Anti-Racism Resources for Therapists- Part 1: Deepen Your Self-Awareness
One of my favorite clinical interventions is to query the client about what percentage they know themselves.
I work with a lot of insightful and intelligent people, and so often the number is pretty high, somewhere north of 70% (at least the first time I use this intervention).
I almost always reflect to them that I’ve done a lot of my own work in therapy as a client, as well as a therapist and that I spend a lot of time and energy outside of the therapy room trying to make sense of who I am and why I do the things I do.
“On a good day,” I remark to them, “I think I know myself about 32%. But that might be too generous.”
It’s kind of a cheesy intervention, but I like it.
It reminds me to stay humble in the room along with them, about all the things we don’t know.
All that to say, when it comes to deepening my self-awareness, what I know most is how much I don’t know.
What has worked for me (and might work for you, if you’re just starting) is to:
- invest to work with others who are further along the journey than me
- focus on humbly learning (and dismantling my defenses), and
- engage in community so I stay accountable.
I’ve shared some resources and examples below of how I’ve engaged in deepening my self-awareness and using my voice to make space for others to speak.
Deepen Self-Awareness by Investing
1. Investing in individual and group therapy.
Therapy is a critical part of my own journey, and outside of my relationship with my husband, therapy is almost always where I begin to process, reflect, and challenge myself to go deeper and take responsibility for my complicity in systemic oppression.
So many therapists struggle to let down their defenses and really surrender to being a client with a therapist who will challenge and soothe and hold them as they commit to doing the messy and rewarding work of being human. If you’re not currently in therapy, I’d challenge you to be curious with yourself about what you may be scared of or avoiding by not going to therapy.
2. Investing in your community…
…by donating locally to organizations that work to serve those who are traditionally underserved. Some of my favorites to donate to include:
3. Investing in Black-owned businesses
Voting with my dollars. One of my favorite ways to do this is to buy my books from Bookshop.org, I have it set up so that Loyalty Books–one of my favorite local bookstores–gets a cut of everything I buy.
I’m also obsessed with Intrigue Nouveau’s candles (Grapefruit is my favorite), and my favorite burger place, Mad Cow Grill, is absolutely worth the trip if you’re local to the DMV/Baltimore area (they have the BEST sweet potato fries with this magical dipping sauce).
Focus on Humbly Learning
1. Through reading
In working to further my own personal racial awareness and development, over the past year, I’ve especially enjoyed:
- I’m Still Here by Austin Channing Brown
- Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall
- The Sum of Us by Heather McGhee
2. Through weekly clinical consultation
I meet weekly with a seasoned psychotherapist who specializes in implicit bias and its clinical implications.
We regularly talk about the impact of race, gender identity, sexual orientation, and socio-economic status and how each plays out in the room, both for the client and for me.
3. Through classes, workshops, and trainings
Specifically, I engage in trainings that challenge me to get real with my blindspots and work to raise my consciousness and take action to use my privilege in ways that amplify the voices of others.
Much of the training I’ve done isn’t easily linked (or accessible to you, as much of it has been through local workshops or work I’ve done in the classroom).
However, I’ve listed some excellent resources in Part 2 of clinical trainings that are available online (several of which I plan to take post-maternity leave).
Deepen Self-Awareness by Engaging in Community, Beyond Yourself…
1. With friends and family
Engaging in hard conversations, reflecting on my own privilege, working to dismantle my defensiveness, while also speaking up directly when I notice microaggressions occur.
2. With media
I’ve begun to engage with media filled with people who don’t look like me.
I don’t watch a lot of TV, but I recently sat down and dug into Never Have I Ever (which made me sob, and also laugh hysterically).
I faithfully read all the Queen Sugar recaps.
And my latest favorite is the brilliance of Trevor Noah (I’ve watched his Netflix specials like three times each in the past month, and I have his Born a Crime as my next Audible listen–I’m saving doing a deep dive on Daily Show for late-night baby feedings).
Deepening Your Self-Awareness: A Note
The work is never done. There is no gold star or certificate for “a job well done.”
And sometimes the process of self-awareness and discovery, when it isn’t met with kudos or praise, can derail our plans of continuous work.
If I may, I encourage you to keep doing this work.
When it gets hard.
When it gets long.
Because these benefits of self-awareness are not for “the self.”
It is for the collective.
Additional anti-racism posts in this series:
- An Open Letter: Anti-Racism Resources for Therapists
- Part 2: Investing in Your Clinical Insight
- Part 3: Integrating Your Values Within Your Business
And if there are any resources you’d like to suggest, please email them to jenn (at) athinkersguide (dot) com.