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  • Writer's picturejoannadoane

Supporting Each Other Through Civil Unrest

As a therapist I've been discouraged since college against self-disclosure in terms of talking to my client's about my own traumas, religious beliefs, political affiliations, etc. Making a habit of doing so has historically been a slippery slope. After all, what has helped one therapist may not help that therapist's clients. A therapist talking about themselves in session may easily draw attention away from the true focus: the client.

However, we've come to a point in the United States - through weeks of civil unrest - where self-disclosure by therapists may be needed in some situations for the sake of creating a safe therapeutic environment. Imagine, for instance, an individual who attends their first therapy session after being victimized by police brutality during a protest. Imagine this individual finds themselves, unknowingly, in a room with a therapist who agrees that protesters "get what they deserve".

It makes sense then that some therapists have begun initial sessions, depending on why their client is there, by disclosing their political views in order to create an environment of safety and empathy. More and more, my clients are sharing their frustrations about their neighbors and family members who don't support their attending local protests, or sharing certain views on their social media. In a world where we're already feeling isolated by a national pandemic, this backlash just adds to isolation. What else can I do but commend my clients for protesting despite the risk, for online efforts to fight bias despite online trolls, and for their courage to speak out against family and friends who they otherwise love? In doing so, I am on some level self-disclosing my own views.

So, for colleagues and non-clients, I can't provide you all with similar one-on-one empathy, outside of commending your own efforts, and saying that I hear you. Keep fighting the good fight. Keep supporting each other. Depending on your situation, perhaps the following resources may be of help.

For Those Who Are Hurting:

Colorlines: 4 Self-Care Resources for Days When the World is Terrible My Grandmother's Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies

For Those Wanting to Help:

Psychology Today Resource List: How We Can Fight Bias

Healing Resources for BIPOC Organizers & Allies Taking Action for Black Lives

For Parents:

Helping Kids Process Violence, Trauma, and Race in a World of Nonstop News

For Therapists: Understanding Racism, Prejudice, and Microaggressions: A Clinician's Perspective (CE Course)

Stop Hesitating: A Resource for Psychotherapists and Counselors

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