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

 

All of us are brilliant students of our society, — our families, communities, societies, culture. These factors shape our identities based on creed, gender, colour, etc. — which then shape our realities. To know who we are requires understanding these influences, which reflect this imperfect world as well as how it has shaped who we are. By doing so, we can tease out who we are at our “core,” from what we’ve been taught. I look forward to shifting through these layers with you to find your true

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

Facing daily sociocultural pressures can be incredibly painful. Regardless of what brought them to therapy, many of my patients have a social identity that has impacted their mental health in some way. My goal is to help you harness resources, both in your environment and within yourself, that can help you navigate persistent and oppressive social forces. No matter how you identify, my door is always open.

— Saira Malhotra, Therapist in Denver, CO
 

Oppression can be covert or overt, but it is always unjust. Understanding how external factors, whether it be from legislative policies or society's perception, affect our lives makes it easier for us to learn how to navigate and break down these barriers. We must also mourn the ways in which our lives have been shaped due to oppression.

— Ashley Lesovoy, Clinical Social Worker

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
 

Growing up in Mississippi exposed me to the harsh realities of oppression early on. These experiences position my current work in a way that centers racial terror and post traumatic stress syndrome. Combining both my artist and art therapist identities, I visually translate archival data as it relates to elements of oppressive systems. Using visual representations, I foster dialogue about the health inequities as a result of heightened stress factors that impact our quality of life.

— April Fitzpatrick, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in , FL

As a Women's Studies major at the University of Minnesota in the early 90's, my knowledge of and interest in oppression of all sorts grew enormously. It was truly one of the most valuable aspects of my education. That interest has only increased since the 2016 election. From that time on, our political and social climate has felt surreal. Unfortunately, it seems the progress we've made since the 1960's has been crumbling before our eyes. Ultimately I'm an optimist though, and I still have hope.

— Molly Nicholson, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in Minneapolis, MN
 

With my background in Social Work, I have an understanding of how power and privilege operate within society and how they can contribute to the marginalization and oppression of individuals and groups based on their cultural identity. I believe that understanding cultural and systemic oppression is an essential component of providing effective and culturally sensitive mental health care to individuals from diverse backgrounds.

— Tra Hoang, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in New York, NY

My dissertation investigated body image across diverse populations including WOC. In particular I am interested in how WOC use their bodies as a commodity in order to compensate for systemic-level oppression and white-cis-heteronormative dynamics. Clinically, I work from a holistic, relational, empowerment focused and intersectional feminist perspective. I recognize that areas of oppression are linked and cumulative. I strive to use my privileges to help others create clarity and

— Olivia Carollo, Clinical Psychologist in Chicago, IL
 

The need for social justice comes from the heavy emotional and physical toll that cultural and systemic oppression takes on us. Many of us carry the symptoms of oppression. It is in our bodies and spirits and shows up in work and in our relationships. I work with clients by teaching somatic techniques that help create inner support as well as strategize for ways to develop nourishing practices and cultivate interpersonal and community supports.

— Jamila Dawson, Sex Therapist in , CA

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

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 with this deeper insight, can we feel empowered to regain control of our lives.

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

Facing daily sociocultural pressures can be incredibly painful. Regardless of what brought them to therapy, many of my patients have a social identity that has impacted their mental health in some way. My goal is to help you harness resources, both in your environment and within yourself, that can help you navigate persistent and oppressive social forces. No matter how you identify, my door is always open.

— Saira Malhotra, Therapist in Denver, CO

Systemic oppression can be damaging to your life, mental health and impact your sense of self. As a Black therapist, I understand the damage that this can cause and I also understand that there are times when western psychology practice is not always sufficient in addressing the mental health concerns of the historically oppressed and marginalized.

— Chioko Grevious, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in Sacramento, CA
 

Cultural and Systemic Oppression related to Race, Sexuality, and alternative lifestyles

— Carla Edwards-Burke, Psychologist in Kansas City, MO

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 consider myself a strong activist and work hard to understand how issues of oppression impact the problems presented in therapy. I understand how racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and any form of bigotry both on an institutional level and personal level, create huge amounts of stress in different populations. I taught for over a decade in a masters level course around understanding issues of oppression and internal biases and how they impact therapy.

— Deann Acton, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Austin, TX

Facing daily sociocultural pressures can be incredibly painful. Regardless of what brought them to therapy, many of my patients have a social identity that has impacted their mental health in some way. My goal is to help you harness resources, both in your environment and within yourself, that can help you navigate persistent and oppressive social forces. I specifically have experience working with those who identify as LGBTQ+, people of color, or second-generation Americans.

— Saira Malhotra, Therapist in Denver, CO
 

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. To know who we are requires understanding these influences, and how it has shaped who we are. By doing so, we can tease out who we are at our “core,” from what we’ve been taught. Let’s sift through these layers to find your true self.

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

Our approach brings in consideration of our clients’ cultures and unpacks societal factors and forces of systemic oppression. We use a values-forward style that curiously explores your environment and context, and considers how issues of social justice and (in)equity may be contributing to your distress.

— Kindman & Co. Therapy Practice, Therapist in Los Angeles, CA