Social justice and multicultural competence are key values of counseling psychology. This year our country witnessed several prominent incidents reminding us of the work that remains to be done to create a society in which all humans are equally prized.
In May, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man was choked to death while in police custody following his arrest on suspicion of forgery.
Simultaneously, the COVID19 pandemic has raged unchecked through the country, with people of color and disadvantaged socioeconomic status being overly represented in infections and deaths.
As a faculty and staff, we are diverse along many dimensions, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, privilege, gender, sexual orientation, political perspectives, and age. We are, however, united in our condemnation of oppression and our commitment to work toward equity. We acknowledge the pain of individuals and communities who are suffering. We understand the need for ongoing self-reflection so that we can continue to open our hearts and minds to needed change. We recognize this as a necessary step toward helping others create change in their own lives.
In our profession’s clinical work, we will be called to provide treatment to people from all backgrounds and with widely divergent presenting concerns. Providing competent, ethical, and effective assessment and treatment will require that we check our own assumptions and unconscious biases, to listen intentionally, and to understand perspectives that may or may not differ from our own. We will encounter victims as well as perpetrators of violence. We will be called to help first responders and police officers, and family members of those who may have been mistreated by members of the same.
These incidents are tragic and disheartening, and yet they also serve to remind us of the importance of our work as mental health professionals in a position to enact positive change at the individual, community, and societal levels. Our program’s faculty and students co-created the Antiracism Collective (ARC), the purpose of which is to envision and take action steps to engage in antiracism work at a personal level. Students have created an allyship group dedicated to exploring and dismantling White privilege. We have created space for BIPOC and non-Black POC to share their experiences as students in a predominantly White institution (PWI). Our shared aims are to walk this journey with company.
Finally, we encourage self-care so that we can provide comfort and guidance to those entrusted with our care.