I find it hard to believe that we are still struggling with how to address cultural diversity in the counseling community. I have been in the counseling field now for over 20 years. Take it from me, African-American clients are not doing well. I, as an African-American counselor am not doing well. The feeling of being invisible and devalued due to one’s race is something that a counselor of any color can make space for by sensitivity sitting with and listening to the client, and attempting to encourage and support the client. The best thing a counselor can do to help is to recognize there is a problem and encourage clients of color to talk about it freely.
The silence I have experienced as a counselor and a woman of color is deafening and telling at the same time. Unfortunately, I have experienced first-hand microaggressions within the counseling community. A few examples of this are:
- I have been challenged by other counselors that the black experience in counseling has no relevance.
- I have been stopped about 5 minutes from my office – ‘driving while black’.
- I have been ignored and overlooked at training and conferences.
- I have been ignored or overlooked to speak on the topic of race and discrimination in favor of white colleagues speaking on the topic instead of selecting a counselor of color.
As a counselor, if I limit my interactions to people within my same ethnic group, then I would never know the pain or the experiences of others who are not like me.
Please check out the following books that are designed to educate and enlighten those who have a limited to no idea of the challenges African-Americans experience every day:
- “White Fragility” by Robin Diangelo “
- “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome” by Dr. Joy DegruyI