A couple of months ago, during the peak of the Black Lives Matters protests, we had a staff meeting. Our staff wanted to make a statement in support of BLM, but we decided to hold off, preferring to do the right thing rather than the quick thing. Then we had to figure out what that right thing might look like.
So we formed a committee to review all of our treatment and training materials, to identify and revise anything that might be problematic or insensitive — with feedback from participants. We’re also looking at further diversifying our staff as we grow, and considering what recruitment and employment practices might support this.
We also developed two types of “Social Justice” training scholarships for therapists who are BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color), TGNC (Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming), or members of other marginalized groups.
Background: Due to a history of discrimination, therapists in marginalized groups may not have the resources to advance. We want to fill in some of the resource gap. To best allocate our limited resources, we spoke to a number of mental health professionals who are members of marginalized groups, to learn their priorities. They told us:
• We don’t want you to train therapists to take care of us; we want you to train us to be the therapists, to take care of our own people.
• We want more than the standard training; we want extra support.
• We want to be invested in, mentored, developed for leadership roles.
Based on these priorities, we developed two scholarships:
1. EMDR or PC Group Consultation Package of four half-day group consultation sessions. This is available at no cost to any eligible person who we have trained in EMDR or PC this year, or who participates in our current or future EMDR or PC trainings. (Note that this does not apply to those who obtain trainings from our Affiliated Trainers who manage their own registrations etc., as they are addressing social justice issues in their own ways.)
Rationale: The post-training group consultation package is intended to provide the extra support that may be needed to fully realize the therapist’s investment in the initial EMDR or PC training, to have the best chance of mastering EMDR/PC and integrating it into their practices.
2. We’ll also be offering some full scholarships to our nine month Trauma Therapy Certificate Program. Candidates will be selected following recommendation by a review committee comprised of mental health professionals who are themselves members of marginalized groups. Candidates will be selected, at any level in their career, based on promise of professional excellence.
Rationale: This is our flagship training program and includes 14 training days over nine months. It’s a small group so there’s more opportunity for mentorship. This is the program in which participants make the most progress towards becoming expert trauma therapists, which can lead to leadership opportunities.
As a small nonprofit organization, we can’t solve all the world’s problems. But we can do what we can do. As Rabbi Hillel famously said, “If not now, when? If not you, who?”
So: Black lives matter. There’s our statement. At least, the present version of it.