Racism and discrimination in psychotherapy and coaching

Basically, the question arises, whether psychotherapy or coaching for experiences of racism and other forms of discrimination is actually different from (intercultural) psychotherapy or coaching. The answer is a clear yes-and-no.

Yes, in so far as there are different phases and levels in the processing of experi-ence, each of which influence the development of problems in their own way. And, of course, these experiences also play a role in our conversations.
No, in so far as the methods used in combination with the examination of racism, discrimination and marginalisation will certainly be beneficial. All methods are inter-nationally developed and individually adapted. The different levels of communication and socialisation are carefully reflected with respect and consideration for each individual.

sangita_gross

SEE CLEARLY. BECOME CLEAR. BE IN THE CLEAR.

I offer coaching, mediation and psychotherapy in the heart of Bonn.

What is racism, what is discrimination?

Discrimination

Simply put, the word discrimination means to differentiate. Differences are highlighted by others by singling out one or more specific characteristics. Discrimination can be both positive and negative, and it is never only possible from majority to minority, but also vice versa. The main question is: are we all permanently aware of this discrimination? And the clear answer is: No, we are not, because we cannot focus on that in our everyday lives. It only becomes important when one or more people in our environment are negatively impacted, especially longterm. Most of the time we just ignore discrimination and just try to get along.

Racism and Othering

To put it very simply, the word „racism" means that people are discriminated on the basis of their colour or other characteristics and are kept in a socially disadvantaged position. This occurs in the smallest of communicative situations that make the person considered "dissimilar" into the Other (Othering). The individuals and groups excluded as "other", i.e. minorities, experience social and (world) economic power relations in small and larger contexts differently, i.e. as negatively discriminating, than members of the "normal" white-positioned social majority.

People whose identity, for various reasons, is rooted in colonial power relations, find it extremely difficult to recognise themselves as being deeply affected by invisible structures. People whose identity is rooted in a "white-positioned" power relationship also find it difficult to recognize their role in "maintaining“ the status quo. This is because most injuries do not result from a gross or intentional negative racist attitude, but from subtle racist structures that work unconsciously.

In those affected, a specific form of self-doubt and assessment difficulties arises, as does a specific form of ambivalence. For example, how does one deal with the feeling of being othered, even if the positive intention of the other person is noticeable? Most people of colour know the sentence: "But your German is so good". This kind of repeated situations, experienced from childhood on, lead to specific injuries, which can even lead to micro-traumatisation.

Discrimination and racism in psychotherapy and coaching

This leads in our common way to special questions, in order to be able to analyse the effects on the individual with a lot of empathy.

  • Are the problems recognized at all?
  • Are they played down or dramatised?
  • Has the client already developed the ability to name these problems?
  • Is it really helpful to address a prejudiced or racism-critical perspective at a specific point in time?
  • Is there a basic permanent stress load?
  • Which strategies of dealing with exclusion have been developed?
  • Anger? Withdrawal? Compensatory mechanisms

It took me many years of intensive examination of the topic and self-reflection to be able to assist as a coach and therapist with these issues in a helpful and understanding way. In connection with intercultural competences I can support white peo-ple and people of colour alike to understand themselves and the others better - and thus to avoid confirming and consolidating discrimination and racism.

SANGITA POPAT M.A.
HERSELER STRASSE 18
53111 BONN
0228 - 90 27 83 33 

sp@sangita-popat.de
www.sangita-popat.de