically, considering a female sex-specific problem was associated with lower anticipated comfort self-disclosing, and a male therapist with lower anticipated comfort self-disclosing. Using OLS regression in SPSS 18.0, together these predictors explained 11% of the variability in anticipated comfort (R2 = .11). The interaction of the two was not significant, (b = .032, SE = .42, β = .01, p = .939), so we dropped it from the final model.

To examine whether general level of self-disclosure would impact anticipated comfort self-disclosing to the therapist described, we added SDSS score to the previous regression model. For this analysis we rescaled the SDSS scores (originally ranging from a minimum of 20 to a maximum of 120) to have a minimum of 0 and a maximum of 5, so that a 1-unit increase on the rescaled SDSS was equivalent to a 1-unit increase in the Likert scale assessing anticipated comfort self-disclosing. As would be anticipated, anticipated comfort self-disclosing to the therapist described was associated with the rescaled SDSS score over and above the impact of therapist sex and type of presenting problem, (b = .50, SE = .19, β = .19, p = .009), and this model explained 14% of the variance in the outcome.

To further investigate the relationship between general level of self-disclosure and anticipated comfort self-disclosing to the therapist described, we used linear regression to examine the impact of sex of therapist and general level of self-disclosure and the interaction of the two on anticipated comfort self-disclosing to the therapist described. This regression model accounted for 18% of the total variance in the outcome (i.e., R2 = .178). The main effect of sex of therapist was significant, such that participants reported feeling more anticipated comfort self-disclosing to a female therapist (b = -.807, SE = .20, β = -.28, p < .001), but this was qualified by an interaction with self-disclosure, meaning that this main effect must be interpreted in terms of the level of self-disclosure. This means that the effects of self-disclosure are only interpretable for therapist sex that is coded as zero (i.e., females) (Aiken & West, 1991). This interaction of sex of therapist and general level of self-disclosure was significant, (b = .977, SE = .38, β = .24, p = .01), suggesting that the impact of general level of self-disclosure on anticipated comfort self-disclosing to the therapist described depended on whether the therapist was male or female. We probed the interaction following the methods outlined by Aiken and West (1991). Specifically, the interaction indicated that when the therapist was female, there was no effect of general levels of self-disclosure on anticipated comfort self-disclosing to the therapist described (b = .099, SE = .24, β = .04, p = .685), but this effect was significant and positive when the therapist was male (b = (.099 + .977) = 1.076, SE = .29, β = .40, p < .001), meaning that general level of self-disclosure had an effect on anticipated comfort self-disclosing the therapist described only when the therapist was male.

Finally, we tested whether covarying age, ethnicity (dummy coded as Caucasian vs. ethnic minority status), and education level influenced these findings. The magnitude and significance of the main effects and interactions were not different when these covariates were entered into the model (and none of the covariates were associated with the outcome), suggesting that these effects were independent of age, ethnicity, and education level.


The current analogue study was designed to examine women’s preference for the sex of therapist, anticipated comfort self-disclosing, and the effect of the type of hypothetical presenting problem and general level of self-disclosure on these variables. It was predicted that women would prefer a female therapist to a male therapist, and this hypothesis was supported. Eighty-seven percent of the women surveyed preferred the female therapist, regardless of the presenting problem. This finding supports previous findings (Boulware & Holmes, 1970; Fuertes & Gelso, 1998; Fuller, 1964; Pikus & Heavey, 1996; Stamler, et al., 1991) that women prefer female therapists to male therapists.

It was also predicted that the type of hypothetical presenting problem participants were asked to consider would impact their preference for sex of therapist and, specifically, that women would prefer a female therapist for a female sex-specific problem. This hypothesis was supported, as the preference for therapist was significantly different based on the type hypothetical presenting problem. The majority of female participants preferred the female therapist for both the sex-neutral (80.2%) and the female sex-specific problem (94.4%). This supports previous literature by Harris and Busby (1998) who both found that preference for sex of therapist was affected by the client’s presenting problem.

