Lambers Fisher, Deran Young, Amber Flynn
Monnica Williams, researcher in mental health disparities, recently noted that if you're seeing clients of color in your therapy practice, it's safe to assume that they've experienced race-based stress and trauma.
This clip from our series of discussion panels with clinicians from a range of therapeutic specialties explores how white therapists can create a safe healing space, explicitly and implicitly, that allows clients of color to feel comfortable bringing up racial trauma.
As therapists and as human beings, now is not the time to be quiet—silence is harmful. We're experiencing a societal shift in how we talk about race and racism, and there are several things we can do right now to help in the healing process.
Lambers Fisher, LMFT, MDiv, is a therapist, supervisor, and adjunct instructor of multicultural awareness and diversity. Deran Young, LCSW, MPA, is the founder of Black Therapists Rock, an organization committed to improving the social and psychological well-being of vulnerable communities. Amber Flynn, NCC, LPCC, is a licensed clinical professional counselor specializing in race-based trauma. Zachary Taylor, MA, LPC, NCC, is the director of continuing education at Psychotherapy Networker.
As these therapists explain, white clinicians may first need to do some self-exploration about why they might be anxious about bringing up issues around race in therapy. The next step is to educate themselves about racism and trauma, how its effects live in the nervous system and impact the well-being of individuals and society as a whole.
Lambers Fisher, therapist and diversity trainer, says that a client of color may have other issues they'd like to discuss in therapy besides race, but leaving a door open for them to return to it can be therapeutic in itself. For instance, a therapist might say, "Hey, we’ve been hearing a lot of things on the news lately. I'm not sure how that’s affecting you, if at all." It's a soft introduction, he says, that avoids asking the client to be the race educator.