Tag Archives: diversity

#NotMyPresident – Anti-Racism Activism Under a Trump Presidency

Open Letter to Graduate Students in Psychology:

Protesters hold signs during a protest against the election of President-elect Donald Trump, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, in downtown Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Protesters hold signs during a protest against the election of President-elect Donald Trump, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, in downtown Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

On November 9, 2016, we woke up to a new era in modern American politics. Not since the presidential campaign of pro-segregation proponent George Wallace in 1968 have racial and ethnic intolerance been expressed so openly and vehemently by a presidential candidate. Donald Trump called Mexican immigrants “rapists” and “drug dealers,” questioned the impartiality of federal judge Gonzalo Curiel due to his Mexican ancestry, and called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States. He also proclaimed that African-Americans and Latinos are “living in hell,” reinforcing negative stereotypes and ignoring the vibrancy that exists in both communities. Indeed, Donald Trump has a long history of racist remarks and attitudes. Trump also repeatedly made misogynistic statements that denigrated and demeaned women, and was caught boasting about sexual assault. Despite these infractions, Donald Trump became the President-Elect of the United States.

The work of activists is needed now more than ever. As is evident from the recent wave of hate crimes across the United States, bigots are emboldened as a result of Trump’s victory, and Black and Brown lives are at great risk. The APA Ethics Code calls on us to promote the welfare and protection of the individuals and groups with whom psychologists work. The code also calls on psychologists to “respect and protect the civil and human rights” of our clients. When the welfare of our clients is jeopardized by racial discrimination, we are called to stand up and seek justice on their behalf.

With this in mind, we are calling for a national dialogue titled “#NotMyPresident – Anti-Racism Activism Under a Trump Presidency,” to take place at 5:00 p.m. CST on January 17, 2017.

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Living at the Intersection: Reflections on the Graduate Student Experience

Reflections of an Orthodox Jew: Entering the Real World

Guest columnist: Chaya Lieba Berger, BA, Long Island University Post

My name is Chaya Lieba Berger, and I am currently completing my first year at Long Island University Post’s Psy.D. program. I am also an Orthodox Jew.

From the moment I began graduate school, I was confronted by my religious identity. Having never before been in a school that was not specifically for Orthodox Jewish women, everything was a transition. Even my name was a challenge, as it is difficult for people who do not speak Hebrew to pronounce. I have noticed that when I introduce myself, people seem to not even hear the unfamiliar sounds, nodding politely before they erase the introduction from their minds. I have always been called by this name, and so adjusting has been an experience, and I am appreciative of my professors and classmates for the patience they have exhibited in learning it. I have also never before been in a co-ed school setting. It has been a challenge to feel comfortable discussing certain issues in a co-ed classroom, working on projects and presentations with male colleagues, and being open to becoming friends with the men in my program.

Recently, I was speaking with my mother about a non-Jewish organization I had been volunteering for and she laughed as I attempted to describe them with: “Oh, they’re normal. I mean they’re regular people. I mean they’re not religious.” When did become the other? When did the people I have spent most of my life surrounded by become different, irregular, and not normal? I am so grateful to be in a program that respects and accepts me as an observant Jew. At the same time, I have become, essentially for the first time in my experience, a minority. And being a minority can be a very “other-ing” experience. At times, the Hebrew and Yiddish expressions that are merely a part of my vocabulary remain stuck on my tongue as I search around for the appropriate English translation. At times, my experience of certain issues is swallowed by the experience of the majority. My world, a world with its very own dress code, its own music, and dating rules far different from my colleagues, has now become the “other” world.

I can say with certainty that this process, thus far, has been a learning experience. It has also, however, been a challenge, balancing my multiple identities as a student, an Orthodox Jew, a single woman, a psychological researcher, and soon, a clinician. I have come to realize that as much as one may try to separate one’s identities, it is simply unavoidable:

Wherever you go, every identity enters the room with you.

In my growth as a psychologist, I attempt to bring every part of myself with me. As I enter the real world, I am integrating an understanding of myself as the other, and I bring my other world with me.

Editor’s Note: This column is part of a series highlighting the experiences of students and professionals with diverse intersecting identities and was created by the APAGS Committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity and the Committee for the Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Diversity. Are you interested in sharing about your own navigation of intersecting identities in graduate school? We would be happy to hear from you! To learn more, please contact Heather Dade.

