What Works in Counseling, Psychotherapy, and Psychoanalysis: Embrace Difference

I am a cisgendered, heterosexual, Caucasian male who continues – especially in the current climate – to examine and attempt to understand the ways socialization as a white male of privilege can unconsciously influence my clinical work. I do take affirming stance toward women, gays, LGBTQs, African-Americans, Asian American, Latino-Americans, immigrants, and others, and remain open to having the difficult conversations that might in the process peel back layers of socialization that might have, out of my awareness, led me to not recognize or be aware of what I do not know about the life experiences of non-whites. When someone from a minority group comes to me, I am open to sharing the extent and limits of my experience as appropriate, consult relevant literature, and talk to experienced colleagues who are comfortable discussing these issues with me to better understand the variables that may influence both the construal and expression of the patient’s (and my own) phenomenological or inner experience – and my interpretation, diagnostic impressions, and conceptualizations. I want to convey to my patients that I am open to learning more about what it has been like to be them living in the dominant culture of which I am a privileged member just by where I was born (Cleveland, OH), my gender (male), my educational opportunities (Williams College; Emory University), professional opportunities open to a doctoral level clinical psychologist. And, my whiteness.