The Monitor on Psychology - April 2018
Here is an excerpt:
Be aware of your own internalized biases.
Reflecting on their own social, cultural and political perspectives means practitioners are less likely to be caught off guard by something a client says. “It’s important for psychologists to be aware of what a client’s biases and prejudices are bringing up for them internally, so as not to project that onto the client—it’s important to really understand what’s happening,” says Kathleen Brown, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist and APA fellow.
For Kelly, the Atlanta-based clinical psychologist, this means she’s careful not to assume that resistant clients are treating her disrespectfully because she’s African American. Sometimes her clients, who are referred for pre-surgical evaluation and treatment, are difficult or even hostile
because their psychological intervention was mandated.
Foster an open dialogue about diversity and identity issues.
“The benefit of having that conversation, even though it can be scary or uncomfortable to bring it up in the room, is that it prevents it from festering or interfering with your ability to provide high-quality care to the client,” says Illinois-based clinical psychologist Robyn Gobin, PhD, who has experienced ageism from patients. She responds to ageist remarks by exploring what specific concerns the client has regarding her age (like Turner, she looks young). If she’s met with criticism, she tries to remain receptive, understanding that the client is vulnerable and any hostility the client expresses reflects concern for his or her own well-being. By being open and frank from the start, she shows her clients the appropriate way to confront their biases in therapy.
Of course, practitioners approach these conversations differently. If a client makes a prejudiced remark about another group, Buckman says labeling the comment as “offensive” shifts the attention from the client onto her. “It doesn’t get to the core of what’s going on with them. In the long run, exploring a way to shift how the client interacts with the ‘other’ is probably more valuable than standing up for a group in the moment.”
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