Racism and Self-Image

April 13th, 2011

What happens when you grow up in a society saying you’re less-than for being black?  Or that you must be meek if culturally competent therapistyour Asian?  Most likely, you reject these sterotypes and be yourself.  There are many prejudiced stereotypes you know aren’t true for you.  However, from what I know from my work with People of Color, these harmful messages can sometimes linger, distorting the way you think about yourself.

If you are dealing with depression, anxiety, or trauma, it might be important to examine if such negative thoughts are in the mix. If so, it can be helpful to be honest with yourself.  You can then seperate fact from fiction, understanding how any harmful thoughts regarding your race or ethnicity affect you.  They might not be the main issue, but clients often tell me that these messages from the dominant culture can complicate matters.

Talking about such issues is not easy.  You have got to feel safe.  You’ve got to trust that the person you’re talking to, no matter their race or ethnicity, is not judging or blaming you.  I suggest you ask any potential therapist – especially a white therapist – up front, what work they’ve done to address any racist attitudes.  If they’re comfortable talking about this, then that person might be a good fit for you.

If you’re looking for a culturally competent therapist, call me at 202/460-6384 or email me at Mike.Giordano.MSW@gmail.com.

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