Clinical Intersections: Disavowal and the Politics of Naming Whiteness

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Naming privilege with clients

Hello, I’m Sarah Tso, an LCSW from Tallahassee, FL and I have had experience moderating anti-oppression workshops. I agree with you that we must be careful as clinicians in how we are naming our privilege, though I really appreciate that you are being thoughtful about it. I believe naming privilege can be incredibly healing with clients, but we must examine in the moment our motivations for doing so. I also think that as clinicians we could do so much more to work with our clients who experience oppression. Here are some ways I would suggest that we incorporate anti-racism into our work.
We, as therapists must communicate in multiple ways that we are open to discussing racism and demonstrate our competence with it. I say that because people of color or anyone from a marginalized group may assume that you are not open to the discussion or competent as most clinicians may not be. That means that we have to educate ourselves in multiple ways that helps us to understand how systemic oppression may be affecting the client as an individual. We must work on our own biases and insecurities to help ensure they do not show up in the room with the client, but also know how to handle it when it does. I suggest reading more about the experiences of people of color and participating in anti-racism workshops and trainings. Anti-racism really requires that we learn to work with our own stuff and be comfortable owning what may show up in the room. We must be comfortable asking for feedback and receiving it at appropriate times. Further, we need to be able to understand why and how systemic oppression can affect and complicate emotional issues and how a therapist can help a client deal with the trauma of oppression. I have written an article about this if you have interest in reading it, https://commonvioletcare.org/healing-the-trauma-of-oppression/. I am considering expanding on these ideas to write an article for therapists specifically. I appreciate you bringing up this subject and look forward to further content.

Sarah Tso 152 days ago