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How do you heal from the ongoing trauma that you experience daily? What meaningful impact can you make in your community that creates a ripple effect of healing? As a clinician or client, what can you do to be a part of meaningful change?
In this podcast episode takeover, LaToya Smith speaks with Carynne Williams about trauma and seeking out social justice.
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Meet Carynne Williams
Carynne Williams earned a Master of Social Work degree in 2010 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She also has a Master of Public Administration degree from North Carolina Central University and a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Duke University. Over the course of her career, she has provided psychotherapy in a wide range of clinical settings including practice in federal and state agencies.
Most recently, she has worked for the Department of Justice as a Clinical Social Worker, providing treatment to dozens of patients over the course of the past several years. Carynne has a passion for helping others and has been able to do so with clients ranging from ages four to 80 years old. She has a distinct passion and proven talent in working with marriages and families, and does not believe in a one size fits all approach to treatment. Instead, she prefers a pragmatic approach that includes psychodynamic treatment, CBT, DBT skills, Motivational Interviewing, Solution-focused, and psychoeducation. Belief in addressing the needs of the whole person- emotionally, physically, spiritually, and socially is at the core of Carynne’s interactions with her clients. Her own faith and spiritual beliefs fuel her passion for people- their restoration and healing.
Visit her website, connect on Facebook.
In This Podcast
- Who is a trauma ninja?
- The work of a trauma ninja
- Healing from racial trauma
Who is a trauma ninja?
Someone who will work towards finding the most extensive resources, the best coping and healing mechanisms, and the most helpful ways to teach about how to deal with trauma.
By treating one person and teaching them the skills needed to deal with trauma, you can help heal an entire community because this knowledge is passed on. This quiet but significant part can cause incredible ripple effects of healing throughout whole communities.
The work of a trauma ninja
Potential new clinicians sign a training agreement through Carynne’s Facebook group ‘Mend’ that states that if they receive training through Mend, they will give away trauma counseling services for free to people of color who could not otherwise afford it.
This would be a full treatment course spanning six months or so per person, therefore offering services to two people per year for five years, therefore, in the end, having helped 10 people free of charge.
Mend offers people of every color and opportunity to be part of the solution, whether as the clinician of color giving away free services or to be an ally who helps us meet our goal. (Carynne Williams)
Social justice belongs to everyone who seeks it out and wants to work with it.
Healing from racial trauma
Racial trauma can be ongoing, because you experience it within your societies and perhaps even families, therefore it is something you can experience daily. Empowering people to use their voice is a part of their healing.
There is direct trauma, that you experience yourself, and vicarious trauma of watching violence towards black bodies on the news every day.
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Meet LaToya Smith
LaToya is a consultant with Practice of the Practice and the owner of LCS Counseling and Consulting Agency in Fortworth Texas. She firmly believes that people don’t have to remain stuck in their pain or the place they became wounded. She encourages her clients to be active in their treatment and work towards their desired outcome.
She has also launched Strong Witness which is a platform designed to connect, transform, and heal communities through the power of storytelling.
Visit LaToya’s website.
Connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, Strong Witness Instagram, and Twitter.
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This is the Practice of the Practice podcast takeover episode with LaToya Smith, session number 514.
Welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast takeover. Once again, I’m LaToya Smith, and I have another amazing guest with us today. I have Carynne Williams. She earned a master of social work degree in 2010, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She also has a Master of Public Administration degree from North Carolina Central University, and a certificate in nonprofit management from Duke University. Over the course of her career, she provided psychotherapy in a wide range of clinical settings, including practice in federal and state agencies. She believes in addressing the needs of a whole person emotionally, physically, spiritually, and is socially the core of Carynne’s interactions with clients. Her own faith and spiritual beliefs fuel her passion for people, their restoration, and their healing. So Carynne, thank you so much for agreeing to be a part of this podcast today.[CARYNNE]:
Absolutely. I’m honored to be here, LaToya. [LATOYA]:
Yeah, you know, I’m excited because, um, you know, I know I’m connected with you through our Facebook group. But before we even get into that, tell us a little bit about where you’re at in your private practice, your niche, all those things? [CARYNNE]:
Absolutely. So I am, I was born and raised here in North Carolina, and I still live here. Right now I am located in Durham, North Carolina. But I have a private practice that’s completely teletherapy. And I’m licensed in North Carolina and Utah. And so most of my patients are in those two states. [LATOYA]:
Okay, that’s interesting. How’d you get licensed in Utah too? That’s a ways from North Carolina. [CARYNNE]:
One of those winding paths of your career. I started doing some work with another company that required me to be licensed in Utah and Alaska and ended up keeping, because I ended up having so many patients in Utah, and there were so few clinicians of color that I found that, you know, people who were really looking for a clinician of color, really kind of gravitated to my profile, and I have so many there that I just keep my license in that state. [LATOYA]:
