How has systemic racism impacted your clinical practice? How do you measure up as an anti-racist clinician? How often do you consider the effect of systemic racism on the issues bringing your clients to therapy?
Foundational to therapy is emotional intimacy. As clinical social workers, we are often quite skilled at navigating emotional intimacy around a range of topics that we see as micro influences on a client’s life, such as abuse, grief, and trauma. However, is it possible to foster emotional intimacy with a client without also reckoning with the macro forces that influence their lives? And ours?
Racism is but one important force that has shaped all of our lives, whether we realize it or not. Thus, in order to cultivate emotional intimacy with our clients, we must, as clinicians, first be willing to engage with the insidious nature of racism and sit with a great deal of discomfort. We must be willing to enter a brave space within ourselves before we can foster one with our clients.
Why brave space and not safe space? Well, safety means free of risk, harm, and controversy.
And yet, when we decide to engage with truths that challenge what we have been taught to believe about ourselves, others, and the world, it is impossible not to feel emotionally vulnerable, and it is inevitable that we will make mistakes. Instead of waiting to feel safe, we must normalize our fear and choose to be brave: afraid but doing it anyway.
When it comes to racism, whether we are white or a person of color, there is so much pain to be dealt with. Our choice, and the hard work, come in how to deal with the pain --whether or not we want to get involved in order to grow.
Members seeking a brave space within which to grow their understanding of how systemic racism comes up in the therapy room are encouraged to join us for a virtual conversation via Zoom. If interested, please email us at email@example.com
PO Box 711 | Garrisonville, VA 22463 | 202-478-7638 | firstname.lastname@example.org