I sent this email today to all of my clients with whom I'd already established a working relationship, and I am placing it here publically for any potential new clients to read.
I believe it is important for you to know where I stand. In therapy, I do my best to honor you as the expert on your own life and what feels right for you. However, I do have to acknowledge that as a therapist and human being, I, too, come with my own set of values that do enter the therapy room. I do my best to help each person who comes to me create a life that feels worth living. This letter is written in that spirit.
An Open Letter to My Clients
I am going to do something that is not usually part of the normal therapeutic relationship. Normally, I would not share personal information about myself–therapy should be about the client and not the therapist. However, these are not normal times.
I am always talking about using your voice, finding your truth, speaking with authenticity, and acting with integrity. I've talked with many people over my career about not letting perfectionism or fear get in the way, and to listen to our hearts and let love lead the way. Well, I may not be saying this perfectly, but I'm going to try anyway because it feels like the ethical thing to do.
I want to share that I am heartbroken and horrified by the recent news that has highlighted and underscored the racism in our systems today. I have watched the video of a white woman threatening a black man who asked her to put her dog on a leash in Central Park in NYC. I have watched the other videos that have been made public as well, of the killing of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery. My heartbreak is profound. If you aren't totally up to date or would like to hear a summary of recent events, this summary by Trevor Noah is very much worth listening to.
I am committed to feeling the discomfort that comes up around racism in general, the discomfort of pain and heartbreak and guilt. If we want to change, we need to be willing to see it, to feel it, and only then can we heal from it. As an individual person, and a psychologist, I am committed to doing this work in myself.
Here are some steps I've taken so far.
-I'm reading the book "How to Be an Antiracist" by Ibram X Kendi and I started a book club with a circle of people I don't know very well to start processing some of this.
-I also have the book "So You Want to Talk about Race" by Ijeoma Oluo and am committed to reading it and working the through it as fast as I can.
-I am trying to speak up, with love, about the things I am learning.
-I am writing this letter to you.
Systems that are racist, sexist–any system that has policies and structures in place that promote or result in inequality between groups of people–are harmful to us all. I am committed to doing everything I can to find these patterns in myself and start working on them, and to try to help other people do the same.
This is the only email I am going to send about this, but I most likely will be dusting off my website blog and posting more there so if you want to hear more from me about this, that would be a good place to look.
I am open to talking about this and other political/social issues as much or as little as feels helpful to you in individual sessions.
Thanks for reading. If there is any way I can support you better, please let me know.