Los Angeles Chapter  California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists

Los Angeles Chapter — CAMFT

LA-CAMFT Member Article

10/31/2021 7:30 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

Randi Gottlieb,

White Therapists Antiracist Group at Six Months

In the summer of 2020, following the murder of George Floyd, LA-CAMFT hosted a forum titled, Roundtable: Anti-racism as a Movement, not a Moment. Over 50 therapists brought their voices to begin the difficult conversations we needed to have about systemic racism within our own therapy community and how to move forward.

That first Roundtable served as a catalyst for a multitude of additional conversations, workshops, and initiatives, including a focused planning effort on the part of several therapists to engage white therapists in antiracist work.

Fast forward to April 25, 2021, when twelve therapists attended the breakout group for white therapists at LA-CAMFT’s Antiracist Roundtable 2. And on June 5th, just a little over a month later, the official first meeting of the White Therapists Antiracist Group was held.

Recognizing that when whiteness is invisible to white people, racism is maintained, we knew this is where we had to begin our work. So, for these first six months, we have been “unpacking the personal” which means exploring our white identity. We have been confronting the invisible whiteness of our lives, making the invisible visible. We are “witnessing our whiteness” by facing our personal experiences of white privilege in our lives and seeing how it is embedded in every aspect of our social, educational, financial, political, medical and mental health systems. We have created a safe space to express and explore our discomfort, to grow beyond the white fragility of our shame, defensiveness, and denial so that we can engage with our colleague therapists of color to dismantle racism in our therapy practice and community. We are committed to gain the skills to be in action in effective, affirmative ways.

The following are the words of several group members speaking to their commitment to the work and to their experience thus far in the White Therapists Antiracist Group. 

“As therapists, we have committed ourselves to fostering self-understanding and personal growth in our clients. And for many of us, this same commitment applies to ourselves. As a white person who is a therapist, my growth edge now is a deep dive into unflinchingly recognizing my whiteness, in all its parameters and seeking new choices in how I think, act, live. I am so fortunate to be able to pursue this growth in a community of white therapists, all of us dedicated to exposing and taming our latent racism.” 

“Participating in this group has granted me an opening to access the lifetime accumulation of beliefs, thoughts and actions / in-actions that are a part of being white. 

I’m more aware and willing to own my internal narrative that has developed from being a member of the empowered and dominant group in our society.” 

“I made a commitment to continue to unpack, make contact with, and explore my growing edges regarding my White Identity and how that impacts the world, others and self. I believe the more that I am making conscious what is unconscious, the more available I will be to engage in responsible allyship.”  

“As a white person and parent, I feel it’s essential for me to engage in antiracist efforts, and to better understand race and racism through self-education, dialogue and self-examination. As a white therapist, with the additional responsibility to “do no harm,” I recognize the importance of acknowledging my privilege and opening up conversations about race in the therapy room. I really appreciate LA-CAMFT's White Therapists Antiracist Group, as it provides a space for a deeper exploration of whiteness, and an opportunity for continued learning, reflecting and growth.” 

“When I look into my heart, I know racism and discriminatory practices and patterns are unjust. I do this antiracism work because for too long I have let discomfort silence me. The fact that I have a choice to be quiet at all is a sign of my privilege. The first part of this work is to be able to look at myself, honestly, and to decide that I must embrace being uncomfortable. Being uncomfortable is the first step to acknowledge and accept the need for growth in order to make change. My commitment to this antiracist affinity group has given me the safe space needed in order to educate myself so I can consistently show up and be who I say I am, no matter the circumstances. Tell me, when you look into your heart, what does it say to you?”

What have we learned these six months? That though we have just begun, we are on the right track. That meeting these 6 months has only increased our commitment to the work. That this kind of work is best done in small groups averaging about 8 people. Therefore, to provide the opportunity and experience for more folks, it is incumbent upon us to replicate. If, “when you look into your heart” you feel moved to become part of this movement, and would like to be part of the next 8-member group, We’d love to hear from you!

Contact me at DiversityCommittee@lacamft.org.

Randi Gottlieb, LMFT, is a psychotherapist in private practice in Los Angeles. Her work is rooted in Gestalt, attachment focused EMDR, and Trauma Resiliency as complimentary body/mind approaches. She frames her work within a Narrative Therapy lens. Randi’s areas of specialization include treatment for children, birth through emerging adulthood, life transitions, and trauma recovery. She is Chair of the LA-CAMFT White Therapists Anti-Racist Group and a member of the Diversity Committee.

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