Asking Clients About Racial Stress and Trauma

How to Broach the Topic Appropriately

Gail Parker, Monnica Williams, S. Kent Butler, Zachary Taylor

“If you have Black clients, you can assume they have stress or trauma around their experience of race,” explains Monnica Williams, associate professor at the University of Ottawa. For white therapists, then, it’s important to broach the topic appropriately.

That asking about race-based trauma requires such a delicate approach says S. Kent Butler, president-elect of the American Counseling Association, is testament to the fact that, regrettably, conversations about race are considered taboo. “Let’s have that difficult dialogue,” he says. "If we don’t deal with our own understanding of what that is, we can’t find our way to asking those types of questions.”


S. Kent Butler, PhD, is president-elect of the American Counseling Association and the interim chief of equity, inclusion, and diversity officer at University of Central Florida. Gail Parker, PhD, is clinical psychologist, president of the Black Yoga Teachers Alliance, and the author of Restorative Yoga for Ethnic and Race-Based Stress and TraumaMonnica Williams, PhD, is associate professor at the University of Ottawa, the Canada research chair for mental health disparities, and the coauthor of Eliminating Race-Based Mental Health Disparities. Zachary Taylor, MA, LPC, NCC, is director of CE at the Networker.

Read more from this panel in our September/October 2020 issue, here.

Topic: Anxiety/Depression | Cultural, Social & Racial Issues | Trauma

Tags: Cultural, Social & Racial Issues | race | race in therapy | race relations | Racial discrimination | racial issues | Racism | Trauma

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1 Comment

Monday, November 2, 2020 5:59:44 PM | posted by Penny Thome
I read the article in the magazine, but it was so much better to see and hear the panelists. I am encouraged, because my PoC clients DO bring up racial trauma. I guess my issue is that I often feel so helpless to make any real difference in their lives around that issue. We're up against culture, and systems are so hard to change.