Finding a voice in shakti: a therapeutic approach for Hindu Indian women

Neha Kirtane, Suni Petersen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Despite their growing numbers, Asian Indians in the U.S., specifically Indian women, seek mental health services at a lower rate than other populations, but not due to a lesser need. This paper seeks to present an emergent intervention model for working with Hindu Indian immigrant and second-generation women by incorporating components of Hinduism and an understanding of the cultural ideals and gender roles in Indian culture. Cultural values and religious beliefs are explored through descriptions of the roles of women, impact of immigration, and the ethnic-specific constructs of mental illness and spiritual functioning for this population. Special emphasis is placed on the Hindu concept of Shakti, spiritual feminine power, explicating the conflict between the dichotomous roles maintained by Indian women living in the U.S. and ways in which Shakti can serve as a construct of change in the therapeutic process. Information for a therapist to apply these principles even when unfamiliar with Hinduism is provided.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFeminist Reflections on Growth and Transformation
Subtitle of host publicationAsian American Women in Therapy
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9780203726242
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013


  • Asian-American
  • Asian-Indian
  • Culture
  • Hinduism
  • Multicultural counseling
  • Women


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