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.

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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 Media, PA

I am a liberation-based healer who practices at the intersection of oppression and trauma. I approach my work with the support of my ancestors, my longing (and willingness to work) for a decolonized world, my gift of reaching for that very real possibility of healing and breathing life into it. I have an intractable knowingness that our imagination, creativity and visionary souls guide us toward healing. That our bodies and hearts are strong enough to hold this.

— horizon greene, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Seattle, WA

"Power-over" tricks like racism, patriarchy, and able-ism oppress, dis-empower, and silence human beings. These tricks are everywhere: in our language, religion, businesses, non-profits, even in families. Even in our own minds. Both the obvious and the subtle manifestations cause harm, especially when they happen repeatedly. A "power-with" way of thinking supports equality, respect, cooperation, and empowerment. Talking about oppression can help relieve shame and increase support.

— Carlyle Stewart, Counselor in Asheville, NC

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+ clients, and other marginalized folks to provide a space for healing, recovery and growth.

— Maya Borgueta, Psychologist in San Francisco, 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 Denver, CO

I believe that being targeted for cultural and systemic oppression can create or amplify experiences of trauma, depression, and anxiety. I believe that intersectional oppression can amplify this more. My approach to therapy includes looking at a client's cultural identities and including these perspectives in addressing any presenting therapeutic concerns. It is important to me to listen to a client's experience of these identities, and provide empathy, support, and strategizing as needed.

— Caera Gramore, Mental Health Practitioner in Arlington, WA

I consider myself a strong activist and work hard to understand how issues of oppression impact the problems presented in therapy. I understand how racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and any form of bigotry both on an institutional level and personal level, create huge amounts of stress in different populations. I taught for over a decade in a masters level course around understanding issues of oppression and internal biases and how they impact therapy.

— Deann Acton, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Austin, TX

I am an HIV positive single mother of an adult child with a significant developmental disability - I have a deep understanding of systemic oppression and the impacts it can have on your well-being. In addition, I have a close relationship with poverty and have spent 16 years working with underserved and marginalized populations. Prior to entering private practice, I worked with individuals living in permanent supportive housing.

— Kelly Hill, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Seattle, WA

Our therapists believe in addressing the global contexts that impact us and our clients.

— CoTenacious Therapy, Therapist in , MD

The assumptions of Western psychology focus primarily on factors within the individual. However, for many individuals, the source of their suffering emerges from oppressive forces within their social environment. Therapy needs to be able to offer alternatives to adjusting to or coping with oppressive forces. I utilize liberatory strategies to empower clients experiencing marginalization, alienation, and other forms of oppression.

— Louis Hoffman, Psychologist in Colorado Springs, CO

I offer a space to safely discuss your lived experience of systemic racism and oppression. We will work to repair and heal from this trauma and also learn to navigate it going forward.

— Clara Chestnut, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Rochester, NY

Humans are brilliant learners, absorbing messages from our environments — families, society, culture — these external influences shape our identities based on creed, gender, colour, etc., which then shape our realities. Knowing who we are requires understanding these influences, and how it has influenced our lenses and behaviours. Only then, can we be empowered to feel in control of our lives.

— I-Ching Grace Hung, Psychologist in San Francisco, CA

I chose to complete my studies in Social Work, specifically to study systems of oppression in our society, with a strong focus on religious systems of oppression. I am well-versed in religious systems of oppression, but this understanding translates to any hierarchical system: racism, workplace discrimination, family systems of oppression, interpersonal oppression (abuse and neglect), and financial oppression (capitalism). Where you have humans in societies together, there is always risk.

— Julia Krump, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Nashville, TN

My practice is comprised exclusively of BIPOC adults. Given this, much of the healing work we do together takes a "person in environment" approach where we are not only discussing their individual lives but also inviting considerations of how the identities they hold are impacted by the larger social-cultural context. We also bring in considerations of how intergenerational trauma is impacted through cultural and systemic oppression.

— Blessing Uchendu, Clinical Social Worker

Living in this world can take a toll on your sense of self, your self love, and your self-esteem. In our work together, I seek to understand the forms of oppression that have impacted you most so that we can start to unlearn the harmful systemic messaging that has taken away some of your sense of self-wonder and (re)introduce you to your own majesty.

— Sam Krehel, Mental Health Counselor in , WA

I have worked in and adjacent to the activist community in Chicago and am familiar with the was that systemic oppression impacts cultures of the global majority. I work to affirm my clients, help to repair their racial stress/traumatic memories and organize their strategies for managing the structural oppression they have and may continue to face and experience.

— Shelly Quiles, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Chicago, IL

Systemic oppression, be it racist, patriarchal, or cultural, can have a strong and negative impact on your life, mental health and sense of self. As a Latina Therapist who myself have experienced the negative impacts, my goal is to help POC heal wounds from internalized oppression and systemic inequality.

— Valeska Cosci, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Venice, CA

Research shows that the impacts of discrimination and marginalization can manifest in both mental and physical health. I strive to take into account factors related to culture, context, privilege and marginalization, as we explore therapeutic concerns.

— Dr. Luana Bessa, Psychologist in Boston, MA