For Women’s History Month, we wanted to put the spotlight on the women who have made mental health history. Women have made great professional strides over the years, especially in the realm of psychology. In the past, women were stereotyped as hysterical and weren’t taken seriously or given the proper treatment. This was especially true for women of color. The women we have highlighted below have paved the way for the way we look at psychology and mental health today, and have made it safer for marginalized groups to get the help they need.
E. Kitch Childs, Ph.D.
E Kitch Childs is one of the founders of the Association for Women in Psychology and Chicago’s Gay Liberation Front. She plays an important role as a leader of women in mental health. In her day, she implemented feminist therapy and used it to help black women and their experiences in America. Not only did she own her own practice, but she gave therapy to members of the LGBTQ+ community and other marginalized groups.
Mamie Phipps Clark, Ph.D.
Mamie Phipps Clark was the first Black woman to get her PhD in psychology from Columbia University. During her time in college, she realized the scarcity of mental health services available to minorities, especially the Black community. She is known for her work on the “Doll Study”, where 200 African American children participated. The Doll Study gave evidence in the court case Brown vs The Board of Education, and helped the court recognize that segregation was mentally harming African American children.
Beverly Greene, Ph.D.
Beverly Greene is a pioneer of intersectional psychology. She is also the author of the article “When the Therapist is White and the Patient is Black: Considerations for Psychotherapy in the Feminist Heterosexual and Lesbian Communities.” She is known for her work on heterosexism, sexism, and racism. The research she has done has shed light on how different parts of a person’s identity shape their experiences with mental health. Watch her interview here to hear her thoughts on being an African American feminist in therapy.
Hope Landrine, Ph.D.
Dr. Hope Landrine was known as an expert in psychology and public health. She was also known for the research she presented on the inequality that was running rampant in diagnosing patients with psychiatric disorders. This research showed that the stereotypes of minorities and poor people were impacting psychiatric diagnoses. This research is published in “The Politics of Madness.”
Melanie Klein is known for her work with children, particularly in her development of the play therapy technique. In her studies, she realized that children’s play can be analyzed in the same way that adult’s dreams can. She was responsible for taking psychology in a new direction, recognizing the correlation between what happens to people in early childhood and their emotions as an adult.
Mary Ainsworth is an incredibly important figure in child psychology and is known for her development of the attachment theory. To observe the attachment styles of children, she designed the “Strange Situation” procedure. This procedure includes eight 3-minute episodes where a stranger, child, and mother are acquainted, separated, and then reunited.
Dr. Inez Beverly Prosser
Inez Beverly Prosser was the first African American woman to receive her PhD in Psychology in 1933. This was an incredible accomplishment for all women, especially Black women. She was an inspiration for women and proved to them that they, too, could further their education, become doctors of psychology, and step firmly into the professional world.
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Alli Cravener is a social media coordinator and writer who is passionate about connecting people through words. Alli studied English at Arizona State University and has found her niche uniting concept and content in the realm of mental health and the expressive arts. Alli’s interests include painting, history, learning about other people, and wearing the color pink. She likens herself to a “mouse in a palm tree”, and she loves it that way.