The Heroine’s Journey: Understanding Women’s Depression and Anxiety

To My Dearest Divine Gods and Goddesses,

I am delighted to be sharing this update with you on my last day in Copenhagen, Denmark! Fortuitously, my hotel room has wifi and I wanted to share this moment with you.

This picture is the view from my room…

First Hotel Kong Frederikson

The theme for this month,The Heroine’s Journey, has been on my mind, as I explored this new country and culture.

Fun fact about Denmark: it is reported to be the happiest country in the world. This is presumably due to several contributing factors:

  1. Denmark supports maternity leave for both mothers and fathers.
  2. Health care is a civil right — and a source of social support.
  3. Gender equality is prioritized.
  4. Danes feel a responsibility to each other and have high rates of volunteerism.

Given that levels of happiness are so high in Denmark, it is reasonable to assume that Danes also enjoy good mental health. But a study published in 2014 by the American Medical Association tells a different story.

When it comes to so-called “internalizing” conditions, rates for Danish women are higher than for Danish men: for anxiety disorders 19% of women will receive treatment compared with 13% of men; for depression the figures are 16% and 9% respectively.

Men, on the other hand, are more vulnerable to “externalizing” disorders: in Denmark 8% of men will receive treatment for alcohol or drug problems, twice the figure for women.

For both sexes and for most conditions, it usually manifests during adolescence and early adulthood.

The Grand Central of Copenhagen, Denmark

What does this have to do with The Heroine’s Journey?

There are ten stages to The Heroine’s Journey, which is a psycho-spiritual stage model of female identity development, created by Maureen Murdock.

The Heroine’s Journey is perhaps most uniquely characterized by the “Descent into the Dark Goddess,” which is a stage that looks exactly like anxiety and depression.

For this month’s live-online events, we are going to focus on three essential aspects, in a two-part presentation:

  1. The idea that all women experience a split or division within themselves that is the result of a societal disregard and devaluing of femininity.
  2. Women must confront this feminine wound on both a personal and archetypal level, in order to recover their feminine parts.
  3. This recovery leads to an integration of self that allows for a healthy and harmonious balance of feminine and masculine energies.
The Heroine who traveled with me and visited the famous Little Mermaid statue, in Copenhagen. 

A few disturbing statistics…

Raised on psychologies that examine a woman’s femininity as a reaction to a male paradigm (as opposed to her own inherent trajectory), women have become lost and unable to find our way back to center, leading to the highest rates of depression and anxiety ever recorded, in the United States.

  • Approximately 12 million women in the United States experience clinical depression each year (nearly twice the rate of men).
  • About one in every eight women can expect to develop clinical depression during their lifetime.
  • Depression occurs most frequently in women aged 25 to 44, and girls ages 14-18 have a consistently higher rate of depression than boys at this age.

With numbers like these, chances are you have experienced depression or anxiety yourself, or treated a woman struggling with it.

Please join me, live and online, to learn more about The Heroine’s Journey, and how this framework may be used in combination with mindfulness-based creative arts therapies interventions to help women in need. 

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The Heroine’s Journey Part I: Theory (1.5 CE’s)

This presentation includes:

  • Review of Psychodynamic Theory as it Applies to The Heroine’s Journey
  • Important Aspects of Female Adolescent Development
  • An introduction to an 8-week treatment protocol, Embracing the Feminine.
  • A Sample Experiential

Register for FREE!

For CE contact hours, LCATs will need to pay a $35 fee.

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The Heroine’s Journey Part II: Applications (1.5 CE’s)

This presentation includes:

  • A case study examined through the framework of The Heroine’s Journey
  • 3 creative arts therapies techniques that may be applied in treatment
  • An introduction to an 8-week treatment protocol, Embracing the Feminine.
  • A Guided Meditation Experiential

Register for FREE!

For CE contact hours, LCATs will need to pay a $35 fee.

This course is right for you, if you are…

  • A creative arts therapist
  • A mental health professional
  • Seeking self-help
  • Seeking creative inspiration

The framework of The Heroine’s Journey is primarily focused on the experiences of cisgendered women. However, I do believe that the work we cultivate around the “womb space,” which is also the sacrum or sacral chakra, can apply to all who wish to cultivate their feminine aspects.

The sacral chakra is associated with receptivity, emotional intelligence, affect regulation, the embracing of dualities, sexuality, pleasure, play, and creativity. It is where we first explore and learn to organize our sensuality and felt experiences.

Exploring this part of the self as represented by the energetic or spiritual body is a benefit to all, even if the physical “parts” may be different than that of a cisgendered woman, or have been surgically altered, removed, or damaged.

Be sure to look out for more emails this month on the topic of feminine empowerment, and feel free to reply to this email with any questions, comments or concerns. I’d love to hear from you!

Warmest regards,

Briana MacWilliam ATR-BC, LCAT

Please click here for Webinar FAQs.

If you have any problems or technical difficulties, please contact Briana MacWilliam at is recognized by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for Licensed Creative Arts Therapists. (#CAT-0014.)


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