Psychotherapy with Women

Exploring Diverse Contexts and Identities

Edited by Marsha Pravder Mirkin, Karen L. Suyemoto, and Barbara F. Okun

August 12, 2005
ISBN 9781593851897
Price: $49.00 $41.65
357 Pages
Size: 6" x 9"

The contemporary successor to Marsha Pravder Mirkin's acclaimed Women in Context, this eminently practical clinical resource and text provides insights and interventions that have emerged out of decades of work on the psychology of women. All-new chapters from leading practitioners guide therapists to understand how gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, class, immigration status, religion, and other factors shape the experiences and identities of diverse women, and how to intervene effectively in the multiple contexts of clients' lives. Filled with vivid case material, the volume is uniquely structured to address family and relationship issues; work issues and career development; and health, spirituality, and self-care.

“The authors discuss different cultural realities transparently, sensitively, and with great clarity. They are able to move the therapist from the simplistic and rather stereotypical sociocultural formulations of women's clinical presentations....The distinctions among different areas that matter to women (work, interpersonal relationships, health, and self-care) are preserved well in the book, and these distinctions need to be echoed in all therapies with women....The authors leave the reader with a sense of hope that we can overcome the impact of harmful sociopolitical and cultural processes and walk the tightrope of challenging oppression and respecting diversity.”


“This book is a 'must read' for therapists, other service providers, and anyone interested in women’s issues. This gem provides a contemporary analysis of women's diversity and takes it to the next level. The book's fresh emphasis on work and self-care will resonate with today's readers. Both erudite and practical, this is a suitable text for courses on gender, diversity, multiculturalism, and health.”

—Lillian Comas-Diaz, PhD, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, George Washington University

“The richness and intellectual depth of this volume enhance its value as an intriguing, enlightening 'must read' for practitioners, scholars, and students in diverse disciplines. The editors' and contributors' distinctive, caring take on women and the contexts in which they live, coupled with the quality of the writing, make this remarkable book a benchmark in the literature on women, family, work, relationships, and personal health.”

—Thomas J. Cottle, PhD, School of Education, Boston University

“An important contribution, this book demonstrates how to connect clinical and social justice goals in work with diverse women. Attending to such crucial concerns as privilege, marginalization, and dilemmas around meaning and values, chapters model the process of reflexive and critically conscious practice. Unique strengths of the book include major sections on the promotion of health and well-being. A valuable resource for clinicians and educators.”

—Beth G. Reed, PhD, School of Social Work, University of Michigan

“This compelling book explores the intersections of race, class, sexual orientation, immigration, and other contexts of women's lives today, drawing on a vast body of knowledge and animating it with absorbing case examples. Focusing on women’s predicaments, resources, and constraints in the areas of work, relationships, and self-care, this is a valuable text for social service and mental health professionals in training and for women's studies courses. Readers will appreciate the editors' and contributors' strong commitment to understanding and addressing the inequities in women’s lives.”

—Celia Jaes Falicov, PhD, Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego

Table of Contents

Introduction, Marsha Pravder Mirkin, Karen L. Suyemoto, and Barbara F. Okun

I. Foundational Contexts

1. Journeys through Diverse Terrains: Multiple Identities and Social Contexts in Individual Therapy, Karen L. Suyemoto and Grace S. Kim

2. Many Differences, Many Voices: Toward Social Justice in Family Therapy, Jodie Kliman

3. Building Relationships across Privilege: Becoming an Ally in the Therapeutic Relationship, Hugh Vasquez and Sukie Magraw

II. Women in Interpersonal Relationships

4. Immigrant Mothers: Mothering in the Borderlands, Roxana Llerena-Quinn and Marsha Pravder Mirkin

5. Race, Gender, Class, and Culture through the Looking Glass of Interracial and Intercultural Intimate Relationships, Maria P. P. Root and Karen L. Suyemoto

6. Love in (at Least) Two Cultures: Dilemmas of Intimacy, Gender, and Generation in Practice with Immigrant Families, Ester R. Shapiro and Eileen Santa

7. Class Tensions within Families: Maintaining Relationships across Differences, Sandra J. Jones

III. Women and Paid Work

8. The Impact of Culture on Women's Meanings and Experiences of Work: Asian American and Asian Immigrant Women, Mizuho Arai

