Anti-Racism in Psychotherapy
Racism is a pervasive problem in society, and it can have a significant impact on the mental health of people of color. Psychotherapy can be a helpful tool for addressing the psychological effects of racism, but it is important for therapists to be aware of their own biases and to be intentional about creating a safe and supportive space for clients of color.
There are a number of ways that therapists can incorporate anti-racism into their practice. One important step is to educate themselves about the history and impact of racism. Therapists should also be aware of their own biases and how they may impact their work with clients of color. In addition, therapists can create a safe and supportive space for clients of color by acknowledging the impact of racism and by providing resources and support for clients who are struggling with the psychological effects of racism.
The History and Impact of Racism
Racism is a system of oppression that has been in place for centuries. It is based on the belief that some races are superior to others, and it has led to discrimination, violence, and the denial of basic rights to people of color. Racism has a significant impact on the mental health of people of color. Studies have shown that people of color are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder than white people. They are also more likely to attempt suicide.
The Role of Therapists
Psychotherapy can be a helpful tool for addressing the psychological effects of racism. Therapists can help clients to understand the impact of racism on their lives, to develop coping skills, and to build resilience. In addition, therapists can help clients to advocate for themselves and to challenge racism in their communities.
Creating a Safe and Supportive Space
One of the most important things that therapists can do is to create a safe and supportive space for clients of color. This means acknowledging the impact of racism and providing resources and support for clients who are struggling with the psychological effects of racism. It also means being aware of one's own biases and how they may impact one's work with clients of color.
There are a number of resources available to therapists who are interested in incorporating anti-racism into their practice. Some of these resources include:
The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) has a number of resources on anti-racism, including a toolkit for social workers on addressing racism in their practice.
The American Psychological Association (APA), including a guide for psychologists on addressing racism in their practice.
The Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development (AMCD), including a guide for counselors on addressing racism in their practice.
Anti-racism is an important part of psychotherapy. Therapists can play a vital role in addressing the psychological effects of racism by educating themselves about the history and impact of racism, by being aware of their own biases, and by creating a safe and supportive space for clients of color.
In addition to the resources listed above, there are a number of other ways that therapists can learn more about anti-racism and how to incorporate it into their practice. Some of these ways include:
By taking these steps, therapists can help to create a more just and equitable society for all people.
What do people need to know about anti-oppression work:
- Anti-oppression work is not about guilt or shame, but about responsibility and accountability¹
- Anti-oppression work requires ongoing learning, unlearning, and reflection on one's own racial identity, privilege, and bias¹
- Anti-oppression work involves listening to and amplifying the voices of People of Color, especially those who are marginalized by multiple systems of oppression¹
- Anti-oppression work means challenging and disrupting racism whenever and wherever one sees it, even if it is uncomfortable or risky¹
- Anti-oppression work demands solidarity and collaboration with other White people and People of Color who are committed to racial justice¹
- Anti-oppression work is not a one-time event or a checklist, but a lifelong commitment and a way of being¹
- Anti-oppression work is not about being a savior or a hero, but about being an ally and a co-conspirator¹
- Anti-oppression work is not about centering oneself or one's feelings, but about centering the experiences and needs of People of Color¹
- Anti-oppression work is not about perfection or purity, but about humility and growth¹
- Anti-oppression work is not about avoiding mistakes or criticism, but about learning from them and doing better¹
- Anti-oppression work is not about tokenism or diversity, but about equity and inclusion¹
- Anti-oppression work is not about defensiveness or denial, but about openness and honesty¹
- Anti-oppression work is not about blaming or judging others, but about examining and transforming oneself and one's community¹
- Anti-oppression work is not about being passive or silent, but about being active and vocal¹
- Anti-oppression work is not optional or extra, but essential and urgent¹
Activities of anti-racist organizers:
- Educating oneself and others about the history and effects of racism and anti-Blackness¹²
- Setting the intention to be anti-racist and mindful of one's words and actions¹
- Having courage to speak up and challenge racism when one sees it¹
- Recognizing and celebrating the individuality and humanity of people from different racial backgrounds and experiences¹
- Doing anti-racist work in one's own sphere of influence, such as workplace, community, or family¹²
- Advocating for equality and justice in laws and policies that affect Black Americans and other marginalized groups¹³
- Developing empathy and listening skills to understand the perspectives and emotions of others¹
- Seeking out allies and building coalitions with other anti-racist organizations and movements¹³
- Practicing love and compassion for oneself and others in the anti-racist journey¹
- Creating art that raises awareness and sparks conversations around social justice issues²
- Volunteering to support events, campaigns, or causes that promote anti-racism⁵
- Donating to anti-racist organizations or funds that support Black communities³⁵
- Engaging in nonviolent political activism, such as poster and flyer campaigns, mutual aid, speeches, protest marches, and community organizing⁴⁵
- Learning about the roots of racism and how it manifests in unconscious and automatic ways¹⁵
- Challenging the status quo and resisting complacency or denial in the face of racism¹⁵
Source: Conversation with Bing, 5/12/2023
(1) 10 Keys to Everyday Anti-Racism - Greater Good. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/ten_keys_to_everyday_anti_racism
(2) What You Can Do to Create an Anti-Racist Organization. https://www.hbs.edu/recruiting/insights-and-advice/blog/post/what-you-can-do-to-create-an-anti-racist-organization
(3) 20 Anti-Racism Organizations To Join & Help Implement Real Change. https://www.elitedaily.com/p/you-can-join-these-anti-racism-organizations-help-implement-real-change-27625834
(4) 15 ways to strengthen anti-racist practice - collective liberation. https://collectiveliberation.org/15-ways-to-strengthen-anti-racist-practice/
(5) Antifa (United States) - Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antifa_%28United_States%29