Hello everyone! I hope this email meets you well. For those of you who have been subscribers since day one, you know how September goes. For those who are sort of new, or unfamiliar with my September tradition, let me fill you in. September is the month that I launched my very first newsletter. It was September 16, 2016 to be exact. I often talk about how scared I was to do this, being that I know no other way to be but myself, and how that may be reflected in my writings. Now, looking back 3 years ago (wwwwwwoooooowwwwwwww look at God), I have a trend each September. Since September is the anniversary month for my newsletters, I often drop something new and exciting with my business in relation to cultural awareness. Year one I introduced my YouTube channel. Year two I introduced my newsletter books. So what am I introducing this year? Hang tight, two things are revealed somewhere in this newsletter so keep reading to find the hidden jewels. But first. . .
As usual I want to thank all of my subscribers. Seriously from the bottom of my heart I say thank you. This was a big leap for me to do 3 years ago, and I couldn't do it if I didn't have so many of you to write to. I don't care if you have been reading my newsletters for 3 years, have been subscribed for a few months, or just clicked the subscription button and this is your first newsletter, THANK YOU!!! I appreciate all of you supporting me with emails of encouragement, emails thanking me for writing certain topics, and even the emails (or conversations) slightly nudging me to write about a particular topic. I thank you all! I feel so blessed to have so many of you interested in my writing, interested to the point that you share my newsletters with others. Speaking of which, I have added a "share with a friend" button at the bottom of each newsletter, this will help you not accidently unsubscribe yourself when you share my newsletters. Don't worry if you are accidently unsubscribed, you should get an email asking if this was a mistake, so keep sharing. . . I appreciate it. And no, that's not the reveal (keep reading they won't be hard to miss). Anyway, now that the thank you's are out of the way. Let's get into today's topic.
The title for this month is "I do it for the culture!" This is all I could think of today when I thought about why I am so inclined to write my newsletters. It is something that I have never missed doing in 3 years (with the exception of my computer crashing last year). I have often wondered what makes me so motivated to write continually and to give it my all. And the truth of the matter is I do it for the culture. For MY culture. I'm so passionate to educate others about working with people of color, particularly the Black community, nothing can seem to get in my way (not even the birth of my little blessing). I am so driven to share certain thoughts in a way that hopefully lands and sticks. I am committed to writing monthly, even if it is late sometimes. I have a passion for sharing my thoughts with you all. I want to look deeply into your soul through my writings. I want to share with you the cultural perspective of a Black woman, what my cultural eyes see (thus the above picture).
With that said, today I'm expanding on something I do occasionally on Instagram. If you follow my Instagram (this is still not the reveal), you know that my passion transcends there too and I occasionally will post what I call "Friday's Cultural Tip." This is where I make a statement that will hopefully educate the person who may see my post. These statements are really short rants that are a result of something I have experienced or witnessed. The cultural tip is basically a very short version of what will take place on my new podcast (Yup! This is ONE of the reveals!!! Check the cultural tidbit section for more info). So since you all are such ride or die subscribers, today I decided to do it for the culture and expand on those Instagram tips for you all. Hopefully you will find them helpful and can add this knowledge to your cultural toolbox.
Tip #1 - The therapeutic RELATIONSHIP is much more important to your Black client's than therapeutic rapport
I have often stressed this point in my past newsletters, but I can't stress it enough. Rapport is so different from a relationship. When looking at the definitions of rapport and relationship, the difference is clear. For giggles sake, here are the definitions. . .
A relationship is defined as:
The state of being related or interrelated, the relation connecting or binding participants in a relationship.
Rapport is defined as: A friendly, harmonious relationship, characterized by an agreement, mutual understanding, or empathy that makes communication possible or easy.
If you look closely at these definitions you will see that rapport is an "agreement, mutual understanding." Whereas a relationship is more along the lines of relating to, connecting to one another. When you make an "agreement" with someone and have a "mutual understanding," that becomes more like a business transaction, which is not always authentic. In my opinion, rapport is not authentic and a relationship is. Yes, there is a therapeutic agreement, but that doesn't mean your connection to the person has to be an agreement. Remember, rapport is taught, relationships are not.