The impact of sex of therapist and type of hypothetical presenting problem on participants’ anticipated comfort self-disclosing was also examined. It was predicted that sex of the therapist would impact anticipated comfort self-disclosing, specifically that women would have higher scores on anticipated comfort self-disclosing to the female therapist than the male therapist, and that presenting problem would impact anticipated comfort self-disclosing. The hypotheses were supported. Participants reported lower anticipated comfort self-disclosing to a male therapist and lower anticipated comfort self-disclosing when the hypothetical presenting problem they were considering for therapy was female sex-specific. These findings extend previous literature showing that women prefer a female therapist. For example, previous literature on reasons for preference for a female therapist include feeling more comfortable talking with a woman (Pikus & Heavey, 1996).

It was also predicted that there would be an interaction of these variables; specifically that sex of therapist would impact anticipated comfort self-disclosing more when participants were asked to consider a female sex-specific problem. This hypothesis was not supported. This finding was surprising in that sex of therapist was expected to be more salient when considering a sex-specific problem. One possible explanation for this lack of interaction is that while each participant was presented initially with either a male or female therapist, she was also told that a therapist of the opposite sex was available. Having information about another possible option may have lessened the impact on anticipated comfort self-disclosing. Another variable that may have lessened the impact on anticipated comfort self-disclosing is that this was an analogue study and participants would not be self-disclosing to the therapists in question. Further research into these variables and their interaction in a clinical population may prove interesting.

Finally, the relationship between general level of self-disclosure and anticipated comfort self-disclosing was examined. There was an interaction between sex of therapist and general level of self-disclosure on anticipated comfort self-disclosing. The impact of general level of self-disclosure depended on the sex of the therapist. When considering a female therapist and rating anticipated comfort self-disclosing, general level of self-disclosure had no effect. However, general level of self-disclosure did have an effect when considering a male therapist. Participants with a higher level of general self-disclosure reported higher levels of anticipated comfort self-disclosing to a male therapist. In short, participants reported feeling comfortable disclosing to female therapists regardless of their general level of self-disclosure, but only those who had higher levels of general self-disclosure felt more comfortable disclosing to male therapists.

In summary, the current study both supported previous findings in the literature and extended what is known about preference for sex of therapist, as well as impact of presenting problem and an individual’s general level of self-disclosure. Findings supported previous literature indicating that women prefer a female therapist and that type of presenting problem may impact preference for sex of therapist. This study extended previous literature on the impact of presenting problem by defining it more specifically (i.e., as opposed to describing the problem as one of a “personal nature”). It also extended the literature by examining anticipated comfort self-disclosing to the therapist. Findings indicated that both sex of therapist and type of presenting problem impact anticipated comfort self-disclosing. Finally, this study added to the literature by also examining the impact of an individual’s general level of self-disclosure (not specific to therapy). An interaction was found between general level of self-disclosure and sex of therapist (described in the paragraph above).


The current study suggests that women may have a preference in the sex of their therapist. This preference was influenced by the hypothetical presenting problem they were asked to consider. This information is relevant for therapists or organizations that provide services to women. It is especially relevant when the clients are women experiencing female sex-specific problems. With this knowledge, organizations offering services may want to inquire about a client’s preferences about sex of therapist beforehand and, if possible, cater to the client’s preference. We acknowledge that in many settings, this may not be possible given restraints on time, resources, and therapists available. These results are consistent with other literature that suggest that catering to clients’ preferences for therapy can lead to better engagement and outcomes (Arnkoff, Glass, & Shapiro, 2002; Swift & Callahan, 2009).

In terms of level of self-disclosure, an individual’s general level of self-disclosure affected her level of anticipated comfort self-disclosing to a therapist when the therapist was male. Using a measure like the Self-Disclosure Situations Scale may be beneficial for therapists to know what to expect from a client, as it may influence the rate of disclosure or progress of therapy. This measure may also be helpful in determining whether to assign the client either a male or female therapist, as women in this study with a low level of general self-disclosure seem to have greater differences in anticipated comfort self-disclosing to a male therapist, but not to a female therapist.

