OUR STORY, LIKE EVERY STORY, STARTED WITH A VISION AND BECAME A REALITY
In 1986, a number of the founders of the Counseling Center for Women met at the Israel Women’s Network. Together, they devised the vision of establishing a feminist counseling center for women. With the sponsorship of the Women’s Network, a large scale meeting was organized, a gathering of professional women in the mental health field who were interested in integrating a feminist approach into their work. Out of that gathering, a group of 11 women, all clinical psychologists and clinical social workers, came together and founded the Counseling Center for Women, with the purpose of promoting the feminist psychological approach and a gender sensitive viewpoint in the field of mental health in Israel.
ACTION IS NOT A ONE–TIME OCCURRENCE, AND IT NECESSITATED OURSTUDY AND COMMITMENT
For about 2 years, we met twice a month, in order to discuss every possible aspect of the feminist influence on our personal and professional lives, and to study feminist therapeutic literature, which was only in its earliest developmental stage. We also set up marathon meetings in order to define our philosophies and consolidate our commitment.
AND THEN IT HAPPENED
After 2 years of group study and discussions, the ’Collective’ was established, which included the “Founding Mothers” of the Counseling Center for Women. The ’Collective” began to function officially, offering professional clinical services with a feminist orientation, and in 1988 it was registered as a non-profit organization. “We were living out the feminist axiom ’the personal is political.’ We were full of energy and excitement about the possibility of influencing Israeli society in a new and innovative way.” (Brenner, Roseman, Savran and Singer, among the founders of the Counseling Center for Women, 2001)
THE LONGER WE CONTINUED OUR ACTIVITIES, THE MORE WOMEN BEGAN TO HEAR ABOUT THE CENTER AND COME IN FOR THERAPY
Today, more than 300 women are being treated at the Center each week, by a staff of 25 professional women – clinical social workers, clinical psychologists and psychiatrists – who specialize in therapy with women, and with women suffering from trauma in particular. The Center provides more than 10,000 hours of individual, group, couples and family therapy each year, along with training programs for professional women, educational programs and workshops in the community.
The women who come to the Counseling Center for Women for therapy are dealing with challenges, hardships and mental difficulties that damage their quality of life, such as juggling career and home roles, body image, parenthood and relationships, trauma as a result of sexual abuse, bereavement, eating disorders and more.
We are glad to be a part of a Center that recognizes and cherishes the differences among women. The women who come to the Center, just like its staff members, reflect all of the nuances of society in Israel: younger women and older women; secular, traditional, religious and ultra-Orthodox women; Jews, Muslims and Christians; Ashkenazi and Mizrahi ; heterosexuals, lesbians and women from the entire LBGTQ spectrum; veteran Israeli women and new immigrants; women from all economic levels; single, married, divorced and widowed women; mothers and women who define themselves as childless or childfree.
WE EXEMPLIFY THE PRINCIPLE OF EQUALITY, EVEN IN THE WAY WE WORK TOGETHER
All of the members of the staff at the Center take an equal part in setting policies and making decisions. Management at the Center is not hierarchical. It is made up of a number of committees of Center therapists who are responsible for various parts of the organization, alongside the administrative staff. The Board of Directors works in cooperation with the staff, and is involved in developing the vision and resources of the Center and advancing its goals.
We believe that real change happens through contemplation and action within a social context. The Center is also active outside the therapy room, through community projects and through the education and training of professionals and students. We collaborate with many institutions and organizations, with the goal of improving the level of services and therapy that are provided daily to thousands of women through public and private frameworks. In the year 2000, the Counseling Center for Women won the award for “Women Who Have Made a Change in Advancing the Status of Women” from the American Jewish Congress and the Israel Women’s Network.
OUR STORY IS STILL A WORK IN PROGRESS, INFLUENCING THE LIVES OF WOMEN -- INCLUDING OUR OWN LIVES.
Our story includes feminist perspectives and emphasizes women’s roles. This principle guides us in therapy sessions, and in the way that we train women in the therapeutic professions as well as professionals in other fields such as education, community work, management and others. We believe that a woman’s journey through life has a unique perspective, unique needs and unique aspirations that command an appropriate and respectful approach
We have shared the story of the Center with you, from its founding until today. As we continue to write our story, we invite you to join us and let us become a part of your story, as clients or as therapists.