There is a problem in the counseling and psychology world, and that problem is injustice. It is not enough for mental health professionals to merely witness the suffering of others. We must move toward action and to resist the desire to be neutral. We can no longer ignore the social realities our clients face.
This is not how most of us are trained. We are taught to be a blank slate, and to leave our personal perspectives out of the counseling room. We are taught that we can help a client by helping them to manage their symptoms. But…
How do we help a client who is suffering due to the systems in our world? Teaching a client to adapt to oppressive systems is of no service to the client. Our clients need a more radical approach. We can’t treat clients independent of the systems they are in–we need to address the systems, examine the barriers our clients experience and acknowledge the very real impact those systems have.We need social justice & liberation psychologies and we need them now.
What does a social justice and liberation approach to counseling/psychology look like?
Traditional psychology & counseling focuses on the individual and often ignores the collective. The traditional therapist isn’t looking at the role that racism, poverty, sexism, xenophobia and all of the other -sims play into their clients wellness. In fact, there are therapists whose lack of awareness of these issues have caused FURTHER harm for clients who hold oppressed identities.
While a stated value of psychology/counseling is developing multicultural competence, we need to go beyond that. Social Justice is seen as the 5th force in psychology, but there is a gap between the professed values & the actual practice. The reality is:
It is time for a revolution in counseling and psychology–one centered on justice, critical consciousness and socially responsive approaches that serve our most vulnerable community members. That’s where I come in.
With my extensive experience teaching and training in anti-oppressive practices, I am here to help individual therapists, organizations and universities dismantle the old systems & create new, generative systems that are justice oriented. If you’re like many of the therapists out there who have realized how daunting this task is and feel overwhelmed by the enormity of unpacking your own bias, and creating a new, critical consciousness, please know that I see your pain. I know the frustration and shame that comes with unlearning. I celebrate your willingness to look for support and help in this process.
Dr. V Can Help
Whether you are a private practitioner, university leader or manage an organization, Dr. V can help you make your spaces anti-oppressive, justice oriented and force of liberation.