Category Archives: Psychology

Talking about racism in therapy

The course I hated most in grad school was taught by a professor who said, “If your clients talk about the outside circumstances that keep them down and make their lives horrible, about how they’re so hard done by, they can’t ever take responsibility for their own lives.”  It was supposed to be a course on marriage and family therapy, which is a topic I love a lot on its own; but most of what I learned was about the use of institutional power, from a rich moderate liberal white guy who thought that talking about inequality of any kind was actively harmful to therapy.

I try to remember him even now because he was respected in his field and by his colleagues.  He’d run programs in schools and military bases, taught therapists-to-be, received all the marks of approval from his profession, and thought that if a therapist let their client talk about experiencing racism or sexism, they were sabotaging the therapy.  I try to remember him because I have to remember that when I meet a new client, that client has no outside indicators that I’m not exactly like him. Continue reading Talking about racism in therapy

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Guest post: The woman who heard God

And I’m back to the blog after another hiatus. Real life can stop sucking at any time now. Back, with the second guest post from med school! This is the story I asked ladystardust19 if I could repost in the first place, because I think it’s a beautiful example of cultural competency in mental health practice.

A lot of people assume these days that if they hear someone is “Christian”, they know what that entails. That they have a reasonable idea of what practices the religion involves. However, Christianity is not a single monolithic religion—I know I’m blaspheming against ecumenism here, but I’m not sure if I’d call it a single religion at all anymore, so much as a spectrum of many religions with a shared set of core texts, from a practical standpoint if not a theological one.  Christianity is so diverse these days that two Christians who have both been immersed in their faith for decades can meet and scarcely recognize each other’s lived experiences. If you want to be culturally competent where religion comes, you cannot assume that “Christian” is the free square on your bingo card. You have to your research.

There’s a lot more I could say about why it’s important for us to be culturally competent around Christianity—whether about the domination of social services in many areas by Christian groups, Christian thought’s effects on psychological theories and practices, or Christianity’s messy struggle to combine religion and childrearing, and its aftermath. At some point, I probably will. But today, let’s go on to the story. Continue reading Guest post: The woman who heard God

Guest post: Killing Stalin

Since my last post, I have been absolutely snowed under with work; last week, I pulled double the number of usual full-time shifts at my job. My free time has largely been devoted to cuddling the crap out of the new cat I adopted from a shelter in July, and neglecting this blog. Good for me! Bad for you!

In light of this, I’ve solicited some guest content from a friend of mine. If you’ve been reading the comments, you may have seen ladystardust19 chime in with tales from her own work. She and I met in the nerdy teenage girl regions of the internet lo these many years ago; now she attends medical school in the US with an eye to rural general practice when she graduates. This is the first of two guest posts she’s written for the Book of Jubilation. Continue reading Guest post: Killing Stalin

Anatomy of a Scar

So a while back I mentioned offhand that, due to my occasional tendency to blurt things out thoughtlessly, I self-sequester from Nice Guys™.  (If you’re like, “Why does this chick hate decent men?” go read that link.  I don’t.  I’m referring to a specific social phenomenon.)  This is not because I dislike and despise Nice Guys™.  It’s actually based out of empathy and compassion because I don’t know how to keep from hurting them right now.  I see a guy self-loathingly talk about how girls never choose him even after all he does for them, and I’m like, “Me = Bull.  You = China shop.  Me = LEAVING before I break you.”

It’s because I used to be one.  (As a girl.  A Nice Girl™.  Gender socialization makes Nice Guydom different than Nice Girldom in many ways, but they both share a common emotional core.  For the purposes of this post I’m reviving the archaic custom of having the masculine pronoun encompass both male and female perspectives of Niceness, unless a specific example is female.) As a Nice Girl, I trailed in the wake of the people I liked.  I gave gifts, attention, and energy, desperately hoping they would love me back.  I never said a word until far too late.  And then when I was turned down, I was devastated.

I used to be one, but then I dedicated myself to years of beating back the darkness in my soul.  Over the course of this quest I have learned secrets of Nice Guyism that no Nice Guy can hear without pain  They are a very potent medicine; they can cure, but it is not a kind cure or an easy one.  They stripped me down to my very darkest place and left me there for a long time.

Continue reading Anatomy of a Scar