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

Being a woman of color and an elder I have had my share of cultural & systemic oppression throughout my life. Working with culturally and racially diverse individuals I have learned so much about cultures from other countries that are severely oppressed. What I don't know about you I will not assume, but will ask you to describe how your specific culture, or racial identity has affected you. If you're an elder, a person of color, or trying to break through that glass ceiling, you are welcome.

— Rev Dr Sandy Range, Counselor in Stoughton, MA

My academic work has focused on studying racial microaggressions and how people of color cope with them. Like any form of stress, microagressions put us in a state of "fight or flight," and when we get overwhelmed, we freeze. Being exposed to them repeatedly makes it hard to think, do your job, or even enjoy your relationships. Eventually, you find yourself either getting more irritable and confrontational, or more withdrawn and internalize your feelings. Without having some coping skills, you start to burn out. As somebody who not only studies this, but lives it, I know how frustrating and overwhelming it is to cope with microaggressions day to day. Using culturally-adapted, evidence-based tools for managing distress, I'll help you use your discernment to do what is needed in the moment--whether that's confronting someone skillfully, or practicing self-care to prevent burning out. Because while we're all in this struggle, we also deserve to pull back, and take care of ourselves.

— Daniel Gaztambide, Psychologist in New York, NY

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

As a woman of color, I am particularly honored to work with other POC, LGBTQ, religious minorities, and other marginalized communities. I specialize in working with oppression of all forms (race-, gender-, sexual orientation-, religion-based), internalized oppression, and its effects (anxiety, depression, body image/eating concerns, relationship issues, etc.). I am committed to see you fully for who you are and to bear witness to your narrative.

— Lina Pranata, Psychologist 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

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. I specifically have experience working with those who identify as LGBTQ+, people of color, or second-generation Americans.

— Saira Malhotra, Therapist in Greenwood Village, CO

Intersecting systems of oppression broadly and uniquely impact us all. They are at the root of much of our suffering and disconnection from each other. While systemic change is beyond the scope of therapy, therapy can help to heal from the trauma of oppression, to reduce internalized oppression, to shift your participation in systems of oppression, and to support you in any work you are doing to fight oppression.

— Colette Gordon, Counselor in Portland, OR

As a multiethnic therapist who grew up in a multilingual home, I have both personal and professional experience in supporting clients who experience cultural and systemic oppression. Being witness to cultural and systemic oppression from an early age, has helped shape the work that I do as a counselor and is the reason why I sought specific trainings and internships when becoming licensed.

— Daniela Paolone, Marriage & Family Therapist in Westlake Village, CA

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

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

Therapy is inherently political, and I want to be an ally. Let’s deconstruct and dismantle these system together.

— Angela Doss, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in Los Angeles, CA

I am so happy that we are finally naming the issue instead of silencing, erasing, gaslighting, pathologizing or criminalizing those who are at the effect of it. The ways in which the violence manifests in people's lives can take many forms. And the symptoms can resemble other issues. But if we cannot differentiate cause from response, we will not be able to effectively engage or heal.

— Lisa Ndejuru, Psychotherapist in Montreal,

I have honed my specialty in working with marginalized folks through years of clinical trainings and experience, leading cultural dialogue groups, teaching and leading workshops on social justice topics, and participating in white privilege self-exploration groups

— Lindsey Brooks, 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 Greenwood Village, CO

Over a period of 19 years I worked closely with parents in the child welfare system (or therapeutically) who were separated from their children. I have also provided therapy to adults who endured being oppressed based on being a female or based on their cultural beliefs. My goal is to support you therapeutically, regain your confidence and develop healthy coping mechanisms.

— Bethanie Milford, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in New York, NY

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

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

I have research and clinical training in issues of race and gender. Specifically, my work centers around racial identity development and the impact of system racism. Likewise, I am very interested in the ways gender and sexuality shape individuals.

— Benjamin Neale, Clinical Psychologist in Colorado Springs, CO

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

My work is based on anti-capitalist and anti-oppressive values and view oppression as trauma. I've worked with people experiencing oppression related to gender identity, class, race, sexual orientation, immigration status, and ability. I've worked with people experiencing trauma from incarceration and I am opposed to prisons. I also use peer accountability models and theories of whiteness and masculinity to address harmful or problematic behaviors related to social privilege.

— Juliet Anderson, Associate Clinical Social Worker in Ridgewood, NY

In order to assist individuals in understanding the roots of their concerns, taking an intersectional approach is key to proving a safe environment for people to explore the various dynamics in their lives. Cultural and systemic oppression directly affects how we "show up" for ourselves and others. Understanding the historical and present day ramifications of cultural and systemic oppression helps to give voice to the parts of your story that may never get told.

— Jennifer Minor, Licensed Professional Counselor in Austin, TX

Oppression is trauma. And therapy is inherently political. When we therapists are unaware of our various powers and privileges, we risk further oppressing and traumatizing those whom we seek to support. I strive to be better than that. I want to be an ally, in whatever way YOU define it. Let’s deconstruct and dismantle these system together.

— Angela Doss, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in Los Angeles, CA

As a "double minority" navigating the complexities of racial dynamics in America, I have firsthand insight into how minority stress can impact one's mental health.

— Jin S. Kim, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Los Angeles, CA

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