Madwoman Out of the Attic

a feminist trudging forward in a patriarchal world

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Is Therapy the Answer? Reconciling Faith and Feminism

(This is cross posted at Exponent Blog)

A few days ago I was talking to an LDS friend, Sarah, for the first time in a couple of years. She’s currently getting her doctorate in religion, and we were discussing the ways we (attempt to) reconcile our faith with our feminism.

When I asked her for advice on dealing with the women’s issues that we both struggle with, she immediately answered “Therapy.”

Sarah first went to LDS family services – not a good experience. Then she found a non-LDS therapist who herself was a person of faith. After years of expressing her frustrations and anger about the Church to her more orthodox LDS husband, and often hurting his feelings in the process, Sarah has found it so liberating and helpful to have a third party to act as a sounding board. The husband, who at first was not very supportive of her going to a therapist, now goes with her and loves it.

Sarah mentioned other things that have helped her cope with her issues, but the advice about therapy really stuck with me. I myself have toyed with the idea of seeking out a therapist before, but like Sarah’s, my husband isn’t too hot on the idea and thinks that I can probably just work through things myself.

But the idea still intrigues me… I know I often don’t handle my pain in the healthiest of ways. I sometimes unfairly get angry with my husband, since he represents the Church to me, and often defends it. And I sometimes am so frustrated after church that I find myself criticizing speakers, teachers, or leaders in ways that are not very kind.

I don’t want to be that person. Ultimately, I want to learn to be more generous and less angry towards institutions and people who I think are treating women unfairly, while at the same time working proactively towards change.

Perhaps therapy could help me with these goals. Have any of you had any experiences with therapy? Were they positive or negative? Did you experience feelings of self-consciousness or shame as you contemplated seeking third party help?


Blogger Lianne said...

I have been in therapy and have taken lots of classes.

I have found, sadly, that most of the more "enlightened" and "spiritual" professionals have left the church. WHich leaves me in an interesting dilemma. Those who walk with me in the Church are as confused as I am. Those who understand my spirituality have left the church.

Frankly, I don't know where to turn.

10/27/2006 11:35 AM  
Blogger Caroline said...

I'm sorry to hear that you're in a tough spot. I'm thinking that I might have the best luck with a therapist who is not LDS but is religious to some extent. A person like that would hopefully understand the desire to stick with a faith tradition.

10/29/2006 4:06 PM  

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