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.

Need help finding the right therapist?
Find Your Match

Meet the specialists


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 Nashville, TN

I have a Bachelor's degree in Black Studies and Psychology. My experience in mental health includes minorities, marginalized groups, and individuals that experience cultural and systematic oppression such as individuals experiencing homelessness, and people that identify as Black, Indigenous, or person of color. I've counseled Black and Hispanic children from the inner city, diagnosed with mental, emotional and intellectual disorders.

— Jalisa Taylor, Licensed Master of Social Work in New York, NY

My primary trainer uses an anti-oppression framework in conjunction with Psychodrama. I was an actor in the Theatre of Oppressed, studied an anti-oppression curriculum in graduate school, my supervisor specializes in anti-oppression therapy. I was an activist in the immigration movement.

— Sara Ramos-Amador, Creative Art Therapist in Seattle, WA

I have a lot of experience working with a diverse population and am dedicated to my ongoing learning to address issues of cultural and systemic oppression.

— Kayla Nelson, Clinical Psychologist in Huntington, NY

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, Art Therapist

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

The Shame Resilience Theory developed by Dr. Brené Brown in 2006. I believe many of us live with internalized shame and the core beliefs about ourselves are clouded by this specific emotion. Over time, internalized shame can develop into symptoms anxiety and depression.

— Naomi Duffy, Associate Clinical Social Worker in Los Angeles, 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 blend of boundary-setting modalities to address historical and intergenerational trauma. Survival instincts and ways of coping are often passed down in a family system, even if they don't always serve the present moment. Understanding why we react to certain situations, and why others may react, can increase compassion. Once we have cultivated that compassion we can articulate and implement boundaries from a place of acceptance and respect.

— Dwight Bejec, Licensed Professional Counselor in Warrenville, IL

Learn more about how you can benefit from culturally sensitive approach and heal from cultural and systemic oppression. Issues that can deeply affect your sense of self and your mental health as a whole. This therapeutic approach, will help you better recognize the oppressive constructs that are influencing your life, and how to better manage that influence and find your core beliefs and values in your unique path of individuation.

— Dr. Nadia Thalji, Psychotherapist in San Francisco, CA

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

I have worked in and adjacent to the activist community in Chicago and am familiar with the was that systemic oppression impacts cultures of the global majority. I work to affirm my clients, help to repair their racial stress/traumatic memories and organize their strategies for managing the structural oppression they have and may continue to face and experience.

— Shelly Quiles, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Chicago, IL

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

I am an HIV positive single mother of an adult child with a significant developmental disability - I have a deep understanding of systemic oppression and the impacts it can have on your well-being. In addition, I have a close relationship with poverty and have spent 16 years working with underserved and marginalized populations. Prior to entering private practice, I worked with individuals living in permanent supportive housing.

— Kelly Hill, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Seattle, WA

All of my practices are shaped by being anti-oppressive (to reduce harm), liberatory (to find ways of healing and thriving), and de-colonial (challenging the harmful impacts of colonization and white supremacy culture). I support clients from diverse and often marginalized backgrounds, include LGBTQIA+, BIPOC, immigrants, and diverse abilities.

— Jaya Roy, Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Research shows that the impacts of discrimination and marginalization can manifest in both mental and physical health. I strive to take into account factors related to culture, context, privilege and marginalization, as we explore therapeutic concerns.

— Dr. Luana Bessa, Psychologist in Boston, MA