Photo of Cathy Hauer

Cathy Hauer



Training Location(s):

MS, San Diego State University (1984)

BA, University of California, San Diego (1978)

Primary Affiliation(s):

Career Focus:

Individual and couples therapy; feminist psychotherapy; LGBT* mental health; coping with chronic illness, grief and loss.


Cathy R. Hauer was born in Los Angeles County, California in 1956. Psychology and feminism were present in her life from an early age; Hauer’s mother was a psychiatric social worker, her father had always wanted to be a psychiatrist, and her older sister was a life-long feminist and also a lesbian. At age 19, Hauer took a women’s assertiveness training class offered through the nascent Women’s Center at the University of California (UC) San Diego. There, she met the first woman she became involved with. Hauer describes the environment of the class as warm and nurturing, as was her older sister in this regard: “I felt very comfortable in that part of my family (my sister) just knowing there was support.”

After receiving her BA in the performing arts from UC San Diego, Hauer became increasingly involved in social justice-oriented activities. She provided sign language interpretation at political women’s community events in San Diego. She also completed a rape crisis training program at the Center for Women’s Studies and Services (CWSS). While working as a rape crisis counselor, Hauer learned of a “non-mainstream” counseling program offered at San Diego State University. She applied to the program and was accepted. As she recalls, “I loved how diverse it was; my life has never replicated that much diversity. As a counseling training program, it wasn’t [particularly strong], but as a ‘how to be a social change agent,’ it was.”

Hauer completed her MS in Counseling at San Diego State University in 1984, and became a licensed marriage and family therapist in 1987. She went on to do grassroots social change and counseling work with various agencies before founding her own private practice, specializing in work with the LGBT* community, chronic illness, and grief/loss, among other specialties and interests.

Hauer’s (1997) article "Parallel Process: Client and Therapist Explore Motherloss," was co-published simultaneously in the journal Women & Therapy and in the volume "More Than a Mirror: How Clients Influence Therapists’ Lives." In this article, Hauer describes helping a client work through the loss of her mother, an experience that simultaneously helped Hauer heal her own motherloss. She writes, “it was as if by watching her take a new perspective on her life through understanding the effect of not just her mother’s death but the way it was handled, I was able to do the same for myself in spite of the very different circumstances” (Hauer, 1997, p. 124). Hauer acknowledges that it is taboo to discuss how therapists themselves receive healing through giving therapy. “Even writing about it now is a wonderful yet risky antidote to the typical silence in our profession about these very real aspects of the therapeutic process” (Hauer, 1997, p. 123).

As a Jewish lesbian, Hauer has experienced marginalization on a personal as well as a community level. In an effort to contribute to social justice, she has provided consultations and classes in diversity, multicultural issues, and homophobia awareness. Hauer also works to ensure that members of marginalized groups, such as queer people and people of colour, will feel comfortable coming to her for therapy. She explains:

A person who is on the queer spectrum wants to know that they can come into therapy and that they’re not going to be looked at as 'other,' that they will be warmly welcomed, they will not be pathologized for any aspect of their queer identity or thoughts or feelings thereabout, and a person wants to know that they will not have to answer too many questions about that aspect of their identity. They don’t have to educate the therapist or play catch-up. (...) I make sure that I have office art that is definitely not of white people, and I also try to have art that doesn’t look like it was made by white people.

Hauer strives to apply an anti-oppressive framework within her sessions. She notes the importance of being aware of the power and control dynamics unfolding in the room, in terms of social hierarchies as well as on the individual level. “Any good feminist therapist should always be aware of that. (...) If I’m unaware of the other kinds of power and control issues that can be happening in the weird therapist-client dynamic, then I’m missing a whole other aspect of what’s going on in the room.”

As her sense of feminism has developed, Hauer’s perspective on Judaism has shifted. She notes that the two “never felt at odds,” although the Jewish experiences in her life from her 20s to her 40s were minimal except for the occasional feminist Seder:

I was also aware that there were a lot of restrictions about what women could or couldn’t do, and when I grew up the religious experiences I did have were mostly never seeing a woman on the bimah and never questioning that until I got radicalized and questioned it and was really turned off. In that sense, there’s a huge discrepancy between Judaism and feminism, but my Jewish values were consistent with feminist values.

Hauer has been involved with the Association for Women in Psychology (AWP) and a subgroup called the Jewish Women’s Caucus since the early 1990s. She cites regular, active participation as an important source of activist comaraderie and exposure to stimulating advances in feminist thought. In 2007, Hauer co-coordinated the San Francisco AWP conference with her partner/spouse, Nancy Baker, a clinical psychologist who also served as the president the American Psychological Association’s Division 35 (Society for the Psychology of Women) in 2004-2005. When discussing her relationship with feminism and psychology, Hauer describes how feminist psychology has enriched her life:

I feel like feminist psychology has helped me look at things very multi-dimensionally (...). Feminism is the place from which you can never go back. Once you’ve had your eyes opened to what sexism is and what inequality is and what gendered this that and the other is, you can’t unlearn that, you can’t un-think that, and mostly, it totally enriches and enhances my perspective on the universe. Once your consciousness is raised, you don’t go back from that.

Hauer sat on the board of directors of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT), Santa Clara Valley chapter, for four years and was heavily nvolved in their Committee in Therapist Well-Being. She and her spouse are also long-time donors to the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).

Through her lifelong commitment to social justice and psychology, Cathy Hauer has worked to make the world a safer place for marginalized groups on individual as well as community and national levels. Her dedication has contributed to the development of a more inclusive Psychology.

By Luci Belknap (2018)

To cite this article, see Credits

Selected Works

By Cathy Hauer

Hauer, C. R. (1997). Parallel process: client and therapist explore motherloss In Hill, M. (Ed.), More than a mirror: How clients influence therapists’ lives (pp. 119-126). New York: Harrington Park Press.

Hauer, C. R. (1997). Parallel process: client and therapist explore motherloss. Women & Therapy, 20(1), 119-126.