Check out previous posts in this series:

REPOST – Racial Trauma is Real: The Impact of Police Shootings on African Americans

Racial Trauma is Real: The Impact of Police Shootings on African Americans

From Psychology Benefits Society, a blog from the APA Public Interest Directorate • July 14, 2016 By By Erlanger A. Turner, PhD (Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of Houston-Downtown) & Jasmine Richardson

Note: An earlier version of this blog was published on BlackDoctor.org

There have been many changes within the criminal justice system as a means to deter crime and to keep citizens safe. However, research demonstrates that often times men of color are treated harshly which leads to negative perceptions of police officers. The recent shootings in Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights, and Dallas have exposed many individuals and their families to incidents of police brutality that reminds us that as a society work needs to be done to improve police and community relations.

In light of these recent events, many people have witnessed these traumatic incidents through social media or participation in marches in their cities. The violence witnessed towards people of color from police continues to damage perceptions of law enforcement and further stereotype people of color negatively. In a study published in the American Journal of Public Health (Geller, Fagan, Tyler, & Link, 2014), the authors reported that 85% of the participants reported being stopped at least once in their lifetime and 78% had no history of criminal activity. What is more concerning is that the study also found that those who reported more intrusive police contact experienced increased trauma and anxiety symptoms. Furthermore, those who reported fair treatment during encounters with law enforcement had fewer symptoms of PTSD and anxiety.

Read the full article.

International Students and Clinical Work: Overcoming Challenges

MPj04383850000[1]As a part of their graduate coursework, all students in the applied psychology fields (clinical, counseling, and school psychology) are required to obtain clinical training. International students in these graduate programs often experience unique challenges in their training to become mental health professionals. In addition to problems typically experienced by their domestic counterparts, they face unique challenges such as adjusting to a new culture and, for many, learning to conduct therapy in a new language (Mittal & Wieling, 2006). These language and cultural barriers affect more than just the academic, counseling, and supervision experiences of these trainees; they take a toll on stress-levels, health, and well-being (Nilsson, 2007).

Although international students face several challenges on their clinical work when compared to U.S.-domestic counterparts, they can provide a unique perspective that might help them provide more culturally sensitive counseling. It is important to look at ways in which international trainees can be supported in developing their clinical skills and address their own needs and concerns. Here are some ways that international students can overcome challenges in clinical work:

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An Account of Invisible Disability in Graduate Psychology Training

“But you look so healthy, I’m sure you’ll be fine.”

You would never know that I have a disability from just looking at me. To most people, I appear to be healthy and well-adjusted for my age. Enrolled in a doctoral clinical program, doing well in my coursework, taking on extra curricular activities – from an objective viewpoint, it is easy to assume that I lead a similar life to most people my age in my situation. Yet the very fact that things seem normal is one of the most challenging aspects to an invisible disability. Unless I go out of my way to explain it, you would likely never know that I suffer from severe tinnitus and hyperacusis, or constant ringing in the ears and extreme sensitivity to sound.

“Oh I get tinnitus sometimes, too. You should just ignore it like I do.”

Although increasingly common, issues of tinnitus and hyperacusis are not widely understood, nor is there a clear way of measuring what makes someone’s condition severe (Blasing, Goebel, Flotzinger, Berthold, & Kroner-Herwig, 2010). Unlike hearing impairment, in which the limitations of hearing are objectively measured by a hearing test, the methods for measuring tinnitus are far more subjective. Therefore, people tend to measure tinnitus severity by the amount of stress that people who encounter it experience – tinnitus generally falls into the basic categories of bothersome and non-bothersome. For the bothersome type, there are several remedies with an evidence basis, including various audiological interventions that incorporate psychoeducational counseling (Chan, 2009).

Additionally, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) protocols have all been shown to alleviate tinnitus-related distress to varying degrees (Gans, Cole, & Greenberg, 2015; Hesser, Westin, Hayes, & Andersson, 2009). Yet once all of these have been attempted, and the person experiencing the tinnitus and hyperacusis is still not well, current available interventions have little else to offer. Having founded a support group in Palo Alto that is part of a national network and witnessing the pain and despair tinnitus can cause firsthand, I can personally attest to the widespread need for more effective treatments and interventions.

 “Sorry, but I can’t lower the music volume because the other customers want it turned up loud.”

The challenges I face with tinnitus and hyperacusis have impacted every area of my life. While providing me with a sense of mission to contribute to research and advocacy for individuals with my condition and other invisible disabilities, the path to get there has been thoroughly demanding and challenging. Simple things like riding on public transportation, food shopping, and being in noisy restaurants are all potentially painful situations for me. Urban environments are also dangerous, considering the regularity of emergency vehicle sirens, construction, car horns, loud motorcycles, and other frequent noise. At a more personal level, I have even had to tell people that their voice or laugh is too loud, and ask if they can speak more quietly when I am nearby. Frequently, my conditions become exacerbated if I do not have an opportunity to advocate for myself and explain to people the unusual nature of my sound sensitivity so that it may be accommodated.

