Decolonizing Mental Health

Decolonizing Mental Health

The Healing Power of Community

By Shawna Murray-Browne

November/December 2021

Since the uprising following George Floyd’s murder and then COVID’s devastation of communities of color, the therapy world has undergone a shift: practitioners are more eager to do the once fringe work of decolonizing mental health for Black clients to provide treatment that truly heals them. I know this because I offer a training on this topic, and it’s exploded in popularity. But as exciting as it is—and believe me, I’m thrilled that we might finally be putting truly liberatory therapy to use on a large scale—our trainees are discovering that the real job in front of them is not for the faint of heart.

True liberatory therapy training leaps headfirst into the history of systemic oppression in the United States and how the harms endured by people of African descent remain unaddressed—even at times maintained—by our profession, which was established and is still overseen by white folks. We dig into how the therapy world continues to favor working with individuals apart from their community and the many ways this inhibits the healing of Black folks, who rely on community as a main source of support in a world that’s long been hostile to them.

But training must go beyond the intellectual exercise of just grasping these concepts. Instead, the real work of these practitioners—getting out of their chairs and going…

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