These findings may be relevant in cases where time is limited, either in short-term therapy or crisis services. When receiving crisis services, a client may not have the time to become acclimated to a male therapist when she prefers a female therapist. In less critical situations, clients may choose short-term therapy for a variety of problems. Their choice of short-term therapy may be influenced by factors such as managed care, availability of money, or personal preference for therapy style (Eells, et al., 1999). For these clients, initial preferences and anticipated comfort self-disclosing are also important. In short-term therapy situations, the therapist and client have a shorter time to work on the problem at hand and therefore even less time to work on possible issues the client may have with the therapist. In these situations, therapist characteristics which will help to facilitate a therapeutic relationship quickly are even more important.


One limitation of this study is that it was an analogue study; the participants were not clients seeking therapy. It would have been preferable to survey actual clients experiencing a variety of problems, both female sex-specific and sex-neutral. The characteristics of the participants also limit the generalizability of the findings. The majority of the participants were Caucasian college students in their twenties. This limits the ability to suggest that these findings would apply to all women seeking therapy, as there was a limited range of racial backgrounds, ages, and education levels.

Another limitation is that participants were not asked if they were currently experiencing problems such as the hypothetical problems they were asked to consider. Study results may have been more valid had participants been currently experiencing the problem they were asked to consider. Also, participants were not asked if they were currently in therapy or if they had received therapy in the past. Participants’ therapy histories and experiences with male or female therapists may have impacted their preference for therapists in this study.

Finally, the current study did not assess participants’ view about gender or the presence of gender stereotypes, which may have impacted their preference of therapist.

Future Research

Based on the results of the present study, it appears that women generally prefer a female therapist to a male therapist. The current study is an analogue study and future research should include a replication with a clinical sample. Also, similar research could be conducted with male participants. Male therapy clients can also experience male sex-specific problems (e.g., impotence) and sex-neutral problems.

If we want to understand why these preferences exist, additional research is needed that includes both sex and gender. The current study design did not allow us to examine whether the participants are reporting preferences based on assumptions regarding (a) gender, (b) sex, or (c) some combination of both.


This research is based on results from the master’s thesis of Sara J. Landes and was conducted at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. This research was funded by a Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville Research Grant for Graduate Students. Preparation of this paper was supported in part by NIMH Grant No. 1F32MH084788-01A1 awarded to the first author. We would like to thank Krista Miller for her help in data collection for this project.



Sara J. Landes, Ph.D., is a Research Health Science Specialist at the Dissemination and Training Division of the National Center for PTSD, at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System. Her research interests include psychotherapy process and outcome, behavioral treatments for personality disorders, and implementation of evidence based treaments in healthcare systems.


Jessica R. Burton, M.P.H., is a Scientist in Patient Reported Outcomes- Oncology at Genentech, Inc. through PRO Unlimited. She has a background in epidemiology focused on aggregate and population-based health intervention outcomes, identification of health determinants, as well as infectious disease surveillance. She currently designs and implements strategy assessing patient health-related quality of life, functioning, and health status in clinical oncology trials.


Kevin M. King, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Washington. His research interests focus on how context shapes the development of self regulation during adolescence and how their interaction influences the emergence of risky behaviors. He alsostudies the application of quantitative methods such as multilevel models and latent variable models to these questions.


Bryce F. Sullivan, Ph.D., is the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and a Professor of Psychology at Belmont University. His scholarly interests include higher education and clinical psychology. He is a licensed clinical psychologist.

Appendix A

Female Therapist Description

Amanda L. Jones, Ph.D.

Graduated from University of Illinois in 1982. In private practice 20 years.

