During 2020-21, the Board moved forward with energy and intention to promote clinical networking, education, connection, protection and advocacy. I am especially proud of how we expanded our vision to become a more inclusive and diverse Society, one that is in alignment with anti-racism values.
Toward that end, GWSCSW took several new actions: Our Anti-Racism Taskforce (ART) helped the Board further anti-racism goals and facilitated two “Brave Space” workshops, one for members and one for the Executive Committee. These Brave Space experiences allow members to share honest, respectful and sensitive thoughts and feelings about race and other social issues. More of these Brave Space workshops will be offered to members in 2022.
In September, GWSCSW also hosted Dr. Kenneth Hardy, noted speaker and author, to present a 3-hour Zoom workshop: Tips and Tactics for Talking About Race: A Toolkit for Clinicians. In this workshop, Dr. Hardy demonstrated a model for talking about race within a clinical setting, including how to listen deeply, stay relational, be caring and when needed, directly challenge bias.
In the way that the best therapists make the theoretical tangible, within the first fifteen minutes Dr. Hardy created a dynamic conversation with attendees about race. As people virtually raised their hands to ask him questions, difficult topics were voiced and argued, topics that could easily surface in our offices and cause a therapist anxiety: What to do when someone insists that systemic racism is false? How to respond to the use of hurtful, invective language? When should we intervene to address implicit or explicit racial bias? Dr. Hardy didn’t just tell us what to do, he showed us. He dealt with these issues and others using a process that was relational, respectful and yes, sometimes confrontational. He was inspiring in his willingness to stay present and mindful, even in the face of conflict.
Dependent upon the ongoing interactions, there were moments that the conversations about race felt grating, frustrating and even painful to me. From the evaluations we received, I recognized that I was not alone; others valued the teaching but had strong emotions and reactions, too. As our Vice President, Karla Abney, said when she and I debriefed the workshop: “Maybe everyone, black and white, has to be uncomfortable for these conversations about race to take place.”
I deeply appreciate Dr. Hardy’s courage to show, not tell. I recommend that in the future, we add in more time after workshops for attendees to share and debrief our experience together. It helps. I also hope we become increasingly sensitive about what we say, how we say it, and the effect it may have on others even as we are learning how to talk about race. I welcome your thoughts on this.
In closing, please consider taking an active role in the Society this coming year. We welcome all to participate in the running of our Society, by joining committees, attending programs and taking on leadership roles. Thank you for being a member. Happy Holidays to all.
Lynn Grodzki, LCSW-C
PO Box 711 | Garrisonville, VA 22463 | 202-478-7638 | firstname.lastname@example.org