Clinical Social Work Journal

, Volume 46, Issue 1, pp 1–7 | Cite as

Not Good at Friends: Bringing a Woman’s Friendships into the Frame in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

  • F. Diane Barth
Original Paper


For many women in therapy, friends and friendship are often an ongoing source of support and encouragement as well as conflict and pain. This “psychological sea” (Rangell in J Am Psychoanal Assoc 11:3–54, 1963) frequently acts as a quiet background to any therapeutic process, playing a largely unexamined role in a wide range of relational and psychodynamic areas. When these relationships move into the foreground of therapeutic exploration, they are often understood as contemporary repetitions of familial and historical relational patterns. I have found, however, in my own work and in the work of clinicians I teach and supervise, that women clients’ friendships can sometimes hold keys to important, unarticulated and even unrecognized relational and intrapsychic issues of their own, sometimes separate from or only marginally related to family dynamics. This article examines some of these patterns and the psychodynamics they may reveal.


Women’s friendships Myth of women’s friendships Femininity Womanliness Conflicts in women’s friendships 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

F. Diane Barth, LCSW, declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by the author, F. Diane Barth, LCSW.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.New YorkUSA

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