TCP was founded as the Feminist Therapy Collective (FTC) in 1972. A group of visionary feminist therapists sought to challenge social inequities that existed in the mental health field at the time. These founding mothers created a center just for women that would remove the barrier of cost and supplant the patriarchal medical model in order for low-income women to access quality empowering psychotherapy focusing on healing and transformation over pathology and profit.
FTC’s mission was to “ … to build the confidence, self-esteem, and power of women individually and collectively.”
They identified a group of women who were working but were under or uninsured and did not qualify for subsidized benefits. They wanted support but barriers prevented them from accessing help – fear of stigma and judgment, long waiting lists, insurance requirements, or lack of finances. Thus the Feminist Therapy Collective was formed to remove these barriers and offer therapy that was affordable and empowered women. They also served middle class women, including housewives and college students who felt unserved by the Freudian-biased therapy of the time.
Founding Mothers Then and Now
Marylou Butler, Dianne Chambless, Sylvia Elias, Deborah Fernoff, Jean Ferson, Marilyn Johnson, Pat Mikols, Sandra Prince-Embury, And Rosemary Robbins
As demand grew, FTC recognized the need to formalize. In the mid-1980s, the agency recruited a board of directors; diversified staff and board to better reflect its clientele and to improve cultural competence; applied for grant funding; and hired their first administrative coordinator. To reflect this shift, the name was changed to Women’s Therapy Center (WTC). The feminist goal of the agency towards addressing issues of social inequities remained—providing quality, affordable psychotherapy to low-income women that valued accessibility, healing, and transformation over pathology and profit.
In 2011, again WTC responded to an emerging community need and explored expanding its mission to also serve transgender communities. We decided to explore this issue directly and embarked on a journey that included educational trainings, hard discussions, more training, and more discussions. In June of 2013, the staff and board unanimously voted to work towards providing fully trans-inclusive and affirming services. We determined that it wasn’t up to us to determine who was “female” or “woman” enough or who became “too male” to access services. We determined that if a transgender person felt safer coming to us for therapy because of our mission, we wanted to honor that. Since the vote, we have dedicated time and resources to attend to the many areas that needed shifting including: organizational structure and leadership, clinical services, outreach and marketing, physical space, and community involvement and accountability. We documented this process in a Transparency Report, located on our website.
This organizational expansion also included us reassessing our name to make it fully trans-inclusive. We explored many options and eventually identified a new name – the Therapy Center of Philadelphia (TCP), with the tag line Wholeness. Transformation. Connection, to reflect the growth and expansion the agency has experienced.
Today, TCP is proud that we have evolved the mission of our founding mothers to remain relevant in today’s world. We offer affordable psychotherapy to over 350 women and transgender communities a year and will continue to strive to be community-driven in our mission and to help our clients get better and stay better.