Social Justice Counseling

lin-homepic-yinyang

Do You Feel Worn Down by The World?

Are you an activist who is wondering how you can find healing for yourself while also striving to bring healing to the world? Maybe you are wondering how you can be the most effective agent of change while also creating space for self-compassion and self-care.

Do you feel overwhelmed by all the pain in the world, and you can hardly stand to read the news anymore? Are you highly empathic, and feel depressed, enraged and motivated to act, but don’t know how? Maybe you were once active in protests and political movements, but now you feel as though the obligations of your own life have made you lose sight of social justice. Do you wish you could talk to someone who understands social justice and modern activism so that you can find the best way to balance your values, nurture yourself and enact social change?
Living with a heightened awareness of social and political issues can be an isolating, frustrating and hopeless experience, especially if you identify with a disenfranchised group. Or, maybe you consider yourself an ally, but struggle to fully understand and navigate the meaning of your role without accidentally hurting those you wish to support. Perhaps you have recently been very involved in movements, such as Black Lives Matter, ending LGBTQ hate violence and Occupy Denver but feel increasingly helpless, depressed, defeated and burned out. You may have experienced physical or emotional trauma during protests, especially if you faced verbal abuse, aggressive police or time in jail. Maybe you are struggling to feel compassionate anymore, and you sometimes just want to crawl into bed and shut the world out, even though this impulse fills you with guilt. You might be unsure if there’s anything you can do to make a difference in your own life, let alone the lives of others.

Are Your Gifts Also Your Challenges?

Whether you are active in the field, interested in becoming more involved or unsure of your place in the struggle for social justice, you are not alone. Many people who are in-tune with the pains and injustices of the world face periods of doubt, confusion, disappointment, grief, hopelessness and burnout. It can be incredibly disheartening to feel as though the world is full of suffering and there is little you can do. You might even be experiencing an existential crisis and wondering what the point of even trying is.
People who are highly empathic and pay a great deal of attention to what is going on in the world often take on the pain of others. They often feel very connected to the vastness of human experience rather than focused on their own lives. This outpouring of empathy and concern often draws people toward activism. However, sometimes the responsibilities that come with a career and a family also make people feel torn between seemingly conflicting values. And some put a career and a family on hold in order to dedicate themselves to the cause, but become so disheartened that they wonder if they made the right choice. It is very common to feel as though there is no right choice and to fall into hopelessness and despair.
The questions and challenges you’re facing are also likely affected by your identity. If you identify with the group whose rights you are fighting for, you may feel utterly exhausted by the hatred and aggression that society throws your way. You might also be weary of the microaggressions that come from even the most well-meaning allies. Or, if you identify as an ally, it is very common wonder about appropriate language and behavior at protests, meetings or online, and worry that your questions sound ignorant or offensive.
Regardless of your current questions or concerns about social justice, it can be distressing to feel as though others don’t understand what you are going through. Thankfully, you can work with a therapist who is in tune with both the complications of activism and the possibilities of radical therapy.
Social Justice Counseling Can Help You Nurture Your Values
Radical Therapy comes out of the premise that People Are Good. It validates people’s lived experience that oppression impacts their mental health and well-being. This type of therapy can especially support activists effectively explore their feelings of alienation, despair and rage in the face of oppression. Although the world can be a distressing and seemingly broken place, radical therapists also believe that human beings are inherently good. As a therapist who specializes in identity and social justice counseling, I believe in the goodness within people, along with the deep interconnectedness of humanity. In sessions, you can speak openly and honestly to me about your complex thoughts and feelings surrounding activism and social justice. I will never judge you or blame you. Instead, you can find a safe, comforting place to renew your energy and rediscover productive empathy for yourself and others.
In social justice counseling sessions, I can help you to dig deep and better understand the personal, internal motivations that have drawn you to a cause. We can discuss the ways in which injustice impacts your life and the lives of others. I offer support and guidance as you identify and express your values and explore how you can balance seemingly conflicting values, such as in-the-field activism and a full-time career. Together, we will explore your needs, wants and your ideal vocation – your true calling – so you can begin to live life in service of your values. And, if you are in a position that does not allow you to be the activist you want to be, I will help you discover other channels of participation while learning to develop greater self-compassion and let go of self-blame.
Social justice counseling is a place for you to express the thoughts and feelings that you feel afraid to share elsewhere, including prejudices that you can’t quite shake. For example, if you feel that you have to wear the face of a strong leader, you can be vulnerable with me. If you are an ally who feels confused, we can discuss the questions or fears that you have. If your social justice work has left you deeply scarred and grieving, you can rediscover healing and hope. No matter what you are going through, in sessions, you can be your complete self.
Basic human kindness can be an incredibly healing thing. Through counseling, you can return to a place that allows you to see the people around you as just that – people. It is important that you treat yourself as a human being as well. You deserve rest, self-love and a safe place to be yourself.

You may believe that social justice counseling can help you clarify your values and recharge, but still have questions or concerns…

It’s selfish for me to take this time for myself. Social justice counseling won’t help my cause.

So many people who are drawn to activism feel compelled to be as selfless as possible. It can seem challenging to justify taking care of yourself when there is so much to be done. However, the better you take care of yourself, the more sustainable and effective your activism can be. If you don’t take time to check in and recharge, you are likely to become burned-out, depressed and defeated. By taking time to discuss your challenges and heal old wounds, you can boost your resiliency and feel more equipped to take a stand against oppression.

I can’t afford counseling.

I understand this concern, especially for people who spend most of their time volunteering or participating in social movements. I offer sliding-scale options for people who are facing financial struggles but still need the support of a skilled therapist. I can also help connect you to free resources in your community. In addition, I invite you to think about counseling as an investment in your future. Your long-term well-being is important, and therapy can help you develop the empathy and care you need to thrive in challenging times.

I struggle with my class privilege and worry about judgement.

No matter who you are or where you come from, I will not judge you for it. However, if this concern rings true to you, it sounds like you are already judging yourself. It takes a lot of strength and self-awareness to be able to acknowledge your privilege and hold yourself accountable to the areas in which you may need to learn and grow. However, there is no need to blame yourself or think of your situation with contempt. As someone concerned with injustice, you have opportunities to put your privilege to productive use. Social justice counseling is spiritual work, and my goal is to offer you a safe space to nurture your connection with humanity as a whole. In addition, working with people who can afford to pay more helps me offer services to more people who cannot.

If you need someone to talk to about oppression, identity and activism, I invite you to call me at (720) 429-3047 to set up a free in-person consultation. I am happy to answer any questions you have about social justice counseling and my practice.

© 2017 Open Forest Counseling. Powered by WordPress. Theme by Viva Themes.