Cultural and Systemic Oppression

The term cultural and systemic oppression refers to the mistreatment of people of a specific group that is supported and enforced by society and its institutions. It can be formal or implicit, and appears in many forms, including racism and sexism. Oppression of any kind, especially over an extended period of time, can deeply affect your mental health and your sense of self. Working with a therapist who is well-versed in these constructs can help you better recognize when they are influencing your life, and how to better manage that influence. Reach out to one of TherapyDen’s cultural and systemic oppression specialists today.

Meet the specialists

Are you seeking to heal the wounds of tension, anxiety, depression or chronic challenges, that relate to experiences of injustice or oppression in your life? As a therapist, I support you in finding your path to empowerment through deeper knowledge of yourself, and also (re)establishing those resources or capacities to heal from trauma, find your voice and self-agency, and navigate the triggers of the past and present. I bring support to you through extensive study of somatic psychotherapy approaches to shift patterns imprints of embodied oppression in mind and body, including sensorimotor psychotherapy and touch therapies for trauma healing. My graduate studies focused on cross cultural and social justice informed somatic healing. I also have a focus on supporting you to transform patterns of scapegoating and marginalization, both in family roles and societal roles, with extensive study of group dynamics.

— Eveline Wu, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Oakland, CA

Unfortunately, we are living in a racist pandemic. There are mental health consequences associated with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and somatic issues. The stress caused by not feeling that you belong can contribute to the development of identity issues. Healing may take place by acknowledging your experience and bringing forth your sense of agency and unique identity.

— Nadia Thalji, Ph.D, Psychotherapist in San Francisco, CA

It is so important for counseling to honor your cultural experience and values, in addition to being evidence-based. Together, we'll make a plan for healing that is unique to you, based on your cultural values and/or cultural heritage.

— Liz Adcock, Counselor in Atlanta, GA

As intersectional beings, intersecting cultures and systems of oppressions influence our experience incessantly.

— Jean-Arellia Tolentino, Ph.D., Post-Doctoral Fellow in Walnut Creek, CA

Personal empowerment is inseparable from transformative sociopolitical change. This conviction infuses all that I do, including my psychotherapy approach. Since 2016, I have offered workshops and courses on Racism, Diversity, and Psychoanalysis. I also have years of experience as a grassroots environmental and social justice community organizer.

— Aleisa Myles, Psychologist in Philadelphia, PA

As intersectional beings, intersecting systems of oppressions influence our experience incessantly. With the ever expanding technological and historic globalization, the oppression we face daily may even feel overwhelmingly debilitating. It's no wonder that many of us are experiencing burnout, insecurities, and overall disconnection in relationships. My approach to therapy values your insectional experience and how these systems influence your life, so that you can heal and engage differently.

— Jean-Arellia Tolentino, Ph.D., Post-Doctoral Fellow in Walnut Creek, CA

As an ethnic minority who studies cultural oppression, I am a social justice advocate and support anti-racist movements including Black Lives Matter.

— Kristen Lipari, Psychologist in San Diego, CA

I have experience in working with different cultural backgrounds. I make efforts to attend training that help deepen my cultural competence. I continue to seek understanding when it comes to the systemic impacts that occur with minorities. I find that this helps me identify, address, and offer support to my clients and their situations.

— Ana DeSantiago, Clinical Social Worker in Berwyn, IL

Over twenty years ago, I chose to get my degree in Social Work because the code of ethics spells out social justice as a core tenet of our practice. I believe that our identities affect our lived experiences and those dynamics need to be integrated into any healing process.

— Carrie Heron, Associate Clinical Social Worker in Seattle, WA

Psychological theories and practices have historically perpetuated the cultural and systemic oppression of marginalized identities. Using the best of psychoanalytic and somatic modalities, I offer a safe space to challenge these inherited stories to support your growing into an identity that is truly authentic to who you are.

— Camillia Thompson, Licensed Professional Counselor in PORTLAND, OR

Clinically, I work from a holistic, relational, empowerment focused and intersectional feminist perspective. I recognize that areas of oppression are linked and cumulative. In response, I work to help clients navigate these complex dynamics and improve their quality of life. As a cis-white, able-bodied female, it is my job to do the background work and create a space where clients can explore, learn and understand themselves better. You are the expert of your life.

— Olivia Carollo, Clinical Psychologist in Chicago, IL

Recent events show the result of anxiety, frustration, and anger arising from systemic oppression. If you experienced being controlled by someone or a system with power, anxiety and anger builds over time. Oppression trauma requires treatment begins with understanding how these systems have worked together to control. Therapy will then help a person to cope and develop skills to reduce the effects of social trauma. I have taught and have published on social oppression.

— Dwain Pellebon, Clinical Social Worker in Norman, OK

I am a Chinese American with immigrant parents--I have lived with a bicultural identity all my life. I am well-versed in navigating conversations about white supremacy and the resulting oppression, discrimination, and alienation it has created for people of color. I am also passionate about dismantling hetero- and cis-normative frameworks. These are not topics we have to shy away from in our work together. I will work with you to claim space for yourself and build your own narrative.