Specializations: Mood disorders, anxiety disorders, women’s issues, personality disorders

Patients served: Adults, adolescents

Licensed by the State of Illinois

Amanda L. Jones, Ph.D., specializes in therapy for mood disorders, anxiety disorders, women’s issues, and personality disorders. She has an extensive background working with both adults and adolescents. In addition to providing therapy, she also performs complete psychological assessments and evaluations. She has been in private practice for the last 20 years. Each year, she attends workshops and conferences in order to stay current with the latest research in her field.


1The term “sex” refers to the physiological or physical aspects of being either male or female. The term “gender” is defined as “the non-physiological aspects of being female or male-the cultural expectations for masculinity and femininity”(Lips, 2003, p. G-3). While it is noted that there is a difference between these terms, in a majority of the literature, the terms are used incorrectly, interchangeably, or without being defined. In reviewing the existing literature, we use terms as used by the authors of each article. For the purposes of this study, we use the term sex to describe the physical sex of therapists and to define types of presenting problems. Limitations of this choice are discussed in the Discussion.


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Whether you are facing depression, anxiety, relationship concerns, work stress, parenthood stress, or any other stressful situation, we can help you. We’ve been there and we understand how to help you find solutions to handle stressful life experiences with courage and competence. We understand that women have different sets of needs and desires, and we are focused on helping them find the tools and inner resources to overcome even the most seemingly insurmountable challenges.

We offer a complete range of different counseling services including teenage depression counseling, anxiety treatment, anger management, resiliency training, and many other mental health service solutions. We also offer group therapy, women’s leadership coaching, women’s career counseling, women’s relationship counseling, grief counseling, and self-identity development for women. Whether you need the services of a adult therapist, teen therapist, trauma-focused therapist, gender identity therapist, stress relief therapist, or general well-being therapist, we offer trusted services that can help you live a balanced and peaceful life.

You can schedule a free 20-Min consultation using our online scheduler:

Click Here to Schedule a Free Consultation

Common Issues for Women, Girls, and People of All Gender Identities

Whatever is gnawing at you,
we want to help you through it!

  • Anxiety/Stress
  • Depression/Sadness
  • Maternal Depression/Anxiety
  • Loss and Grief
  • Parenting Stress
  • Relationships or Family stress
  • Intimacy and Sex
  • Social Anxiety
  • Self-Image
  • Gender Identity and Exploration
  • Bullying
  • Procrastination
  • Perfectionism
  • School/Work-Life Balance

Hi, I am Mabel and I am the founder of WTI.


I started this practice with the goal of helping people who are experiencing anxiety and depression, relationship issues, and school and career concerns. Over time, I have recruited clinicians who are also very passionate about this cause and can understand what our clients are going through. We have personally experienced the impact of depression, anxiety, work stress, motherhood stress, and more. We have faced our fair share of up-and-downs, and have triumphed over many challenges. Our experiences propel us to find solutions for ourselves and for other individuals on similar journeys. At Women’s Therapy Institute, we understand that our society creates different expectations for women, girls, and people of all gender identities, and therefore we all handle anxiety, depression, relationships, and career stress a little differently.

We want to help you feel better so you can have the relationships, career, and the life you deserve.

Jenna DeCou - LMFT | Therapist Palo Alto, CA | Women's Therapy Institute

Jenna DeCou

Manager of Operations & LMFT

[Online Due to COVID]

Anxiety, depression, disordered eating, LGBTQ, sexual and gender identity/inclusitivity, relationships, self-harm, family therapy, identity formation, stress faced by teens in a world of social media.

Learn More

Maura A. Young - LCSW | Women’s Therapy Institute

Maura A. Young


[Online Due to COVID]

Couples, depression, anxiety, PTSD, perinatal mood, life transitions, menopause, grief/loss, relationships, work-life balance, parenting, divorce/blended families, addiction, codependency, family dynamics, life satisfaction, and mindfulness.

