Psychologists, as well as the general public, have recognized the importance of female friendships. Scientists call this bond the tending instinct- a kind of female relaxation response that has salutary effects. Such special attachment shields women from isolation and provides an enhanced sense of wellbeing. Intimate friends can therefore act as sisters of the heart to promote connection, solace, wholeness, and longevity. Moreover, women friends frequently provide emotional, social, physical, and spiritual benefits. Indeed, sisters of the heart constitute an unparalleled bond that encourages women to connect with themselves, with others, and with the world at large. In this book, twelve women therapists, who are diverse in age-- young, middle, and older women; as well as in ethnicity--White, African American, Latina, Asian American, Native American, and multiracial women---examine the psychological and physical aspects of this unique female bonding. Through their narratives we hear their distinctive voices as women and as healers. In this fashion, they reflect on both the functional and dysfunctional dynamics occurring between intimate female friends. Finally, these women therapists examine how their experience with a sister of the heart informed their development as healers, and discuss how they use this special bond in psychotherapy with women.
This book was originally published as a special issue of Women & Therapy.
'This enlightening, iconic book is for anyone who wants to understand more about the powerful roles of friendships—including challenges--among women that facilitate their ability to survive and thrive. It is special in that the chapter authors are psychotherapists who describe the impact of female bonding, from scientific as well as personal bases. The descriptions are rooted in theory, research, extensive clinical experience and personal lives. Refreshing and much needed, this book will prove useful to professionals as well as any women or men who want to understand the value and salience of female relationships.'
Melba Vasquez, PhD, ABPP
Past President, American Psychological Association
Independent Practice, Austin, Texas
Table of Contents
1. Sisters of the Heart: How Women’s Friendships Heal Lillian Comas-Diaz and Marcella Bakur Weiner
2. Feminist Therapy as a Path to Friendship with Women Laura S. Brown
3. Acts of Remembering: Relationship in Feminist Therapy Sherri Taylor
4. Growing at the Hyphen: Female Friendships and Social Context Pratyusha Tummala-Narra
5. Hermanas de Corazón y Alma Carrie L. Castañeda-Sound
6. Comadres: The Healing Power of a Female Bond Lillian Comas-Diaz
7. A Complicated Friendship Louise Bordeaux Silverstein
8. Sisters of the Heart Along the Way: The Power of the Female Mentoring Relationship Jennifer Ruff
9. Sister of the Heart and Mind: Healing and Teaching with Family System Constellations Janice Crawford
10. Sister Friends: A Reflection and Analysis of the Therapeutic Role of Sisterhood in African American Women’s Lives Thema Bryant-Davis
11. Awakening Resilience: Recovery Within Intimate Female Friendships Iva GreyWolf
12. Make New Friends but Keep the Old: The Sisterhood Bonds that Have Shaped Me Michi Fu
13. SisterHeart: How Intimate Friendships Empower and Transform Women Lillian Comas-Diaz
Lillian Comas-Diaz, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice, and Clinical Professor at the George Washington University School of Medicine, USA. She is the author of over a hundred publications. Her recent books include: Multicultural Care: A Clinician’s Guide to Cultural Competence; and, Women Psychotherapists: Journeys in Healing (with M. B. Weiner).
Marcella Bakur Weiner, Ph.D., is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and has a doctorate in metaphysics/theology. She is Author of twenty-three books and seventy-five articles, her most recent books include: Psychotherapy and Religion, Many Paths, One Journey; and, Women Psychotherapists: Journeys in Healing (with L. Comas-Diaz).
"This is a book about women, by women, using women’s lives and women’s ways of wresting broad understanding from the quotidian detritus of their everyday lives. Its appeal is probably primarily to women, especially women therapists, and perhaps even more pointedly to those with feminist leanings. But everyone, men and women, could benefit from what it illuminates about a significant developmental strand and support in women’s lives." - Harriette Kaley, Professor Emerita from City University of New York - Brooklyn College, PsycCRITIQUES,September 22, 2014, Vol. 59, No. 38, Article 6