Cultural and Systemic Oppression

The term cultural and systemic oppression refers to the mistreatment of people of a specific group that is supported and enforced by society and its institutions. It can be formal or implicit, and appears in many forms, including racism and sexism. Oppression of any kind, especially over an extended period of time, can deeply affect your mental health and your sense of self. Working with a therapist who is well-versed in these constructs can help you better recognize when they are influencing your life, and how to better manage that influence. Reach out to one of TherapyDen’s cultural and systemic oppression specialists today.

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Meet the specialists

 

Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare. — Audre Lorde My training and career has always focused on serving marginalized and minoritized communities. I think of engaging in culturally-conscious therapy--to do the work of uncovering and understanding your roots in order to build a resilient and values-aligned life--as a form of radical resistance to oppressive systems.

— Shin Ock, Psychologist in North Bethesda, MD

Humans are brilliant learners, absorbing messages from our environments — families, society, culture — these external influences shape our identities based on creed, gender, colour, etc., which then shape our realities. Knowing who we are requires understanding these influences, and how it has influenced our lenses and behaviours. Only then, can we be empowered to feel in control of our lives. Let’s sift through these layers to find your true self.

— I-Ching Grace Hung, Psychologist in San Francisco, CA
 

Clinically, I work from a holistic, relational, empowerment focused and intersectional feminist perspective. I recognize that areas of oppression are linked and cumulative. In response, I work to help clients navigate these complex dynamics and improve their quality of life. As a Cis-White, Able-Bodied female, it is my job to do the background work and create a space where clients can explore, learn and understand themselves better. You are the expert of your life.

— Olivia Carollo, Clinical Psychologist in Chicago, IL

I utilize a Treating Internalized Oppression (IO) framework as a foundation for all of my work with clients. This framework helps me to collaborate with my clients to hone in on how their interior world has been shaped by the identities they inhabit and the oppressions/traumas lived through in their lives, past and present. The goal of using the IO framework is to increase self-awareness toward liberation by identifying and metabolizing internalized messages that limit thriving.

— Jen Davis, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in Seattle, WA
 

When you live life uncertain if spaces have been carved out for you, it impacts your concept of safety; your quality of life; thoughts of self; thereby, your mental health. Cultural and systemic oppression, is an unfortunate part of existence outside of the perceived dominant group. Through art therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and other modalities we can begin to address the impact of oppression on the psyche and decolonize the mind.

— Anastasia Mitchell, Licensed Professional Counselor in Denver, CO

I chose to complete my studies in Social Work, specifically to study systems of oppression in our society, with a strong focus on religious systems of oppression. I am well-versed in religious systems of oppression, but this understanding translates to any hierarchical system: racism, workplace discrimination, family systems of oppression, interpersonal oppression (abuse and neglect), and financial oppression (capitalism). Where you have humans in societies together, there is always risk.

— Julia Krump, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Fort Collins, CO
 

Personal empowerment is inseparable from transformative sociopolitical change. This conviction infuses all that I do, including my psychotherapy approach. Since 2016, I have offered workshops and courses on Racism, Diversity, and Psychoanalysis. I also have years of experience as a grassroots environmental and social justice community organizer.

— Aleisa Myles, Psychologist in Media, PA

I utilize a Treating Internalized Oppression (IO) framework as a foundation for all of my work with clients. This framework helps me to collaborate with my clients to hone in on how their interior world has been shaped by the identities they inhabit and the oppressions/traumas lived through in their lives, past and present. The goal of using the IO framework is to increase self-awareness toward liberation by identifying and metabolizing internalized messages that limit thriving.

— Jen Davis, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in Seattle, WA
 

Identifying as part of the global majority in a system that was created to marginalize and oppress people of color is challenging, to say the least. Though dismantling the system is a goal, taking care of your individual self is vital. The conversation around systemic oppression often uses active language like "fight", but when it comes to you, I wonder if we can incorporate more rest. Part of what is stolen (among labor and time) is rest and the energy to take care of yourself.

— Sidrah Khan, Licensed Professional Counselor in Austin, TX

Humans are brilliant learners, absorbing messages from our environments — families, society, culture, whether these messages are positive or negative. These external influences shape our identities based on creed, gender, colour, etc., which then shape our realities. Knowing who we are requires understanding these influences and how it has influenced our lenses and behaviours. Only with this deeper insight, can we feel empowered to regain control of our lives.

— I-Ching Grace Hung, Psychologist in San Francisco, CA
 

In my graduate education, I have both taken and taught classes on racism and systemic oppression. In my clinical practice, I see systemic oppression to be more then race; it also includes gender, sexuality, ethical non-monogamy, ability, citizenship, etc. Much of my experience working with cultural oppression include the manifestations of anxiety and depression.

— Ajay Dheer, Registered Marriage and Family Therapist Intern in Beaverton, OR

The unprovoked deaths of women and men of color have exposed again the challenges that many of us face to have true equity in the United States. This, along with COVID-19 and the resulting economic impact have had a disproportionate impact on families of color. Understanding the systemic issues and how to address them proactively is essential for our mental health.

— Eldridge Greer, Clinical Psychologist in Denver, CO
 

We work with BIPOC. We live in an indoctrinated society. Stigma runs rampant and most of us operate from a narrative and language that perpetuates, support and often complies with oppression and indoctrination. Is it a surprise we are suffering from trauma, depression, anxiety and the likes? If we can begin to unpack how society has victimized us we can begin to alter our stories around shame and self-blame towards a more holistic view of inner and societal healing.

— Moushumi Ghose, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Los Angeles, CA

Being bicultural/biracial, and having worked with the refugee and immigrant population for over 22 years, I have a deep-seeded passion for social justice and advocacy. I believe in being an agency of change and for providing safe spaces for individuals to explore and address ways in which they have been oppressed, marginalized, and disenfranchised.

— Saara Amri, Licensed Professional Counselor in Springfield, VA
 

Learning is endless. One must be political to have a world free of cultural and systemic oppression. I became open to organizing work straight out of grad school, where I worked with mothers in a head start center. I continued my learning after leaving the organizing world and engaged with others on social media, growing my knowledge and praxis in liberation work. In my approach, I facilitate and co-learn and co-create with clients. You are the expert of your own lived experiences and story.

— Yasmin Jordan, Licensed Master of Social Work in New York, NY

As an adolescent and adult, I observed the violence that is inflicted upon marginalized bodies when spiritual leaders attempt to act outside of the scope of their training and provide counsel to people with needs beyond their grasp. I saw how their limited understanding as well as their internalized white supremacy hurt multiple generations of families. As an active participant in my own healing, I have devoted my life to helping others reclaim their own power, and fight for their healing.

— Julius Peterson, Clinical Social Worker in Decatur, GA
 

I am so happy that we are finally naming the issue instead of silencing, erasing, gaslighting, pathologizing or criminalizing those who are at the effect of it. The ways in which the violence manifests in people's lives can take many forms. And the symptoms can resemble other issues. But if we cannot differentiate cause from response, we will not be able to effectively engage or heal.

— Lisa Ndejuru, Psychotherapist in Montreal,