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The Clinical is Cultural, The Cultural is Clinical: Black Women Depth Psychologists on the Evolution of Clinical Practice


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Presented by Sharon D. Johnson, Ph.D.; Sherrie Sims Allen, Ph.D.; Marcella De Veaux, Ph.D.; Kim Howell, Ph.D.; Patricia Taylor, Ph.D. on Saturday, October 31, 2020; 10:00 am-1:00 Pacific Time.

Psychotherapist Philip Cushman’s text, Constructing the Self, Constructing America: A Cultural History of Psychotherapy, sought to highlight the social-cultural placement of clinical practice in the United States, yet it overlooked the ubiquitous presence of anti-Black racism and oppression since the nation’s inception and the bias toward Eurocentric clinical practice. The National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine contains numerous research articles about Black citizens’ distrust of medical interactions including clinical mental health services. This seminar will focus on the work of five African American depth psychologists as introduced in the book, Seeing in the Dark: Wisdom Works by Black Women in Depth Psychology, why it disrupts a hegemony and hierarchy that privileges clinical work above cultural work, how it addresses the void left by clinical work that excludes specific cultural knowledge and experience of non-clinical Black women psychologists, and how greater inclusion of this work can help the evolution of clinical practice today.

Learning objectives:

  • Identify and describe racial biases and how these affect clinical training and practice.
  • Identify and describe areas of clinical practice where specific cultural knowledge is presumed or lacking.
  • Give examples of Black non-clinical practices that have been appropriated and institutionalized into clinical settings.
  • Compare cases where Black non-clinical practitioners have more effectively met patients’ needs than clinicians.

Sharon D. Johnson, Ph.D. is a screenwriter and dream educator who has lectured on the topic at UCLA’s OLLI program and the critically noted community organization, Black Women for Wellness. She presented her original research, Sisters of Sakhu: Does Dream Work Affect Black Women’s Mental Well-Being, at the Association for Women in Psychology’s (AWP) 50th-anniversary conference in 2019. She is a consultant to the award-winning organization, Alchemy, Inc. Her chapter, “Conscious Daughters: Psychological Migration, Individuation, and the Declaration of Black Female Identity in Daughters of the Dust” is included in the forthcoming anthology, Teaching Daughters of the Dust as a Womanist Film and the Black Arts Aesthetic of Filmmaker Julie Dash (Peter Lang).

Sherrie Sims Allen, Ph.D. is a practitioner of the Myers Briggs Topology Instrument (MBTI), which she and her husband, Dr. Melvin Allen, utilize in their nationally presented relationship seminars and workshops for couples and singles. Her approach affirms that when relationships work, families work; when families work, communities work, and when communities work, the world works. Her work focuses on exploring the cultural wounds of racism, sexism, feelings of invisibility, and women and rage. She has made presentations at both the Society of Humanistic Psychology and the Jungian Society for Scholarly Studies conferences.

Marcella “Marcy” De Veaux, Ph.D. is Associate Director of Faculty Development and a tenured Professor for the Department of Journalism at California State University, Northridge, where her work includes facilitating workshops on unconscious bias, diversity, equity, inclusion, and cultural competencies. She also has decades of experience in entertainment public relations, diversity best practices, and coaching. Her work appears in the publications Imaginative Inquiry: Innovative Approaches to Interdisciplinary Research and the forthcoming Teaching Daughters of the Dust as a Womanist Film and the Black Arts Aesthetic of Filmmaker Julie Dash (Peter Lang). She co-edited Pacifica Graduate Institute: An Alumni Tribute to 40 Years of Tending Soul in and of the World.

Kimberly Howell, Ph.D. is a body positive activist and diversity educator who uses mindfulness techniques with both individual and corporate clients. Her doctoral dissertation entitled, Peek-A- Boo! I See You: Capturing the Story and Image of Invisible Beauty in Los Angeles highlights the celebrity culture of Los Angeles and how place affects both psyche and soma. Dr. Howell has spoken internationally on topics such as feminist consumerism as well as engaging depth psychological practices in corporate learning environments.

Patricia Taylor, Ph.D. is the Chairperson for Special Education Programs in the LaFetra College of Education at the University of LaVerne, as well as founder and Co-Chair of the university’s Center for Neurodiversity, Learning, and Wellness. Her work centers assisting learners who learn in atypical ways to find their ways of knowing and learning first by acknowledging their unique gifts and then by figuring out how to honor and share those gifts. This work has led her to the unveiling of the original meaning of the idea of enough in the western lexicon, and to a deep appreciation of what she calls word stories and how words, as Michael Meade states, are merely condensed stories waiting to be told.