Learn More

Diana Trinh - ASW | Women's Health Counselor/Therapist Palo Alto, CA

Diana Trinh

ASW (Intern)

[Online Due to COVID]

Anxiety/Depression, Behavioral Therapy, Bi-cultural Issues, College Adjustment, Grief Counseling, Mindfulness-Psychotherapy, Mood Disorders, School Bullying/Peer-Conflict, Self-Identity Development

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Dalia Bashar


[Not Available for Therapy]

Promote health and wellness through education and advocacy, and facilitate group support for adults and teens. Specializes in parenting, emotional well-being, sexuality, interpersonal skills, and mindfulness.

Bio Coming Soon

Mabel Yiu - MFT & CEO | Women’s Therapy Institute

Mabel Yiu


[Not Available for Therapy]

Depression, anxiety, PTSD, trauma, perfectionism, school performance pressure, life transitions, self-harming behaviors, self-compassion, parental or romantic relationship issues, work/life/home balance, grief/loss, work-life balance, and leadership coaching.

Learn More

Ethel Mostrel - LMFT | Women’s Therapy Institute

Ethel Mostrel


[Online Due to COVID]

Anxiety, depression, relationships, multicultural issues, family dynamics, divorce, grief/loss, mid-life identity development, parenting, contemplating parenthood, perinatal mood, women and aging, work-life balance.

Learn More

Christine Shea

Registered Art Therapist & LMFT

[Online Due to COVID]

Anxiety, depression, trauma, PTSD, at risk youth, transitional ages, low self-esteem, self-harm, gender and sexuality concerns, dual diagnosis, life transitions, grief/loss, relationship issues, school/work-life balance, family dynamics, and parenting.

Learn More

My mommy is less stressed and happy now.

“My mommy is loving woman. She is more active and improved now. She used to yell and never laugh, now she makes projects and watches movies with me now. She is less stressed and happy.”

—M.M. (9yo daughter of a 38yo client)

You make me feel really comfortable.

“My father died 19 years and I did not want to talk about this with anyone. You make me feel really comfortable and thank you for helping me process his passing. I am now able to put his pictures up on my wall and watch some of the old videos of him. Our family can finally celebrate holidays again with new tradition, and this after 19 years of not celebrating!”


Mabel is warm, caring and very professional.

“I came in because I had some in-law issues to deal with. My in-laws are very difficult people and Mabel helped me cope with the stress and find ways to deal with their antics. Mabel is warm, caring and very professional. I highly recommend counseling with Mabel.”


I’m now able to be the parent I want to be.

“Thank you for working with me when I was having issues with my ex (husband) in co-parenting issues. I have learn a lot of in how to set healthy boundaries, maintain a parental relationship with him where my kids can benefit. I feel that I am now able to be the parent I want to be without being affect by him. I am happier and my kids are happier because of this.”


I never failed to leave with a new tool for coping...

“…After 7 months of regular sessions, I can say with certainty that my sessions were exactly what I needed in order to tackle my life long internal struggles with anxiety, depression, guilt, and lack of self care…I never failed to leave with a new tool for coping, as well as a new outlook on whatever issue I had entered the session with…”

My happy and caring daughter is finally back and for that I thank you.

“Before she visits with you, D was always moody and angry, doesn’t sleep very much and very stressed. There has been such a great change after D started seeing you. D is much happier and going out more. She is having a much better relationship with her own daughter. My happy and caring daughter is finally back and for that I thank you.”

We Can Help You, Too…

Here are some of the things we can help you with.

  • Feel at ease, relaxed, and able to sleep better.
  • Have increased concentration for school or work.
  • Have increased confidence and optimism.
  • Connect more fully with your children and/or parents.
  • Have more meaningful and deeper relationships.
  • Experience an increase in joy and laughter.
  • Develop more effective coping skills.
  • Know yourself on a deeper level.

You are not alone. This struggle is not your fault, and there’s something you can do about it. We can work together to help you feel better and enjoy life more fully.

More about me and The Women’s Therapy Institute ›

Click Here to Schedule a Free Consultation


761 762 763 764 765