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Anti-Racism & Therapy Statement

Updated: Apr 9, 2021

Due to recent events, its abundantly clear there is a deeper & existing need to speak directly to injustices happening around us that have happened for centuries. The Counseling profession, as with most medical professions, has it's own history of white supremacy & patriarchy. Writing this is only a small part of all the things happening and that will need to happen in order to re-make our society to be safe and healthy for all of our community members. As a mental health professional, I have grappled with the specific issues in this field, and truthfully whether I wanted to remain a licensed counselor. (Acknowledging my privilege in that too - since I am an Art Therapist and a Transformational Coach & that affords me some choice.) It took about three weeks for the American Counseling Association to make a statement aligning with Black Lives Matter. This in itself is a concern to me. It, however, doesn't relinquish the responsibility for me to speak, as a person seen as an "expert" in this field, & as a person of white privilege that treats and cares for people of all races, identities, and walks of life. In June, after George Floyd's death and protests began I watched and waited for our national associations to speak out, or give guidance, to initiate the changes required to our profession. I reached out to my local board of behavioral health to address how to move forward with anti-racism work IN the therapy room. I had hard conversations with all of my clients at various points. I began to deepen my own exploration and growth in anti-racism efforts, both through reading/learning, community efforts, and my own processing of internalized racism. I've also taken up Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion coaching (shout out to Pause on the Play - for providing this support.) I will continue to seek out training, both professionally and personally to do better & I acknowledge the racism healing journey is an on-going one without a destination. It's not enough, and it's quite late, especially for someone trained by a graduate school founded on "Social Justice & the Environment." For my clients & future clients please know you are welcome & encouraged to give me feedback. I hope you find my continued growth, non-judgmental stance and person-centered approaches to meet your needs. I know I will make mistakes on this journey. For my fellow Clinicians, let's get off the couch & remake the field now. It so desperately needs it. With Love, Witnessing & an Activist's Heart,

- Joy (See below for references, resources and the statements from ATCB & ACA.)

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

American Counseling Association Anti-Racism Statement -

Jun 22, 2020

After discussion and discernment, the ACA Governing Council has issued the following statement on Anti-racism. The ACA leadership is listening to a cross-section of members and volunteers in order to develop an action plan that will give life to this statement.

Racism, police brutality, systemic violence, and the dehumanizing forces of oppression, powerlessness, and White supremacy have eroded the very fabric of humanity which ideally binds our society together. Macrolevel systemic racism extends to disparities in institutional policies and procedures in physical and mental healthcare, education, the judicial system, employment, sports and entertainment, and the brutal violence of law enforcement. These larger societal oppressions lead to inaccessibility to resources and social marginalization, which descend finally to individual racist attitudes, implicit biases, stereotypes, microaggressions, and even death. The ongoing and historical injustices are not acknowledged by those who want to be in power or protect their entitlements. Some who do acknowledge, do so reactively, temporarily, or superficially and thus, no meaningful change occurs. Anti-Black racism is often reframed as accidental, an unfortunate incident, or as the criminality of the victim.  Words cannot truly capture our feelings. We are angry, exhausted, grieving, suffering, furious, and in despair. The American Counseling Association is pained by the murders of George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, and countless other Black/African Americans who unfortunately remain nameless. We stand in solidarity with our Black siblings in denouncing the historical legacy and destruction caused by institutionalized racism and violence against Black people, perpetuated at the hands of law enforcement, the hatred bred of White supremacy, the deafening silence of dehumanizing and complicit inaction to address these systemic ills within our society. As counselors, we listen, we empathize, and agree with protesters that when absolute justice is established, peace will follow. Enough is enough, we cannot continue to watch fellow Black Americans being murdered, as the very life force is suffocated out of them. The American Counseling Association is built on enduring values and a mission that promotes: human dignity and diversity, respect, the attainment of a quality of life for all, empowerment, integrity, social justice advocacy, equity, and inclusion. If we remain silent, and do not promote racial justice, these words become harmful and meaningless for our members and the counseling community. Given the rapidly evolving double pandemic of COVID-19 and the continued exposure of Black people to institutionalized racism, ACA wants to be clear about where we stand and the ongoing actions we will take. As proactive leaders, counselors, mentors, supervisors, scholars, and trainers we will break away from this structure of racism trauma, and the violence born on the necks of Black people.  Our stance is: Black Lives Matter. We have a moral and professional obligation to deconstruct institutions which have historically been designed to benefit White America. These systems must be dismantled in order to level the playing field for Black communities. Allyship is not enough. We strive to create liberated spaces in the fight against White supremacy and the dehumanization of Black people. The burden of transgenerational trauma should not be shouldered by Black Americans even though they have remained resilient.  All ACA members must be willing to challenge these systems, but also confront one’s own biases, stereotypes, and racial worldview. Moving forward, our actions will be based on input from our members and the voices of others. We are committed to change. 

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash Photo by Simone Fischer on Unsplash

Statement from the Art Therapy Credentials Board -

"An open letter to our ATCB community: June 7, 2020

The senseless murder of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, has stirred many emotions ranging from anger, to sadness, disbelief, outrage to disappointment, indignation and so much more. Once again we grieve for the victims and their families, including, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, and many, many others harmed and killed due to the color of their skin. The images across our nation show cities in turmoil and we are traumatized over and over again as we watch the news, as we hear the protesters, as we read of another life lost from harsh and dehumanizing treatment. Despite the efforts of the civil rights movement, systemic inequalities persist for the Black community. The pain of racism and oppression sucks the breath out of all that gives life. These persistent inequities are toxic to all of us, and are most acute for those personally affected.

As credentialed art therapists our beliefs are consistent with humanity and equity. We know many art therapist are working in communities and with populations impacted by significant health and mental health disparities. Our ethics state that we do not discriminate; that we advance the welfare of all clients, respect the rights of those seeking our assistance, and make reasonable efforts to provide service.

We must continue to respond to clients who are experiencing traumatic circumstances, are impacted by racism and oppression, especially People of Color who live daily with trauma. We must do our best to provide a safe space for listening, breathing, being present, and healing through the creative process. We must continue to advocate for our clients. We must also take care of ourselves so that we have the strength and fortitude to be there for our clients. Please see the links below for a few resources to add to your list.

We must each do our part to effect positive change for those who are marginalized and those who are victims of systemic injustice, particularly in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic which is spotlighting the devastating health disparities, including the ongoing mental health crisis in the nation. It’s up to each of us to continue our important work within our communities and our workplaces, be brave in speaking up for justice, and meaningfully addressing the inequalities in our society.

Mahatma Gandhi said, “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” Let us exemplify those words through continuing dialogue, sharing of resources and ideas, and taking every opportunity to make positive change.

Respectfully yours,

ATCB Board of Directors"

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