Racial tension is a hot-button issue today in our schools, workplaces and the political discourse. It is an issue that many of psychologist Dr. Cassandra Hutchins’ patients look to deal with in therapy.
“I would say the racial climate impacts 95 percent of my patients,” she said. “Regardless of their race, I am seeing that cross-culturally. People are reacting and responding to this with feelings of anxiety, anger and depression.”
To address these feelings head on, the therapist uses therapy cards, filled with mindfulness exercises.
“What I have recognized in my practice is that regardless of the color of your skin, or your cultural background, or even your age, or gender, we are all struggling with some of the same difficulties,” she said.
She describes the moment she realized how our similarities in many cases outweigh our differences as “profound.”
Education is the Key
The key to bridging racial divides, she says, is ultimately education.
“We really want to stay informed,” she said.
Educating yourself means recognizing your own biases towards those who look like you.
“If we see that naturally we are drawn to people who look like us, but also understand and recognize that we are all human, then maybe we can start to hold space for just the knowing that we are not that different,” she said.
As a therapist, she sees that her clients are open to addressing the issues within themselves and willing to change.
“Usually they are open to diving deeper into what could have brought them into this point of their life,” she said.
She advises fellow therapists to educate themselves on different cultures to address their needs better.
“I think they have to have their own cultural competency going in,” she said. “It is very important to recognize what our own biases are.”
This article is part of a series called “The Trauma of Racism,” where we highlight the effects racism can have on minority populations.