Therapy for Racial Identity
You felt curious about therapy for a moment, and then a part of you said, "You don't need it; asking for help would mean that you're weak. You're supposed to be able to handle things on your own; be strong".
You were taught that you had to walk around in the world with tough skin just to survive.
And then, there you were - out and about in the world - walking around in survival mode with that tough skin that you were made to wear everywhere and everyday.
Meanwhile, white supremacy, anti-blackness, and native invisibility all determined that you were bad, inferior, a threat, or that you did not matter because of the skin you were in. There you were, racially traumatized.
Therapy? "Yeah, right", said the part of you who was negatively influenced by multicultural stigma of therapy.
Overcoming the stigma of mental health takes serious grit, determination, and strength just like you've had to show others each and every day of your life to survive.
You and other Asian, Latinx, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color encounter major barriers in everyday life due to systemic racism.
Stigma of therapy only serves to create one more barrier because, ironically, stigma can lead to even more discrimination.
Actually, you're taking responsibility to take care of your mental health by asking for therapeutic support to heal racialized trauma. It means that you're embracing the power of vulnerability and radical self-compassion.
Mending your heart and body is a radical act of politics.
We want to help, and we can understand why you'd rather avoid therapy - especially with a white and male-identifying therapist.
Inhibitory emotions like shame, guilt, and anxiety get in the way and interfere with our core emotions like anger, fear, sadness, disgust, joy, excitement, and sexual excitement.
Frequently, we try to defend our Self somehow from all of the big, overwhelming emotions (e.g. depression).
We will help you slow down, tune in, and heal.
Working with a mindful and inclusive therapist can give you the safe space, outlet & sounding board, and therapeutic support that you need to untangle all of your thoughts, emotions, and defense behaviors while we unburden the parts of you that need attentive time and space to be seen, heard, and understood.
MATTHEW'S STATEMENT ON HIS OWN IDENTITY, POSITION, AND WORK:
Recent history of the mental health world would show that many clinicians were educated to develop "cultural competence".
While competence is an important value and pillar of responsible clinical practice, we believe that one cannot simply become fully "competent" in a culture from which that one person does not inherently belong.
Instead, we prefer the endearing process of "cultural humility", which in our view, does well to emphasize that personal healing and developmental work is a lifelong endeavor instead of an arrival point at which someone may become stagnant, comfortable, or ignorant.
"To learn" is a verb, and we will practice humility to always improve and increase our personal and professional knowledge, skills, empathy, understanding of, and connection to humanity and multiculturalism.
According to a statement posted on Instagram by the NASW New York State Chapter (@naswnys) on January 15, 2021, “Being a social worker does not absolve you from being racist”.
We agree, and we're grateful to NASW for their ongoing guidance for anti-racist resources.
Matthew Braman, LCSW (he/him), Founder & CEO of Verve Psychotherapy LCSW, PLLC, on his own white identity, power & privilege, and dismantling white supremacy in mental health:
"Using my personal and professional power & privilege - white, cis-gender & heteronormative male, middle class, millennial and college educated, small business owner, married and U.S. born citizen, Christian, and neurotypical able-body - with integrity is an ongoing action, a lifelong journey, and a legacy to which I am committed for as long as I live”.
We celebrate the strengths and center the needs of people with marginalized identities.
Anti-racism, anti-oppression, and social justice principles guide our work. AAPI, Latinx, & BIPOC folx deserve affirming care that does no harm.
You must be seen, heard, and understood without judgment during therapy because we need you to heal, learn, & grow.
We're proud to serve you, march with you, and advocate for you. We are proud to decolonize therapy.
Especially for White folx, it's on all of us to be anti-racist. Moreover, if you are "White Like Me" or if you would like to overcome your "White Fragility" to use your power and privilege with integrity (e.g. become anti-racist), then we invite you to book a consultation.
what to expect:
FIRST: Free 15 Minute Phone Consultation. This is the first opportunity for you and the therapist to ask each other questions. We discuss reasons why you're getting started in therapy, your needs and your therapeutic goals, and schedule availability. Mostly, we want to figure out if you and the therapist could be a good fit to work together. If so, then we schedule an intake appointment and you receive a Welcome Email to the Client Portal, where you can complete the required consent forms and book future appointments online.
SECOND: The Initial Intake Appointment. This is the next best opportunity for you to share as much about you and your life story as you can in order to help the therapist better understand you and what you need moving forward. Assessment & Evaluation of your mental health will guide discussion that is also focused on recent and remote history of many parts of you and your life like family, education, employment, self-care, and social relationships. We discuss a lot in this first appointment while we also make sure that the pace of our process helps you feel seen, heard, and understood. Finally, we identify specific therapeutic goals, discuss your treatment options, and create your personalized plan for therapy.
THIRD: First Follow Up Appointment. Assessment & Evaluation, Treatment Planning, and Discharge Planning will continue to show up as frequent topics of discussion throughout the course of treatment - they're not just discussed once in the first session and then never again mentioned. Now that you have had a chance to create a personalized plan for your therapy, we start working it into action. Mostly, we keep building rapport because the therapeutic relationship drives the work.
GOING FORWARD: Follow Up Appointments. Therapeutic process moves at your pace. Safely guiding clients through their own personalized treatment plan tops the agenda for each and every therapy session. Feedback Loops will help us monitor and modify how we work with each other in order to ensure that you get the return on your investment in therapy that you need because that is what matters to us most. Eventually, therapy will end and you will continue to build a life worth living.