I just want to ask you that, like, is it, do you see two totally different populations of people, from Utah to Alaska to North Carolina? Or do you still see predominantly people of color? [CARYNNE]:
Um, I think the majority of my patients actually are not people of color, in either state. So here in North Carolina, most of my patients are Caucasian. And then in Utah, most of them are actually kind of Hawaiian descendants. So they have, you know, that background and so they’re normally immigrants, the ones that I see in Utah, but I do have a few, I think I do have one African American or a few African Americans in Utah, but mostly, they’re Hawaiian descent. [LATOYA]:
Okay, well, that’s pretty cool. Um, and then tell us, you know, I know from, you know, seeing your posts and your interests one of your main areas to focus on is trauma. Just tell us a little bit about like, how you got into that, like that being the focus and the work you do around trauma. [CARYNNE]:
Okay. Yeah. So, the work that I do in my private practice, I think that we all, the psychotherapists that I know of personally, at least, we come into this profession, a lot of times being people who have known what it’s like to been broken. And so we end up studying the things that in some ways we have either healed from or hope to heal from. And so for me, my personal story is that it is very painful for me to hear that people live without hope. [Unclear] hope well, so people can come to the well and get as much hope as they need. But the absence of hope, I think is literally one of the biggest killers of people everywhere. And people slowly suffer without hope, and in loneliness and in isolation. And so the goal of my therapy is to walk alongside people in their journey towards health, health and healing, and restoration. Because, again, from my personal experience, I know what it’s like to live without that. And once I came to a place of being whole myself, that was something that I dedicated my life and my career to. [LATOYA]:
See, that’s powerful by itself. You know, I love what you said about, you know, come to the well and get as much hope as you need. But what you know, just also with the understanding of you realize what you needed to boost you. And now you’re pouring that back out to those that you serve. [CARYNNE]:
Absolutely, I believe strongly that we are stronger in the broken places is the way that it’s said, the places where we have been mended is the place where we can then focus our attention on helping others through what we’ve learned personally. [LATOYA]:
Awesome, awesome. And then so with that, I know that I got connected with you through the Facebook group Mend. And to my understanding, you helped found that and well, you founded that. So tell us a little bit, tell us about Mend, and its purpose and the vision, all that. [CARYNNE]:
Absolutely. So Mend came as a result, it was founded immediately following the murder of George Floyd this summer. And it started really with me having an incredible amount of frustration, frustration, anger, being angry, yes, about the social climate, being angry, yes, that the whole world witnessed a man being murdered in you know, in real-time, angry, being angry with myself that I was even angry. Because in some ways, my being angry meant that I was somehow surprised that this happened, when really this has been happening to black people, specifically since our first involuntary boat ride across the ocean. So you know, this is not something that is new, it is new that we have cameras to record it. But this is something that has been woven into the black experience many times over for generation from generation to generation to generation. And so I was very, very angry.
But I am, I count myself as a woman of faith. And I was, it was so out of character for me to be this angry. And I started to pray. And I asked God, I said, you know, I cannot, and like I said, most of my patient load, the patients that I help are not black. Most of them are white, especially here in North Carolina. And so I did not spend my, my days being angry, and focusing my attention that way. And so I did, I asked God, I said, so what do you want me to do with this? I don’t know. I have no idea what to do with this anger. I feel like it should be there in some ways, but in other ways, it’s not productive for me to live this way.
And so I spent two or three weeks, being pretty angry. And then after I prayed that, the very next day, I started thinking, well, you know, I know that this feels like a hopeless situation for most of us. But the thing that gets me is how many people are watching this and being re-traumatized. There’s nothing we can do for George Floyd at this point. But the mothers who are watching this and whose hearts were gripped as he cried out for his mother, who had long been, you know, passed away. The desperation that he called out for her, the trauma of being a black man living in America and realizing that any day that this could be your reality. There are so many parts of this that just spoke of trauma. And the idea that we are trapped in a system that we cannot get away from.
So I thought to myself, well, if one of the major issues is trauma, one of the ways that I could be a part of the solution is to become what I call the Trauma Ninja.[LATOYA]:
Meaning I will I will figure out what are the best practices, the most heavily researched, the treatment models that have the highest efficacy in treating trauma, and I will get those trauma treatment trainings, and then give away those services to at least two people of color for the rest of my career. And I think that that, you know, part of the issue with providing, or people having access to trauma treatment is not necessarily that there aren’t clinicians who want to do trauma treatment, but I think having the proper training, and then having financial access to that type of clinical care, becomes a hurdle. And so I decided on my own, you know, by the time I help two people per year, every year of my career, let’s say I have another 20 in me, that’s 40 people. And if you think about it, that’s 40 people plus their children’s lives being affected, their co-workers, their, their sisters, their mothers. So by treating one person, I’m helping to treat an entire community. And if I multiply that many times over, then I can, you know, be a very quiet but significant part of healing my community.
