Decolonizing Therapy: Why an Apolitical Mental Health System Doesn’t Work

In many cases, traditional forms of therapy feed into ideas of neoliberalism that disregard the context in which communities of color face racism and systemic discrimination.

For instance, people of color often face discrimination in hiring. They may be passed over for jobs even if they have all the qualifications.

But a CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy) approach would say you are only responsible for your reaction to job rejections. It might ask you to consider other factors why employers selected other candidates, and take into account that hiring decisions are about specific requirements for a job and not personally about your skills, work experience and qualifications.

While that approach can be highly effective for some people, it still fails to consider systemic discrimination and racial biases.

“In many ways, it is almost like being in a domestic violence relationship because (Black and brown-identifying people) know that they need therapy and counselors,” said Jennifer Mullan, a clinical psychologist based in New Jersey.

Black and brown folks can’t just think their way out of racism. To believe so is Eurocentric.

“Decolonizing therapy involves looking at how the mental health industrial complex continues to inflict a lot of harm on people because it chooses to remain apolitical,” she said.

“A part of this work of decolonizing therapy is about undoing the narrative that just talking about your feelings is enough.” More here.

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