Dissertations and Theses

Date of Award


Document Type




First Advisor

Elliot Jurist

Second Advisor

Katie Gentile

Third Advisor

Teresa Lopez-Castro


Psychotherapy, Menstruation, Menstrual Bodyfulness, PMS, Menstrual Health, Psychodynamic


There is a dearth of literature on psychotherapy and menstruation, except for the treatment and diagnosis of issues associated with premenstrual distress. This study aimed to bridge this gap by investigating the frequency and context of discussions about the menstrual cycle, the factors influencing therapists’ engagement with this topic, and the therapeutic approaches utilized to address the menstrual cycle within psychotherapy.

In phase 1, 118 psychotherapists from various theoretical backgrounds completed a survey on menstruation in clinical practice. The data was analyzed using descriptive statistics. In phase 2, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 7 psychotherapists, primarily identifying their theoretical orientation as psychodynamic. Thematic analysis was employed to analyze interview data.

Quantitative findings indicated that menstruation was discussed about half of the time or more in 55% of participants’ cisgender female caseloads. Additionally, 94% reported clinical experiences, in which discussing menstruation was clinically important, with the premenstrual mood and emotional changes being the most discussed topic.

Qualitative findings were grouped into three themes: (1) Sociocultural Context, (2) Interventions Used to Work with the Menstrual Cycle, and (3) Factors Influencing Therapists’ Engagement. The social discourse surrounding menstruation entailed topics such as menstrual taboo, negativity, and its portrayal as an experience of womanhood.

Participants highlighted the lack of training in working with the menstrual cycle in clinical work and how this impacted their work. Participants also discussed how their gender, aging, and personal experiences with menstruation impacted their engagement. Therapeutic interventions entailed listening for menstrual subjectivity, fostering greater bodyfulness, and supporting patients in navigating healthcare for menstrual issues. Addressing the premenstrual and menstrual changes was commonly discussed. Participants explored the impact of cycle awareness, interventions for fostering increased awareness and self-care, and encountered challenges in this area.

Recommendations for clinical work and future research are outlined based on these findings.

Available for download on Sunday, December 15, 2024