9. Women in the Workplace: An Application of Relational-Cultural Theory, Judith V. Jordan and Patricia Romney

10. Redefining the Career Ladder: New Visions of Women at Work, Barbara F. Okun and Lauren Gallo Ziady

11. Robbing Peter to Pay Paul: Reflections on Feminist Therapy with Low-Wage-Earning Women, Vanessa Jackson

IV. Women, Self-Care, and Healthy Living

12. Women, Psychotherapy, and the Experience of Play, Gretchen Schmelzer and Lise Motherwell

13. Spirit Matters: Women, Spirituality, and Clinical Contexts, Tracy L. Robinson-Wood and Marilyn Braithwaite-Hall

14. Native American Women: Fostering Resiliency through Community, Nadine Tafoya

15. Healthy Living, Healthy Women, Barbara A. Stewart and Barbara F. Okun

V. Conclusions

16. Connections and Future Directions, Barbara F. Okun, Karen L. Suyemoto, and Marsha Pravder Mirkin

About the Editors

Marsha Pravder Mirkin, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and resident scholar at the Brandeis University Women's Studies Research Center. She is on the faculty at Lasell College. Dr. Mirkin's interest in unheard voices and alternatives to the dominant discourse led her to edit Women in Context: Toward a Feminist Reconstruction of Psychotherapy and write The Women Who Danced by the Sea: Finding Ourselves in the Stories of Our Biblical Foremothers. She has served on the faculties of the Cambridge Hospital Couples and Family Training Program, Harvard Medical School, and the Jean Baker Miller Institute of the Stone Center at Wellesley College.

Karen L. Suyemoto, PhD, is Assistant Professor in Psychology and Asian American Studies at the University of Massachusetts-Boston, where she teaches classes related to race, culture, and gender. She has published and presented primarily on topics related to racial and cultural identity, particularly in multiracial and Asian American people. Dr. Suyemoto's current research projects explore how interventions of education and community programs may affect racial and ethnic identities and empowerment in Asian American youth and college students.

Barbara F. Okun, PhD, is Professor and Training Director of the combined school and counseling psychology doctoral program at Northeastern University. She served for 10 years on the faculty of the Cambridge Hospital Couples and Family Training Program, Harvard Medical School. Dr. Okun maintains a diverse clinical practice in individual, couple, and family therapy. Her books include Effective Helping: Interviewing and Counseling Techniques, Understanding Diversity: A Learning-as-Practice Primer, and Understanding Diverse Families: What Practitioners Need to Know.


Mizuoho Arai, PhD, Department of Sociology, University of Massachusetts, Boston, MA

Marilyn Braithwaite-Hall, EdM, Department of Counseling Psychology, Northeastern University, Boston, MA

Vanessa Jackson, LCSW, private practice, Atlanta, GA

Sandra J. Jones, PhD, Women’s Studies Research Center, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA

Judith V. Jordan, PhD, Jean Baker Miller Institute, Stone Center, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA

Grace S. Kim, MA, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Boston, MA

Jodie Kliman, PhD, Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology, Boston, MA

Roxana Llerena-Quinn, PhD, Children’s Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA

Sukie Magraw, PhD, Graduate School of Psychology, John F. Kennedy University, Pleasant Hill, CA

Marsha Pravder Mirkin, PhD, Women’s Studies Research Center, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA, and Lasell College, Newton, MA

Lise Motherwell, PhD, PsyD, Department of Psychology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, and private practice, Brookline, MA

Barbara F. Okun, PhD, Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology, Northeastern University, Boston, MA

Tracy L. Robinson-Wood, EdD, Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology, Northeastern University, Boston, MA

Patricia Romney, PhD, private practice, Amherst, MA

Maria P. P. Root, PhD, private practice, Seattle, WA

Eileen Santa, MA, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Boston, MA

Gretchen Schmelzer, PhD, Department of Counseling and Applied Educational Psychology, Northeastern University, and Teleos Leadership Institute, Boston, MA

Ester R. Shapiro, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Boston, MA

Barbara A. Stewart, MD, Harvard Medical School, Beth Israel Hospital, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA

Karen L. Suyemoto, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Boston, MA

Nadine Tafoya, MSW, private practice, Espagnola, NM

Hugh Vasquez, MSW, private practice, San Francisco, CA

Lauren Gallo Ziady, MA, Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology, Northeastern University, Boston, MA


Psychotherapists from a range of backgrounds, including clinical and counseling psychologists, social workers, family therapists, and psychiatrists; students in these areas. Also of interest to women's studies scholars and students.

Course Use

Serves as a text in graduate-level courses in family therapy, social work practice with families, psychotherapy with women, feminist psychotherapy, and psychology of women.