The Most Common Issues Women Bring Up in Therapy

Women face many societal pressures and expectations. On one hand, women receive the message that they must enter the workforce and thrive within it. On the other, they must also be a good mother who’s available to her children and a good wife. When it feels like society expects perfection, but perfection feels unattainable, that is a lot to grapple with.

Therapy offers a valuable venue where women can discuss what weighs on them and holds them back. Help from a therapist with those issues that disproportionately affect women can be a source of greater peace and self-acceptance, as you develop coping tools for addressing these challenges.

Unfortunately, therapy can come with a stigma. It’s not weak to ask for help—in fact, it’s one of the strongest things you can do. When you ask for help, you admit that you don’t know how to fix the problem you’re facing. At the same time, you also show that you’re willing to be accountable for yourself by seeking out alternate solutions.

Read on to discover some of the most common issues that women bring up in therapy—and, how a counselor can help with them.

Relationship Issues

Relationships are hard work. In a perfectly ideal situation, both parties in a relationship have grown up learning to communicate and collaborate healthily and effectively. In reality, this isn’t the case. It’s not uncommon for women (and men) to struggle with their relationships, what their role is, or how to communicate effectively.

A lack of healthy communication, boundaries, and cooperation can lead to issues within the relationship. Resentment can build or the relationship can end because one or both parties don’t feel like their needs are being met. Some women seek out therapy to help them process past traumas that hinder their ability to have a good relationship. Others may look to therapy to develop effective skills that assist with creating a healthy, long-lasting relationship.

Body Image

There’s no denying that technology has skewed perceptions of a healthy, attractive body. It’s hard not to compare yourself to the heavily edited images of models and actresses who spend hours getting their hair and makeup done before appearing on screen. Even just scrolling through social media can give unrealistic expectations of beauty when nearly everyone has a cell phone brimming with automatic filters to alter their appearance.

The physical standards of conventional beauty are dangerous. Women who don’t meet them may suffer from low self-esteem or see themselves as less valuable. Some may dive into unhealthy habits to try to compete with these standards, such as restricting eating or over-exercising. Others can develop social anxiety that holds them back from spending time with their friends.

In therapy, women can talk to their counselor about how they feel. They can discuss coping mechanisms and skills that can be beneficial and help boost self-confidence.

Low Self-Esteem

Low self-esteem can affect anyone. However, around the world, women consistently report lower self-esteem than men.

Your self-esteem refers to how you see yourself. People with healthy self-esteem often think positively about themselves and optimistically in general. With low self-esteem, you may feel like you’re not good enough. You may have symptoms such as:

  • Being overly critical of yourself
  • Focusing on your weaknesses
  • Apologizing constantly to others
  • Being eager to please others
  • Feeling like you don’t deserve to be treated or to treat yourself

Fixing low self-esteem involves reworking how you think about yourself. Cognitive behavioral therapy, in particular, targets negative thoughts, helping you change them into more positive or realistic assessments. CBT also develops coping skills that help you replace self-criticism with self-compassion.

Work-Life Balance

Women’s presence in the workforce has grown dramatically in recent decades. In 2022, women accounted for 46.8 percent of the labor force, and 40.5 percent of women were the primary breadwinners or co-breadwinners. While in the past women traditionally stayed home to care for the family, this is no longer the norm.

However, with the increased demand to work, women’s expected roles have not fully adjusted. Mothers, on average, still bear a disproportionate amount of the work at home, whether that looks like doing the majority of the chores and childcare or even bearing the invisible burden of managing and delegating the work to a partner. Also in conflict with their careers, women are more likely to stay home from work with a sick child, even when both the mother and father have access to similar leave policies.

The stressors that women face balancing their careers and home life can feel overwhelming. It’s the perfect recipe for burnout.

With therapy, women can learn to manage their work-life balance better. They can learn to set boundaries, communicate effectively, and build the assertiveness necessary to help protect their time.

Parental Expectations

There’s no denying that parents face a lot of stress. Raising a whole new person to adulthood is a lot of work, both physically and emotionally. Mothers in particular carry much of the burden on their own, especially as society has its own ideas of what to expect from them.

Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom, working mom, single mom, or married mom, you’ve got a lot riding on your shoulders. Especially in the earliest days, mothers often feel invisible, overwhelmed, and disconnected from their inner self. For some, it can be the aftereffects of having a child and facing postpartum depression. For others, burnout can leave them feeling stretched too thin. Often, part of the stress is a loss of personal identity when a woman spends all of her time pouring into her child.

Other women may face pressure to become mothers when they don’t want to. Still others may face infertility or other roadblocks to having a child when they desperately want one and feel ashamed of their inability to bring one into the world. When so much of the identity of being a woman is tied up in bringing children into the world, choosing not to or being unable to have children can bring a lot of stress.

In therapy, women can explore these topics deeper, discussing what the root of their stress is and how to cope with it.

Coping With Stress

Stress can come from just about anywhere and for any reason. Work, family life, friends, finances, and other external factors can create a lot of pressure. Likewise, internal factors, like women’s natural hormonal cycle or menopause may also contribute.

Sometimes, coping with stress is less about immediately removing the stressful factor and more about learning how to manage the feelings of stress to manage the situation. Stress is a part of life, after all. At other times, the source of stress falls within your realm of control, like feeling that you don’t have enough time to get to your tasks, but saying “yes” whenever someone requests a favor.

In therapy, women can focus on effective stress management, which combines working out effective coping strategies with minimizing stress where possible. For example, if your primary source of stress is that you feel like you’re stretched too thin to do anything as well as you’d like to, you may focus on time management skills that will help you prioritize tasks and set realistic goals for what you can handle.

Therapy Can Change Women’s Lives

Any woman can benefit from therapy. Whatever you may be facing, our compassionate counselors at Restore Mental Health have the knowledge and expertise to support your journey to wellness. For more support, and to start feeling better, contact us today at (866) 653-6220.