During the school year we are open Mon-Fri, 9:00-5:00. June-Aug we close at noon on Fridays for in-service training. Therapists also may offer counseling sessions and groups in the evenings and on weekends.
In order to make the best use of limited resources, we aim to provide unique services that cannot be found elsewhere in the community. In the process of reassessing our mission, we determined that other organizations are better equipped to manage food and clothing than we are.
Clothing: If you have clothing to donate, we recommend the Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor Thrift Shops. These two organizations give back to our clients through grants and financial aid. Dress for Success Michigan expanded their program when we closed ours.
Food: A number of agencies have the storage and refrigeration capacity to provide healthy meals, including kosher and halal, for qualified participants.
Men and boys are welcome in most of our programs, with the exception of Divorce-Break-up Education and our Going Solo Support Group (for safety reasons). Men also contribute to The Center as volunteers, therapists, and financial supporters. Men are our fathers, brothers, sons, partners, and friends. Many are our allies in creating a better world. See, for example, the Mentors in Violence Prevention Program.
Of course, men and boys benefit indirectly from the services we provide to women and girls. As Barbara Dobkin, founder of the Jewish Women’s Project, has said, “Anything we do that improves the lives of women and girls will improve the lives of men and boys.”
The Women’s Center offers a kind of therapy that acknowledges that clients are experts in their own lives. In addition, we believe that many of the problems women choose to work on in therapy have to do with our society’s imbalance of power and the inaccessibility of adequate resources. With these general beliefs, our counselors use many different styles of therapy, selecting those best suited to you. You and your counselor will work together to establish your goals, and to figure out which approach is best for you.
I don’t want anybody to know that I am seeing a therapist. Is it possible to keep my appointments confidential?
Yes. Your confidentiality is very important to us. We do not give out client names to anyone without signed permission from the client. We can arrange to use only cell phones, your private email, see you at an optimal time of day, set up an unobtrusive payment method, etc. If you are concerned about personal safety (are being stalked or are in a one-down relationship), we will work with you on a safety plan and advise you about a personal protection order. Please be aware that email is not secure, and may be monitored by anyone with access to the computer you use.
I have never been to counseling before. I am afraid that a therapist will try to change me in ways that I don’t want to change.
Good therapy or counseling (different words for the same process) respects each individual’s values. A qualified therapist does not impose her standards or priorities on her clients: your beliefs remain your own and you remain you.
Therapy is NOT for changing your basic self, but for sorting out the things that could work and feel better. In the best-case scenario, you begin to find the answers inside yourself, with the help of a guide — your counselor or therapist. We hope to provide a safe and accepting atmosphere in which you can identify what’s important to you, and we will then help you work toward that goal.
It’s as simple as making a phone call and asking for an initial interview. We have regular “intake” hours every week; ask the receptionist what time a counselor will be there to take your call. You’ve just made a very empowered step for yourself: making that first phone call is often one of the hardest parts of the process. The usual intake lasts about 15-20 minutes, as the counselor asks questions about how to contact you in the future, some basic questions about your age and background, and what you would like to work on.
Our personal and financial counseling programs sometimes have a waiting list. Due to the high demand for these one-on-one services, we may not have immediate openings. You might have to wait a few weeks for the next available counselor; sometimes you will get a counselor right away. The counselor should be able to give you an estimate of how long the waiting period might be. If you or someone you know is experiencing a crisis, we will do our best to put you in touch with the services you need.
In the case of personal counseling, our intake worker will suggest an hourly fee consistent with your income and talk to you about health insurance options. Our goal is to offer the best services, with dignity and respect, regardless of ability to pay.
Costs for our workshops vary. Some groups — our art and writing workshops, for example — are deliberately priced higher so that we can afford to offer other services at much lower fees. We strive to keep costs low for job coaching, financial counseling, and divorce/break-up education and support.
If, for some reason, you cannot afford the recommended fee (e.g., you are unemployed; living on a precariously low budget; or do not have access to your partner’s income), we will work with you to come up with an acceptable amount.
Donor contributions help keep our doors open. With your support we can continue to provide services to women and girls of all income levels.
Clients are assigned to counselors on a first-come, first-served basis. When our counselors have full caseloads, we start a waiting list.
The Women’s Center is a teaching agency. In the same way that the University of Michigan Medical Center uses medical interns and residents under the supervision of an attending physician to provide crucial medical services, we rely on interns (master’s and doctoral students from surrounding universities) to provide crucial counseling services. These interns — graduate students in social work and counseling — work under the supervision of seasoned clinicians. We take our responsibility for training therapists very seriously.
In addition to our interns and clinical supervisors, a number of “adjunct” therapists from the community also donate their time and their talents to the Center.
We do not have a doctor or psychiatrist on staff, so clients with serious persistent medical or psychiatric disorders must demonstrate that they have an ongoing relationship with a medical professional.
The Room to Talk practice group, located in The Women’s Center space, accepts a variety of insurances. Room to Talk is continually adding mental health insurances and therapists. In the initial 15- to 20-minute interview, our intake specialist will ask for your insurance information. After contacting the health insurance representative in your behalf, we will call you back with an estimate of what it would cost you to use your insurance compared with our sliding-fee scale. This gives you an opportunity to weigh the costs and benefits of each.
Our services are open to people within traveling distance of our office. If you can make it to our location in Ann Arbor, we will find a way to serve you.
The word “feminist” means different things to different people. To us, feminism means equality and respect no matter where we fall on the gender spectrum.
If you think “feminist” means man-hating, separatist, and anti-family, then, absolutely no.
If, on the other hand, “feminist” stands for inclusiveness, equality, and social justice, then, yes, we do have a feminist orientation. We strive to live the last three principles every day, in the way we relate to our colleagues, our clients, and our community. If the way we work with our clients is to be called feminist therapy or a feminist perspective, then it is because it is based on how highly we value you and your individual “story,” how much we endeavor to work without hierarchy, how often we make decisions together, and how deeply we believe in your innate strength.
We try to be inclusive, without judgments and without “isms”—to best meet you where you need to be met.