Girl talk

Jeanette Bussey

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Jeanette Bussey is a marriage and family therapist at Empowerment Therapy Group, a private, talk therapy practice that opened this month in Reno. Learn more at

Tell me about the practice.

It’s called Empowerment Therapy Group, and it’s a practice specializing in life issues that affect primarily women and teenage girls, but we do work with families and couples and teen boys.

Why the focus on women?

I have reached out in the past for women’s services in this area and have come up a little bit short. … They’re hard to find. We have amazing resources in the nonprofit community offering these services, but very little talk therapy specifically geared toward women.

Why do women need specialized services?

So often, women don’t just take time for themselves. So often, women carry pressure on their shoulders—taking care of their families, supporting their husbands and kids, then moving into a life of supporting their own parents. Women are very unique creatures. We’re highly emotional and don’t often take the time to deal with those emotions, which can develop into depression and anxiety, which I see as not taking the time for self care.

What issues with teens are you seeing?

A lot of peer pressure, a lot of symptoms stemming off of that peer pressure—depression, body image—we deal a lot with body image. Drugs and alcohol are pretty high in the schools now and the pressure to go along with that lifestyle. All the way from cheerleaders to athletes to ROTC, we’re seeing a lot of drugs and alcohol with teens these days.

More so than before?

It’s become more accepted. When I was a teenager, it was the stoners, but now it’s a daily part of school. We have kids using heroin in the bathrooms or crushing pills. A lot of it goes with body image. Girls feel so pressured to look a certain way, and some girls are using these drugs to accomplish that at school. We talk a lot about empowering ourselves in the teen years with self respect, sexuality, building that identity while growing into a woman. It’s kind of a general theme—the thread I work through with all the women is the empowerment piece.

Who else is in the group practice?

There’re four individual counselors who work in this practice. The specialties range from substance abuse counseling to a counselor who specializes in eating disorders to the general family and marriage counseling. My specialty is really just in empowering the women. I do marriage and family counseling, but I focus primarily on women’s groups, support groups and the individual counseling of women and teen girls.

What drew you to this work specifically?

Really, the epiphany moment was working in the juvenile detention setting and spending months and months with these kids, empowering them, getting them clean and sober, giving them skills to go home—and then reentering them into a dysfunctional family where the parents may be using or experiencing poverty, and seeing how difficult it was for these young people to be successful when their families are dysfunctional. So seeing the different roles within the family affecting the health of the entire family unit.

And that comes back to the mother?

In our society, the mother is usually the one who is the common thread that holds everything together. All the roles in the family system has their unique place, but often it’s the mother that holds everything together.

That’s putting a lot of pressure on the mom.