Exclusion and marginalization (racism, homophobia, heterosexism, able-ism, etc) are very real problems in this country and in our communities. It is ugly, hateful, and ruinous when it is out in the open. And it is insidious and equally destructive when it remains hidden and ignored. We still live in a time and place where people can be harassed, denied, oppressed, and even murdered because of their skin color, religion, sexuality, or gender. These are facts. This systemic oppression must change. I'm committed to doing a better job of recognizing, naming, and challenging marginalization and oppression when I find it in others and myself. I'm also committed to helping all my clients sort through and cope well with the inevitable questions and stressors of this needed social change. Below are ways in which I'm working on this.
Oppression is a safety issue. In addition to suffering outright attacks, the oppressed in our society are subjected to chronic distress and denied equitable access to healthcare and other necessary resources in disproportionate numbers. I am working to change this through my protest, my donation funding and volunteer hours, and my commitment to make a portion of my therapy hours available for those who don't have insurance and/or cannot afford my standard fees.
Oppression is structural. We live in a system that makes it seem normal to take from, deny, and disadvantage some in order to make sure others get to have more. Our national system and economy was built and made prosperous on the back of this inequality, and this hierarchy continues to favor the dominant members. I am working to change this by committing to working with more vendors who are people of color. I am also committed to reviewing how often I refer clients to colleagues of color compared with referrals to white colleagues, and to help create more professional opportunities for colleagues of color.
Oppression is subtle. It took me a long time to recognize the ways I avoided these issues, and to not recognize the privileges of being able to live my life without having to think hard about how oppression feels for others. I am committed to continually engaging in learning and reflection, being authentic and not performative, and talking through whatever differences might come up. I'm committed to doing a better job as a therapist by helping all my clients verbalize and cope with these stressors, and to be vigilant about the subtle ways I might be engaging in thoughtless, distancing, or avoidant behavior with marginalized clients. In particular, I find this professional guidance really helpful.