Dr. Teresa Bernandez
Former psychiatrist and Michigan State University faculty member, 1980
59% of Women's Center counseling clients are supporting themselves and/or their children; 27% of these have young children.
Our counseling clients are about twice as likely to have suicidal thoughts than other Washtenaw County women and 9 times more likely than men. At the end of counseling last year, the percentage of Women’s Center clients who were severely anxious/depressed was less than half than when they started.
A majority of clients also improved on other dimensions – “greater confidence,” “feeling more in control of my life,” and “better able to deal with life’s challenges.”
Our therapists help clients address the impact of systemic inequities (such as unequal pay, racial discrimination, caregiving responsibilities, undocumented status, legal and financial consequences of divorce, coercive relationships) on their emotional, financial, and physical health.
Helping women change their lives
Hear from Ann Arbor resident Susan interviewed in 2013. After a major life crisis, Susan benefited from 33 hours of personal counseling, 12 hours of group instruction on finances and family law, and 7 hours of individualized job coaching at The Women’s Center.
Amy is a young married professional from Ann Arbor, struggling with depression and anxiety. After the death of her father, Amy found herself suddenly responsible for her mother, who has a disability, and who continues to relate to her in ways that Amy found overwhelming as a child.
As a first generation Asian-American, she is caught between her duty as a Chinese daughter and her desire to set more American-type boundaries around her work, partner-relationships, and responsibility for an aging parent. She is also looking for another job with fewer hours and the ability to work from home, so that she can balance competing priorities.
Over the course of 11 months, Amy benefited from 19 hours of personal counseling and 3 hours of individualized Job Coaching at The Women’s Center.
Amy reports that she is still looking for a job that can better accommodate her caregiving responsibilities and lower the cost of childcare. Her ability to address her depression and anxiety has improved. “My therapist helped me with self-care and to identify and accept my emotions before they spiral out of control.”
She is using many of the skills she practiced in therapy — assertiveness, emotional containment, and mindfulness.
“I am taking a cue from my three-year-old,” Amy says, “who is open and direct about what she wants and what she feels without being shamed for it.”