Oppression Is Not “Culture”: The Need to Center Systemic and Structural Determinants to Address Anti-Black Racism and Racial Trauma in Psychotherapy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

Psychology, and the United States more broadly, finds itself at yet another reckoning point with White supremacy and anti-Black racism. The American Psychological Association has even recently apologized for psychology’s role in upholding systemic racism and White supremacy, and articulated expectations for psychology’s role in dismantling systemic racism and White supremacy throughout psychology. Yet, the norms of White supremacy pervade our professional and individual consciousness, resulting in our radical movements toward a “culturally responsive psychotherapy” seeking to adapt to, and ultimately becoming quashed by, the very oppressive systems it seeks to upend. In this article, I argue first that to address anti-Black racism and racial trauma in psychotherapy, it is imperative to move beyond notions of “culture” and “identity” to a structural competency model of psychotherapy and psychotherapy training. Structural competency and examples of its integration are briefly discussed. I then offer and expand upon two additional recommendations: That we must learn about and incorporate the incredible work of Black, Indigenous, and people of color scholars who have offered robust guidance in how to engage in healing racial trauma in individual and family psychotherapy; and, that to ethically engage in and develop an antiracist psychotherapy equipped to heal racial trauma, we must individually and collectively engage in our own conscientization and radical racial healing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)76-85
Number of pages10
JournalPsychotherapy
Volume60
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 16 2022

Keywords

  • anti-Black racism
  • multicultural counseling
  • multicultural psychotherapy
  • racial trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology

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