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


Have you experienced rejection because of your race, gender, or sexuality and are exploring what living as your authentic self looks like? Or are you wrestling with your faith as a result of experiencing the effects of racism, sexism, or other forms of injustice within your faith community? In our sessions, you will receive support in releasing the painful messages in your life. Together, we will sit in the tension and reconcile all parts of you so that you can embody authentic self with joy.

— Christie Morgan, Psychotherapist in Boulder, CO

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

As intersectional beings, intersecting cultures and systems of oppressions influence our experience incessantly.

— Dr. Jean-Arellia Tolentino, Clinical Psychologist in oakland, CA

I encourage clients to connect with their inner child to unlearn the internalized oppressive messages that result from life, on a micro and macro level; with the belief that unlearning these messages can empower folx into moving forward and reclaiming their lives.

— Lilith Halpe, Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor in Seattle, WA

As a first generation multicultural therapist creating a safe space for those that have been othered, marginalized, oppressed, and hold multigenerational trauma matters deeply to me. Since 2011 I have been working with and educating myself on DEI, multigenerational trauma and somatics, and have been working in large part with BIPOC/ the global majority. I am white passing, and welcome discussion about the impact of this; my intent is that a space is made for all of you, free of code switching.

— Pujita Latchman, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Berkeley, 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. 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

I believe colonial oppression is at the root of all violence against our capacity to love ourselves and each other.

— Garen Karnikian, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist

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.

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

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

Developed familiarity working with cultural and system oppression from necessity acquiring the skills to advocate for clients facing bias and discrimination as inherent parts of the therapeutic system, as well as from personal experience.

— Kameryn "Yams" Rose, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in , CA

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

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

Are you feeling the weight of oppression more acutely? Social media and globalization has connected us all, but has also exposed us to more vicarious trauma by witnessing the victimization of members of targeted groups, especially with the rise of nationalism, xenophobia, and the effects of capitalism, globally. We can work together together to sort though your thoughts and feelings, and decide what kinds of action you'd like to take (if any) to heal and honor your culture and yourself.

— Katy Shaffer, Psychologist in Baltimore, MD

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

Seeking out a therapist who understands systemic oppression, cultural factors related to identity, and how they may exacerbate organic symptoms should be easier. With this in mind, I orient my therapeutic work (and life) in acknowledgement of the many systems (overt and covert) that impact folks whose identities fall along the margins.

— Sarah Brock Chavez, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Los Angeles, CA

Being an immigrant and minority in a foreign country, I personally experienced more systemic oppression. I related with clients who also experience in oppression

— Safe Space Counseling Services LLC, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in , MD

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

As a therapist committed to dismantling cultural and systemic oppression, I provide a safe space for you to explore the impact of social injustices on mental health. Let's navigate these complexities together and generate empowerment, healing, and social change.

— Judy Huang, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Berkeley, 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

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