— Laurel Meng, Psychotherapist in Chicago, IL

My dissertation investigated body image across diverse populations including WOC. In particular I am interested in how WOC use their bodies as a commodity in order to compensate for systemic-level oppression and white-cis-heteronormative dynamics. Clinically, I work from a holistic, relational, empowerment focused and intersectional feminist perspective. I recognize that areas of oppression are linked and cumulative. I strive to use my privileges to help others create clarity and

— Olivia Carollo, Clinical Psychologist in Chicago, IL

Exploring topics of racism, discrimination, colorism, internalized oppression, migration stories, and resilience as it relates to family of origin, culture of origin, and personal identity. Of particular interest in working with those who self-identify as Southeast Asian.

— Canh Tran, Associate Clinical Social Worker in Seattle, WA

I believe that how we navigate life is extricably linked to our cultural identities and how those identities get storied in the world. The ever-increasing hostility in the world towards those who identify as "other," along with my first-hand experience with systemic oppression, have strengthened my resolve to provide support for clients to grapple with their complexities within a safe therapeutic context.

— Loree Johnson, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Hermosa Beach, CA

Let's be conscious of how “mental health” is constructed in society and how expectations around wellness impact us as we hold subordinated and privileged identities. Systemic oppression hurts the accessibility and effectiveness of mental health services. Minority stress processes, internalized oppression, stereotype threat, implicit bias, rejection, concealing, and hatred and affect our coping and mental health. Understanding this can help us take back power in our lives and fight for change.

— Marissa Lee, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Los Angeles, CA

I have made it my mission to assist with calling out cultural and systemic oppression and working to help dismantle it. I work to help my clients do the same and navigate against the trauma of cultural and systemic oppression.

— Kadesha Adelakun, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Kennesaw, GA

In addition to my lived experiences as a Woman of Color, I have 10 years of experience in Higher Education as a leader in committees, training development, and presentations related to diversity and inclusion. I partner my expertise in Diversity and Inclusion and Mental Health to provide therapeutic care that challenges and deconstructs internalized oppression, impostor-syndrome, stereotype-threat, and racial trauma.

— DeHeavalyn Pullium, Counselor in Seattle, WA

Being an Asian female, I can say I have experienced cultural and systemic oppression, which leads me the privilege to sit with you when you share your pain and anger. Racial trauma is real and for those that experience it, it

— Thavone Huinil, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Grand Rapids, MI

My professional career has always involved helping people navigate systematic and cultural pressures and oppression to better care for themselves. In working with people who have lived with lower incomes and in marginalized positions in society, I quickly became interested in facilitating the healing of trauma (systemic and personal) and the reintegration of a whole and complete self.

— Jasmine Dunckel, Marriage & Family Therapist in San Francisco, CA

As a therapist of color, my sensitivity to the increasingly volatile political and socio-cultural environment in the U.S. and around the world has come with its own struggles. Your experiences and challenges will be as unique to you as mine are to me. Working from a place of understanding my own privilege and marginalization, I humbly strive to create a safe place to explore your unique needs and challenges in facing the impact of macro- and micro-aggressions.

— Hilda Lopez, Associate Professional Clinical Counselor in Berkeley, CA

Being a marginalized woman in a world designed for straight, cisgender white men isn't just frustrating. It's actively harmful to our health & well-being. As a therapist, I believe that we can't help our clients manage concerns like depression, anxiety, stress or burnout without attending to the role of systemic oppression and the trauma it creates. I work with women of color, immigrants, LGBTQ+ womxn, and other marginalized folks to provide a space for healing, recovery and growth.

— Maya Borgueta, Psychologist in San Francisco, CA

An understanding of cultural and systemic oppression is centered in my practice as an insideous and ongoing trauma that many of us experience in one way or another. I use the framework from Nieto's Beyond Inclusion, Beyond Empowerment to discuss this with clients and keep an eye on my own places of privilege and targetship and how they may intersect in our work together. I aim for my practice to be an Intersectional, Multi-Culturally Affirming, Trauma-Informed therapy space.

— Jessica Joy, Mental Health Counselor in New Paltz, NY

In my undergraduate studies, I specialized in the American Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s. During this time, I studied theories of non-violent action, the intricate works of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and completed two tours of the American South, to immerse myself in the study of the Civil Rights Movement. During that time, I also began my own anti-racism work to heal the racism that I have internalized, as a white person in the U.S. After coming out, at age 21, I began to focus my studies on the harm of homophobia, perpetrated by religion. I completed both an undergraduate and graduate thesis on LGBTQ issues in the Mennonite Church. I believe it is important to recognize that my clients exist within a culture and that this absolutely influences their psychology. Systems of oppression hurt all of us and I am passionate about working with clients who are wanting to free themselves (and others) from oppression.

— Addie Liechty, Clinical Social Worker in Oakland, CA

Facing daily sociocultural pressures can be incredibly painful. Regardless of what brought them to therapy, many of my patients have a social identity that has impacted their mental health in some way. My goal is to help you harness resources, both in your environment and within yourself, that can help you navigate persistent and oppressive social forces. No matter how you identify, my door is always open.

— Saira Malhotra, Therapist in Greenwood Village, CO

This specific focus allows us to frame your life and experience by including the greater forces of oppression at work in the world, such as patriarchy, racism, sexism, or homophobia. In today's political climate especially, it is important to me to offer a safe(r) space in which to consider the impact of cultural trauma and oppression.

— Pilar Dellano, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in San Francisco, CA