Racial Trauma, Inequity, and Change: Reflections on the Role of Therapy

Jun 12, 2020 | Homepage

As we have reflected on the events of the last two weeks we wanted to share our thoughts with you. We (at Emerge) are committed to ongoing learning, growth, and change both individually and as a community, and look forward to continuing to share our process with you.
We are deeply saddened and horrified by the murder of George Floyd while in police restraint. He was a person and his life mattered, and this is true for the numerous black Americans who have died in this way. We acknowledge the grief and trauma felt not only by George’s family in this moment, but also by so many families impacted by these tragic losses. We also acknowledge the loss to our communities and nation with the absence of these lives.
Psychoanalytic therapy has historically valued neutrality on the part of the therapist, with the aim to help patients have the safety to express any thought or feeling, especially those that feel conflictual or shameful. This can foster deep change as people come to terms with who they really are and how they really feel. However, while we have historical roots in a kind neutrality, we must recognize that Psychoanalysis is an institution that has participated in overt and subtle oppressive injustices, particularly as relates to LGBTQIA issues, class, gender, and race.
These injustices have affected decades of mental health policy, including harmful diagnoses and treatment (or lack of treatment). For these reasons, we acknowledge that creating an atmosphere where a patient is safe to be themselves without judgment is NOT equivalent to remaining neutral on systemic injustice that perpetuates trauma in our black and brown communities. At Emerge, we commit to continuing to be a place where all thoughts and feelings can be expressed and understood, while at the same time recognizing that institutions have voices and silence makes us either indifferent or complicit by our denial. These things are completely antithetical to the aims of good therapy.
Our therapists are ready to listen to your experience. We are here to help you explore the thoughts and feelings that you are not yet conscious of or that are difficult to acknowledge. We are also here to listen to experiences of racial trauma, with the hope of finding greater understanding and restoration.
Our community is hurting right now. If you’re looking for ways to get help and heal, please reach out. If you’re looking for ways to help others, here are some resources:

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