An Interview with Dr. Manijeh Daneshpour- The MFT Feminist

About Dr. Manijeh: “Manijeh Daneshpour is a professor of marriage and family therapy in the department of couple and family therapy at Alliant International University in Irvine, California and a licensed marriage and family therapist with 20 years of academic, research, and clinical experience. Dr. Daneshpour has served as the chair of Minnesota Board of Marriage and Family Therapy as well as chair of the election committee for the Minnesota Association for Marriage and Family Therapist. She is from Iran and identifies herself as a third wave feminist. Dr. Daneshpour main areas of research, publications, and presentations have been centered on issues of multiculturalism, social justice, third wave feminism, premarital and marital relationships, and Muslim family dynamics. She has studied Muslim families not as a religious group but as individuals, members of family units, and a distinct group within their own societal context. She has recently published a book titled: Family Therapy with Muslims using classic and contemporary family therapy theories in working with Muslim families cross culturally.”-Retrieved from:


The Interview:



  • Did you face any challenges in your journey of becoming a doctor, professor, and systemwide director? If so, can you please explain to us what they were and why you think you faced them?


I faced many challenges in my journey in getting my doctorate in MFT.  I wanted to become a marriage and family therapist and not a family scientist and my program was very skeptical that a Muslim woman wearing a headscarf with a middle eastern accent can actually see clients in the U.S. and become a successful clinician.  They encouraged me to get a family social science degree and go back to Iran and practice over there.  I took clinical courses and found an internship without any help from the department and managed to get an academic job and also practice as an MFT for the past 20 years without any positive reinforcement or encouragement from my professors and supervisors.  However, in my professional journey, I have not faced many challenges. I have worked very hard, have shown impressive leadership skills, and have been highly qualified for any job that I have been offered.  


  • How do you define “feminism” ? Do you think Feminism is it important ? Why?


Feminism is believing in the fact that patriarchy has dampened women’s ability to use their full potentials to contribute in many positive ways to their societies and both men and women should fight for women equality.  I don’t believe that the U.S. is less patriarchal than many other countries and American women have more rights than many other places.  I also believe that feminist movement is very important because without equality between men and women both gender suffer the consequences of their gender socialization.  I strongly believe in any praxis that can help women use their true and full potentials in any arena they want. 


  • Do you think there is such thing as a “right feminist” versus a “wrong feminist”? Should there be a rule of how women/men should act and speak if they are feminists?


No, no, no…there are no right versus wrong feminist movements and there are absolutely no rules…this just takes away from our commitment to the real struggle we need to continue to be committed to. 


  • What are you thoughts about feminism now versus 10 years ago? Do you think we have progressed?


I don’t think there is that much difference between 10 years ago and now…we have not made as much progress.  The election of Donald Trump is the best example of how misogyny and sexism are alive in this country. 


  • What are some tips you would want to advice young women on who want to be in powerful roles in society like yourself?


I think women should become as educated, self-reliant, and strong as they can and never become financially dependent on men.  Women’s financial dependence is the biggest source of problems for women in all societies. 


  • How can we involve more men into speaking about feminism and gender-related issues?


Men suffer the consequences of gender inequality because they get boxed into behaving a certain way and believing certain stereotypes of themselves.   Women need to engage men in these conversations and try to convince them that gender inequality makes men and women suffer. 


  • Do you ever feel moments of exhaustion as a woman with a powerful leadership role? If so, how do you do self care?


Yes, I do get exhausted but I am on a mission to fight against stereotypes which make me very passionate about my leadership roles to make a difference.   I have a very supportive and loving husband who believes in the feminist movement and two lovely daughters who have been raised in a feminist household so they all help me ground myself and take care of my soul when I feel tired. 


  • And Lastly, did you ever face backlash from your culture and family for being a feminist?


I am very fortunate that I come from a long line of strong and independent women. My great grandmother left my great grandfather who was a very well-known religious scholar with 6 children and lived independently without divorcing him at the time that women living without their husbands were extremely rare.   My entire family of origin is very supportive of strong women’s roles.  My father put me in an all boy school when I was growing up because he believed that gender is a social construct and wanted me to learn to become a strong leader. My two sisters who are 7 years older and 8 years younger than I are also both professors with high leadership positions in universities in Iran.    



Muslim families and family therapy

Social axioms in Iran and Canada: Intercultural contact, coping and adjustment

Factors of successful marriage: Accounts from self described happy couples

Lives together, worlds apart? The lives of multicultural Muslim couples

Cancer’s impact on spousal caregiver health: A qualitative analysis in grounded theory

An examination of proactive coping and social beliefs among Christians and Muslims

Bridges crossed, paths traveled: Muslim intercultural couples

Couple therapy with Muslims: challenges and opportunities

Iranian successful family functioning: Communication

Stress and Adaptation among Iranian Families: A Multisystem Model of Personal, Couple, Family, and Work System

Self Described Happy Couples and Factors of Successful Marriage in Iran

Exploration of Cross-Cultural Couples’ Marital Adjustment: Iranian American Women Married to European American Men

Family Therapy with Muslims

Exploration of CrossCultural Couples’ Marital Adjustment: Iranian American Women Married to European American Men

A ‘mini-narrative” about my Praxis as a Muslim Feminist.

Cultural Neuroscience: Child and Adolescent Brain Development.

Cancer’s Impact on Caregiver Emotional Health: A Qualitative Analysis in Grounded Theory.

Self described happy couples and factors of successful marriage in Iran

Guest Editor’s Introduction: Systemic Thinking in Working with Muslim Families: The Importance of Marriage and Family Therapy Perspective

Factors of successful marriage: Accounts from self-described happy couples

Steadying the Tectonic Plates

Bridges Crossed, Paths Traveled Muslim Intercultural Couples Manijeh Daneshpour

My immigration Journey from Iran to Utah!.

Muslim Immigrant Families: Strengths and Challenges

Book Review: Explorations in Privilege, Oppression and Diversity by Sharon K. Anderson & Valerie Middleton

Book Review: Spiritual Resources in Family Therapy, Walsh, F. (1999). New York, NY, 301 pages, Guilford Press.


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