Healing is Personal, Relational, and Societal
I strive to be intentional about discussing race, gender, class, culture, and sexuality with clients as I believe the therapeutic space is an environment to discuss how personal and societal elements impact our well-being and ability to thrive.
As a white therapist, I chose to help white clients lean into the discomfort of (guilt, shame, outrage, grief) that arises with exploring racism and our complicity in it. I am pleased this is occurring more and more in my practice, for we cannot change what we are not willing to acknowledge.
For clients who identify differently from me, I want to listen to understand what it is like for them to walk in this world, not how I assume it might be. Stories of discrimination cause me outrage and heartbreak, but I wish to know them. Not only does pain deserve to be validated, but hearing first-hand accounts of another’s reality means that I am taking an active role towards justice and equality. I chose to be anti-racist, rather than non-racist (see here for more on that distinction: https://www.facebook.com/bbcfour/videos/306725233780039/UzpfSTQ1OTY1NjEwNzcwMjY3MDoxMjMxMjQ2NjUzODc2OTQx/)
I feel honoured to play witness and deeply listen to someone’s lived experience. I choose to always be learning around this stuff so that I can do better. I am very aware that I make mistakes as I go. I encourage clients that if I get something wrong (and I expect I will), to please tell me – I am open to learning and taking accountability when I misstep. I cannot profess to *know* what it is like to walk in your shoes, but I am willing to lean into the discomfort and listen to understand. This is how we undo aloneness and connect with our shared humanity….and this is why I love my job.
For anyone wanting to explore the bias they possess (we all have ‘em), I suggest The Harvard Implicit Bias (IAT) https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/.
To foster a better understanding of the difference between racism and white fragility (white fragility isn’t racist, per se, but it can contribute to racism), see here: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/white-fragility-definition