“If the class gets too loud for you, you can just leave.”

While I am grateful to be engaged in a course of study that I am passionate about, it is a constant challenge to maintain an effective balance between self-care and productivity. Graduate level training in psychology is thoroughly demanding of a person’s physical and emotional resources, particularly considering clinical placements that may require long commutes on top of endless hours of coursework and research requirements. My condition results in frequent exhaustion and difficulty sleeping, with the symptoms often intensified resulting from stress and demands of graduate school. Excessive fatigue is common when someone experiences a disability (Olkin, 1999); by sheer requirement of rest alone, it takes more time to get the same amount of things done. In my case, many aspects of my training are limited and guided by my condition, starting from choosing a school that has parking access and adequate disability resources. Other aspects of the process are restrictive for me too, as clinical training placements involving families with small children and milieu settings with youth are frequently quite loud and therefore not compatible with my illness. Even socializing can be a challenge, as my condition is worsened from time spent in large groups of people in which many conversations are happening. I must rely on my professors, supervisors, and peers to understand and help when I need accommodations for my disability, and even when I must leave a potentially harmful situation for me.

“Oh come on, this can’t be too loud, we’re just having fun.”

Explaining this is frequently difficult. When it’s people’s lifetime experience that being in social situations is a good thing, and they display the best of intentions by wanting me to be there. It can be very hard to articulate how challenged I am by being in the places where people gather such as restaurants, parties, and bars. As such, I am left out of much social activity that I used to partake in and that used to be a resource for me – having a disability requires constant re-adaptation to life, and often in isolation from others.

Diversity factors among graduate students include all the varied forms in which disability manifests. While mobility issues obviously must be accounted for, greater awareness of other types of disabilities, including less visible, chronic disabilities such as endometriosis, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, brain injury, fibromyalgia, and other common conditions such as tinnitus and hyperacusis still require greater awareness among the general public. In this time when diversity is becoming an ever more present dimension of clinical proficiency, it is essential that training programs incorporate greater awareness of the potential impact of disability on people’s lives.

“Well, at least you don’t have a real disability.”

Despite the challenges my disability has put me through, it has been my experience that people truly want to help – even when they aren’t sure how. Yet sadly, often it is the case that when things become too challenging to attend to, it is a culturally consistent reaction to tend to look away. Many of the needs of people who experience limitations due to their disability may be solved by a very simple method – don’t be afraid to ask what it’s like for them, and how you may be able to help. Even just being recognized for dealing with the challenge of an invisible disability can be a huge relief.

About the Author:

Ben Greenberg is a fourth-year doctoral clinical psychology student at the American School of Professional Psychology at Argosy University, San Francisco. A former professional symphony French horn player, he played in the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Jerusalem Symphony, Hong Kong Philharmonic, and Cairo Opera Orchestra before leaving his career due to debilitating tinnitus and hyperacusis. He is currently a grant recipient of the American Tinnitus Association for his research in the impact of sound sensitivity in tinnitus, and lives in Oakland, CA.

 

References:

Blasing, L., Goebel, G., Flotzinger, U., Berthold, A., & Kroner-Herwig, B. (2010). Hypersensitivity to sound in tinnitus patients: An analysis of a construct based on questionnaire and audiological data. International Journal of Audiology, 49(7), 518-526. doi: 10.3109/14992021003724996

Chan, Y. (2009). Tinnitus: Etiology, classification, characteristics, and treatment. Discovery Medicine, 8(42), 133-136. Retrieved from: http://www.discoverymedicine.com/Yvonne-Chan

Gans, J., Cole, M., & Greenberg, B. (2015). Sustained Benefit of Mindfulness-Based Tinnitus Stress Reduction (MBTSR) in Adults with Chronic Tinnitus: a Pilot Study. Mindfulness. doi: 10.1007/s12671-015-0403-x

Hesser, H., Westin, V., Hayes, S. C., & Andersson, G. (2009). Clients’ in-session acceptance and cognitive defusion behaviors in acceptance-based treatment of tinnitus distress. Behavior Research and Therapy, 47(6), 523-528. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2009.02.002

Olkin, R. (1999). What psychotherapists should know about disability. New York: Guilford Press.