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
1. Sisters of the Heart: How Women’s Friendships Heal 2. Feminist Therapy as a Path to Friendship with Women 3. Acts of Remembering: Relationship in Feminist Therapy 4. Growing at the Hyphen: Female Friendships and Social Context 5. Hermanas de Corazón y Alma 6. Comadres: The Healing Power of a Female Bond 7. A Complicated Friendship 8. Sisters of the Heart Along the Way: The Power of the Female Mentoring Relationship 9. Sister of the Heart and Mind: Healing and Teaching with Family System Constellations 10. Sister Friends: A Reflection and Analysis of the Therapeutic Role of Sisterhood in African American Women’s Lives 11. Awakening Resilience: Recovery Within Intimate Female Friendships 12. Make New Friends but Keep the Old: The Sisterhood Bonds that Have Shaped Me 13. SisterHeart: How Intimate Friendships Empower and Transform Women