Mirroring society, the menopause is an area of women’s lives that has been overlooked by psychotherapy, in theory, research and practice. This live webinar will address why a legacy of misogyny prevails in silencing discourse about the menopause and how as psychotherapists we need to confront this by focusing on it as an area of training, so we can better empower our clients to navigate this fundamental life-transition.
As the menopause is a bio-psycho-social-spiritual phenomenon we have designed the programme to offer multidisciplinary perspectives to enrich your understanding of what the menopause can mean for women. The speakers will offer their expertise from medicine and psychiatry, psychoanalysis, intercultural therapy with a focus on the black experience, and humanistic psycho-spirituality, and the neglected arena of affirming lived female embodiment. They will also offer personal, case insights and suggestions of how to work with the menopause in practice. There will be plenty of time for questions and we will close the webinar with a panel discussion which will enable some integration of the new learnings throughout the day.
Please note the content will primarily be about women’s experience but we acknowledge not all women experience menopause and not all people who experience menopause identify as women. We intend this to be an inclusive event that recognises subjectivity. We welcome therapists of all genders to join us to learn about how the menopause impacts people of all genders in a variety of ways.
This introductory talk will provide historical context as to why menopause has been overlooked in psychotherapy and where this leaves us today.
At menopause, women go through a new stage of psychological, social and physical development, in part driven by a sequence of hormonal changes. During perimenopause, the 3-5 years prior to the last menstrual period, physical changes can include weight gain, increased migraine severity, urogenital changes, and musculoskeletal pain. There is also an increased risk of mental health difficulties, including depression, suicidality, anxiety, irritability and psychotic symptoms at perimenopause. A variety of hormonal and non-hormonal treatments are available which can improve quality of life at menopause. However, treatment use is limited by lack of appreciation of menopausal symptoms by both women and their clinicians.
In patriarchal societies, women have historically been subjugated to male norms and depicted as mad, untrustworthy, and dangerous because of their wombs, menstrual cycles and fluctuating hormones. This misogynistic legacy has been inherited by psychoanalytic theory which has demeaned and pathologised women’s bodies and minds. Women are either depicted as irrational victims of their own bodies, or shamed if they express their physicality and sexuality. Nowhere is this degradation clearer than regarding the menopause. Therapeutic attention to this transition in women’s lives is limited and inadequate. Top-down misogynistic notions which perpetuate the Cartesian divide between mind and body are imposed rather than supporting a woman’s subjective, holistic and sociocultural meaning-making of her menopausal experience. Sarah will consider how if we seek to integrate psychological and physical menopausal experiences as part of the psychoanalytic endeavour rather than exclude it as a ‘medical concern’ we can better empower women today.
In this talk Dr Rolston will share a collection of deeply empowering and personal stories bringing together a wide range of Black experiences on the menopause journey. Drawing on the historical and cultural importance of storytelling traditions in African and Caribbean ancestry, these stories break through a taboo topic that has too often been mired in shame and silence with courage and vulnerability. With a focus on emotional, mental and sexual health this talk will offer a space to think about the experiences that black women face in the menopausal journey from more extreme physical and psychological impact combined with a less responsive system of support and understanding to help as they navigate this important transition.
Jane Catherine has developed ‘Femenome®’ a radical psyche-logical approach to therapy with women, which challenges predominant narratives of menopause as a solely negative and debilitating time in a woman’s life. She illuminates how it can offer a revelatory connection to a deeper feminine consciousness and connection to Self, leading to a more fulfilled and satisfying second half of life. Jane Catherine’s talk will offer a clear model for understanding what the menopause is trying to create within us. She will provide tools and practical strategies for working with the menopause as well as case examples. With passion and profound insight, Jane Catherine will illuminate the whole new world of therapeutic potential that the menopause can open by listening to rather than ignoring it in psychotherapy.
Drawing on a multidisciplinary perspective to support clients through the menopause in psychotherapy