Internalized Racism Saved My Life: Therapeutic Conversations About Race
We live in a racist society, and the Black community continues to experience the intergenerational effects of this trauma long after slavery ended. The effects of these collective and individual experiences of trauma have taken a toll, and this is especially true for Black women who have been silenced and struggle to find paths to healing that address the range of their cultural and individual experiences. The question is how do we, as white therapists, help and not hurt those who seek our help? This is about more than cultural competence, it’s about the ability to connect, recognize our own limitations, and lean into the uncomfortable spaces. Aside from our own feelings of being ill-equipped, most therapeutic interventions that address trauma are for things that have happened in the past. We believe to work with survivors of a trauma that is ongoing, we need to change the lens through which we work with our clients. We believe that a non-pathologizing approach helps Black women explore the meaning connected to both past and current traumatic experiences. We help our clients to understand that current symptoms such as depression, suicidality, and self harm are solutions to the problem of how to make sense of and respond to trauma within a culture that minimizes and denies racism is traumatic. We help our clients connect the dots between the past and the present, between their feelings and behaviors, which helps them to understand why they do what they do. We then help to explore the rules that have helped them to survive, that are still in play today, and only then do we offer strategies for change. As therapists we have to be curious, willing to be uncomfortable, and ready to understand the world from a perspective that is very different than our own.
This session was originally presented as a live conference session in April 2021.
At the conclusion of this session participants will be able to:
- Describe the relational nature of racial trauma and identify three ways in which racial trauma can present in the therapeutic relationship
- Identify three ways that racism is an ongoing trauma, not just something in the past, that requires an adjustment in the way that we work therapeutically, processing traumatizing material
- Identify three ways to re-formulate their current therapeutic interventions to work more effectively with Black women exploring issues of race, gender, and intergenerational trauma
Presenter: Simone Jacobs, LCSW-C
Presenter Bio: Simone Jacobs is a graduate of Kings College, London University and Smith College School of Social Work. Since obtaining her MSW over 10 years ago, she has focused her training and experience on working with survivors of trauma. She first became interested in working with trauma when she interned at The Center: Posttraumatic Disorders Program. She now runs a group practice, in Takoma Park, MD with a focus on working with survivors of trauma and women of color. She is also the co-author of "Understanding the Paradox of Surviving Childhood Trauma."
Presenter: Cornelia Tietke, MSW
Presenter Bio: Cornelia Tietke, LICSW, is a psychotherapist in private practice in Washington, DC. She specializes in the treatment of complex trauma in adults and also in the treatment of travel anxiety. For ten years, she worked as a psychotherapist and social worker in the inpatient unit of the Center for Post-Traumatic Disorders program at the Psychiatric Institute of Washington. She also serves as a board member of the Institute of Contemporary Psychotherapy + Psychoanalysis.
Presenter: Joanne Zucchetto, MSW
Presenter Bio: Joanne is a graduate of Hunter College in New York, and University of Maryland’s School of Social Work. She has been a trauma therapist for over 20 years, working in two of the most established trauma treatment programs in the country, at Shepard Pratt and here at The Center: Posttraumatic Disorders Program. She is currently running a busy private practice in Friendship Heights, and is the co-author of a new book, “Understanding the Paradox of Surviving Childhood Trauma”
Presenter: Ly Vick Johnson, MSW
Presenter Bio: Ly Vick Johnson is a writer in the Washington, DC area. She is co-author of the book "Understanding the Paradox of Surviving Childhood Trauma," published by Routledge in 2020. Ly previously worked in the trauma treatment program at the Psychiatric Institute of Washington.
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- 1.50 ISSTD Certificate ProgramThis program is eligible for 1.50 credits in the ISSTD Certificate Program.
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