Girls and young women today are struggling, despite having an unprecedented amount of freedom and choices. Experts agree, girls are experiencing record amounts of depression, anxiety and other mental illness. The factors contributing to this phenomenon are complex, but as a psychotherapist, and someone who is passionate about supporting girls' healthy development, I have learned a few things I would like to share.
Pre-adolescent girls are in a unique developmental phase: they are increasingly competent, capable, intuitive and educated; many still do not feel overly concerned with their appearance, nor of being liked or accepted by boys; many love animals, nature and being with other girls. Some describe girls this age as being connected to their "root self." In short, many girls this age seem to know who they are and express that in unabashed ways.
How can we, as caring adults, help girls to strengthen and maintain their connection with this "root self" during pre-adolescence, adolescence and adulthood?
Here's where Artemis comes in. In Greek Mythology, Artemis is the protector of girls and young women. She is the goddess of the hunt and a skilled archer who was said to have spent her days roaming the forest with her animal companions. She asked her father Zeus to allow her to remain chaste and unwed for eternity.
Artemis is a model of female development which is independent, powerful and whole. Artemis gained strength and power through her connection with nature and animals.
Like the Greek Goddess Artemis, many girls begin adolescence connected to their root selves. Yet, in early adolescence, peers, the media and other pressures push girls to grow up too quickly and lose their connection to their true and authentic selves. As a result, many adolescent girls change and become overly concerned about their appearance, social status and performance in school, undermining their connection to their root self, which leads to anxiety and depression.
During every Artemis Circle, I nurture each girl's connection to her independence, physical strength, intuition and imagination through hikes, art and poetry, within a safe space to make new friends. I also offer an evening talk for parents, during which we explore the above topics in more depth and I offer suggestions to help you support your daughter during this transition.
In the spirit of Artemis, Artemis Circle sets out to deepen each girl's connection to her unique and authentic Self, nature and peers, which she can then draw on in adolescence and throughout her life. Together, we can nurture your daughter's connection to her root self!