Tip #2 - Saying you want to be culturally aware and BEHAVING in a culturally appropriate way are VERY different. Think about your actions and DO the work!
This tip is pretty self-explanatory. You really just need to ask yourself one question: Am I talking the talk or walking the walk? It's that simple. Many people claim they want to be culturally aware and conscious, but they are unconsciously behaving in culturally inappropriate ways. To help you out with this tip, I am not going to do a bunch of writing and explaining for you, instead I'm going to have you do the work. Take a look at some of the questions below and assess if you are behaving in a culturally appropriate way. And if you like this type of questioning and guiding as a way to help you increase your cultural awareness, you should look into my premium newsletter subscription (You guessed it! That's the second reveal, good job for getting this far. Check out the cultural tidbit for more about my premium subscription.) So here are the questions. . .
- Do you THINK about cultural issues in regards to the general society (i.e. political climate, racism, oppression, discrimination, immigration, etc.)?
- Do you engage in doing things on your own to increase your cultural awareness?
- Do you show more favor towards individuals who look like you?
- When seeing someone who does not look like you, do one (or more) stereotypes about that person's race cross your mind?
- When you are around people who look like you, if inappropriate cultural conversations/comments come up, do you speak up? Why or why not?
- When you are around people who DON'T look like you, if inappropriate cultural conversations/comments come up, do you speak up? Why or why not?
Tip #3 - Being your authentic self is the quickest way to make movement in session with your Black clients. Being REAL is important to us!
As I said in Tip #1, relationships are important and the key factor in a relationship is authenticity. You must be your authentic self when working with Black clients. This is the quickest way to make movement with us, because we can decipher very quickly if you are not being real. Don't try and pretend to be something you are not to "connect" with your Black clients. That is actually offensive to us. Black clients just want you to show up in the room as yourself, especially since you are asking them to show up in session as themselves. If you are white, from the country, and listen to country music, own that. If you are Black and grew up in the suburbs, own that.
Self-Disclosure is okay, it helps to strengthen the therapeutic relationship, thus helping you make movement with your client. You don't have to reveal your life story to a client, but if they ask you a simple personal question, it's okay to answer it. I mean you are asking your client a plethora of personal questions for 45 to 50 minutes. Think about it, if they want to know how your vacation was while you were off for a week, or if you're married. I think it's okay to lightly answer their question, as opposed to the blanket "what would it mean to you if I . . ." Bringing me to my final tip for today.
Tip #4 - Blanket therapeutic statements that you learned in grad school and your internship is the quickest way to turn your Black clients off from therapy. Real responses go a LONG WAY!!!
I recently went to a postpartum support group for new moms. I mean let's face it, although having a baby is a blessing, being a new mom is hard for anyone. . . including therapist. So I figured, the best way to get some support with being a new mom was to go to a support group. As I sat in the group and listened to the women share their experiences as a new mom, I noticed a trend taking place from the two therapist facilitating the group:
"It's so great that you made it to group today."
"I hear that's tough, but you made it to group today."
"Wow, you're dealing with a lot, but you made it to group today."
This was their response to all of us. I found this extremely frustrating because it was clearly a blanket response/technique they were giving all of us. Now, for the therapist reading, I am not saying to not praise your client. Praise can go a very long way, if you include customized validation. By that I mean, don't just say the simple "that sounds tough" or "you are dealing with so much." No, no, and NO!!! Please, and I repeat, please validate your client's actual experience. Name what they are going through, and add some of YOUR emotion to what you are validating. This can help them feel as though they are not alone in the difficulty of their experiences. Name specific things they are saying to you. Take reflective listening to the highest level you can. And then praise your client.
Make sure your responses to your clients are genuine and real. Of course we all use therapeutic techniques, but make sure you tailor the technique to fit the needs of your clients. The cultural needs your client, not the cultural needs of therapy. Remember, therapeutic techniques are rooted in the European way of thinking and being, and this doesn't work for a majority of clients, including White ones. Until October. . .