What does “healing” look like? What are we truly even healing from? What have we been told we need to heal from? If you have engaged in it, has this so-called healing process felt like a whole or complete one? And, even if it has been a fulfilling process, then what?
What comes after such a revolution? Even as a psychotherapist, I can honestly say I am not sure I know what the notion of true healing looks like yet, especially when one considers communities of color within the context of traditional notions of counseling.
Hopefully, this piece, and the ones to follow will generate a louder and more visible conversation among community toward necessary exploration and (re)discovery—remembering, that is—around this healing.
It is important to first think about what has been fed to us about what healing is and what we supposedly even need healing from in the first place. Over the past few years, there has been a bigger push for this shift in how people of color perceive psychotherapy in efforts to increase awareness around how this service is beneficial to us too.
Awesome! Part of why I became a therapist was to assist in this mission. So, let us break down what to expect, generally, in therapy.
Through clinical training as a therapist, we are ultimately taught that our psychological and emotional problems and traumas are our own. In other words, if we could just stop thinking so negatively about (which implies the perpetuating of) the (challenging) realities we are in, we wouldn’t experience so much struggle and strife emotionally and psychologically.
We must transcend to ascend, right? So, what’s the message here?
You are individually responsible for the way in which you “choose” to respond to the “rough patches” in your reality. Therefore, if you find yourself struggling, you must not be doing a good enough job at managing your negativity (cue the side-eye…).
This was your crash course on what is considered the mainstream short-term therapy approach, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
To take this notion a step further, one must consider the more profound implications of the assumption above. If we, as individuals, are molded and primed to take responsibility for our shortcomings and problems in life, where is the psychological space and permission necessary to begin to come to terms with generations of oppression and trauma that were inflicted upon entire groups and communities of people?
Where or how does this truth—this history—fit into the particularly common therapeutic narrative that in order to heal one must accept what he or she does and does not have power over? Where is the accountability and social justice necessary within this context for generations of communities to truly heal?
If therapeutic models and ways of “healing” in a therapeutic context completely dismiss or avoid this “harsh reality,” what, then, becomes a path to healing for certain people? In my work among and with community, I have heard and observed repeated thoughts and feelings voiced around how there simply is no safe space to really talk about our traumas, in a historical context, and feel validated, supported, heard, seen.
How do we begin to create these spaces and openly and productively have these conversations—conversations that can lead to community movement? Let’s talk about it.
Kayla Nembhard is a licensed psychotherapist, budding writer and community warrior. Kayla’s mission is to use words and narratives or stories through therapeutic practice and simple everyday conversation to remind people of their inherent magic and power to transform not only their individual lives but their communities as well.