This article is hugely important… and it was life changing for me to be able to have a therapist who was political.
The reality is folks go to therapists for a multitude of reasons, but most all of them are either caused or exacerbated by power dynamics and systemic structures.
For example, grief counselling acknowledges the need to take the time to go through a grieving process without addressing why grieving is limited to specific time frames that feed in to normative beliefs around gendered labour, gendered emotional expectations, and capitalist productivity narratives…
A lot of counselling around abuse, sexuality, or identity are again very enmeshed with concepts of toxic masculinity and heteronormativity that cannot be separated from lived experiences.
Therapists dealing specifically with mental health disorders are often not acknowledging disability outside of a medical model in which one would also look to society to see how sometimes (in the words of Andrea Gibson) ‘it is no measure of good health to be well adjusted to a sick society…’ and how mental health diagnosis vastly change based on time periods, gender, and the therapists own biases.
All too often, therapist work to ’empower’ people without realizing that empowerment isn’t something that you can give to people… It isn’t a magic wand- it is something that comes when a person has the opportunity to name, recognize, and understand the structures they have had to navigate within- in order to be able to access their ability and capacity to resist them. It is when people can truly get to a place where they can acknowledge where the boundaries of their personal accountability are and where they aren’t.
It is about teaching people how to use tools to better cope in a world that only favours a few at the expense of many.
The reality is that ignoring these power structures, systemic oppressions, and cultural narratives puts the onus on the patient alone to take accountability for their lives and struggles, without also discussing how sometimes *cough, often, cough* there are many things put in place to have people fail and /or recreate these systems from day one.
A final thought is that therapists who avidly avoid politics are also picking political systems to operate within by refusing to recognize them. Nothing is apolitical- pretending it is, is also a politic… (One that causes more harm than good).