Learning to be more inclusive in your therapy practice is far from a one-and-done deal. Understanding your own biases and becoming a more culturally sensitive person takes constant growth. Learn how to become a more inclusive therapist with these few tips designed to get you started on a path of growth.
Understand Your Own Biases
Everyone has their own set of biases that they need to outgrow. Whether these are racial, sexual, or economic judgments, they have deep roots in what we are taught and what we experience.
For example, when treating a patient with poor financial standing, do you assume that they’re bad with money or have some sort of addiction? If a client comes in your office dressed ostentatiously, do you jump to conclusions about their personality?
Most therapists strive to give their patients unconditional positive regard, but can one accomplish this mindset if they do not carefully consider and analyze their biases and prejudices?
Know the Biases of Your Practice
Therapy and counseling have a history of extreme bias that affects clients today. In its early days, therapy was sexist, racist, and mostly comprised of wealthy white men. In current times, women are still diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder more than twice as frequently as men. That number jumps again when we consider how many women of color are diagnosed with BPD in relation to white women.
Autism is also more likely to go unnoticed in women and is mainly diagnosed in men because the original studies were comprised entirely of white cis-gendered males. Trans people still have to get a recommendation from their therapists if they want gender confirmation surgery.
To properly diagnose a client, it is vital to understand their entire history and the diagnosis’s origins.
Encourage Yourself To Keep Growing
You will make mistakes along this road of inclusivity, but you must actively work on these issues by listening to the voices of your clients and the marginalized people around you. Practicing intersectionality and queer affirming practices isn’t enough if you don’t understand the significance of affirmative and multicultural counseling.
Pay close attention to what marginalized voices are saying, whether on social media, television, or in your everyday life. Growth is constant, and therapists know that better than anyone.
Bettering yourself and knowing the history of your practice are the first steps to becoming a more inclusive therapist. Listen to your clients about more than just their troubles and trauma, and maybe even ask how they would like to see therapy change as a practice. They may give you some golden insight.