I became increasingly disappointed and frustrated as I read the article on vicarious trauma in the Autumn 2023 edition of ETQ.
I am a Black EMDR and art psychotherapist, and an activist. I have, over many years, worked with Black people who are colleagues, clients, peers, friends, family and community members. I was interested in exploring racialised vicarious trauma, and I looked within the article and the references for specific support or acknowledgement of the impact of racial trauma on Black therapists, care workers and others within the public sector. I wondered if the experience of racialised trauma came up in the training workshops or the research and literature that informed this article.
In my broad and lengthy experience of working as a Black therapist in the public sector, I know that recognition and understanding of systemic racism (such as racist slights and slurs, indirect and direct racism, and how it impacts the body, the mind and a person’s sense of safety) is limited. Workplace support is virtually non-existent.
In my experience, raising these issues formally or informally is often responded to with ignorance, shame or denial, defensiveness, distress and anger. This experience is shared by others, is well documented in the literature and can lead to secondary trauma, which is frequently suffered in silence.
I have read and listened to too many experiences from Black and brown therapists, activists, social workers, community workers, nurses, doctors, care workers and teachers who have across the decades been ostracised, missed out on promotion and excluded and silenced for raising issues about racism in services and in practice. These issues need to be brought out into the open and included in resources that address vicarious trauma. I have stated in past posts and blogs that the televised murder of George Floyd opened a space for these discussions for a brief period, which has now seemingly been shut down.
I would have liked to have seen the specific issue of racism included in the article and for the references to have provided information about support and strategies for people who are dealing with the overwhelming impact of racism. Such incidences are being cited with alarming frequency in high-profile cases of public service failures that impact the lives of our communities on a daily basis.
#racisminschools #racisminhealth #racisminhousing #racisminpolicing