And then I thought, you know, I’m not the only altruistic clinician out there, I know that there are plenty of people who are tired and frustrated, who would be interested in doing something like this. And so I did make that post on a Facebook group that we belong to, Clinicians of Color group. And I just presented this idea, and I said, hey, guys, I have this idea. And not only do I have this idea, I thought, well, one of the barriers to having clinicians getting the best trauma treatment training, is that there is a financial barrier for us too, and so if we can band together and leverage, leverage that opportunity, maybe we can bring down the cost. And make sure that these clinicians get the best training that they can, and then they dedicate their time every year to people for a minimum of five years to giving these services away, then we can multiply the impact, right?[LATOYA]:
Okay. So with the Mend group, and I know you said this before, when people come on board and get the training, they are saying they’re going to provide therapy for two people per year for free for at least five years. Just explain that part for, okay. [CARYNNE]:
Right, right. And so each of these clinicians, before they receive a training through Mend, signs what we call a training agreement. And that agreement is that if they receive training through Mend, that they will then give away services for free to people of color, who could not otherwise afford it, a full course of treatment, so not just one or two sessions. But a full course, which we generally think of is about six months or so, a full course of treatment for two people per year, minimum of five years. So total, 10 people. And we together, you know, we seek out trainers who would allow us to do that at a better rate. So some of these trainings that we need can be upwards of $2000 or $3,000 per training. And so when we band together, and we say that we have this social justice focus, if you want to be a part of helping us one thing that you can do that is in your realm of ability, is to help train us at a discounted rate. And usually, people have jumped at that opportunity.
We’ve had, especially our ACT training team that has come on board is a team, mostly of white clinicians, but have been very, very, very excited about some way to give back. I think people for long have felt powerless. And that’s not just black people. That’s people of many colors, who feel like they don’t know what to do to be a part of the solution. And Mend offers people of every color an opportunity to be part of the solution, whether that’s to be a clinician of color who gives away free services, or to be an ally who helps us meet our goal.[LATOYA]:
And I love this and I mean, I know I’m familiar with it, because I’m a part of the group but even hearing you explain it to me is powerful. You know, I mean, like just taking that anger. You could have sat with that in the summer and just remained angry and then just let it decrease and let it go away. But you started Mend, you started this space not only for investing in other therapists or encouraging other therapists, let’s get this training, now let’s turn around and give back to the community. But also holding other, you know, groups, organizations accountable that said they want to be a part of change, well, here’s an opportunity to be a part of change, and even, you know, reduce the rates that we can get the training to do the work. [CARYNNE]:
Absolutely, absolutely. Social justice belongs to every single person that wants to be a part of it. Seeking out social justice belongs to everybody. And black people cannot do it alone, people of color cannot do it alone. It takes an entire community to bring justice to reality. [LATOYA]:
Yeah, and I love it. So I know you’ve had the ACT training. What other training do you have coming up? Or what do you foresee like even for the next year? [CARYNNE]:
Absolutely. One of our goals in Mend is to eventually have all of our training programs in-house. So ACT is one treatment modality that we’re definitely dedicated to. We also have EMDR, which is Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing. And as you can see, I haven’t been trained in it yet, but I will. But those are two, two treatment modalities that have shown a high rate of efficacy in treating trauma. And they lend themselves very well to being culturally tailored. So those are the main two that we’re looking at right now. There are plenty of other evidence based practices that we eventually probably will add on, trauma-focused CBT. There are a few others that are not quite yet, we can’t deem them evidence base, but there’s a high interest in them. And so we don’t exactly offer those as trainings within Mend but we do, you know, we have allowed people who do those trainings to advertise within Mend, because like I said, if even if they’re not evidence-based, people still have an interest in them. And so if people want to receive trainings, we want to do everything that we can to make sure that they get the training that they need.
So the eventual goal is that we will get trained, but we will also develop trainers. And so within Mend, we’re no longer relying on people from the outside coming in to train us, that we will have an in house training program that we know is culturally sound, that we know has a high efficacy rate, that we know, we have qualified trainers, and we can then build our own training program for our needs. And train as we see fit instead of kind of having to wait for people from the outside to train us.[LATOYA]:
I love this. This is like about taking, you know, I’ve always learned, like where your passion is, I mean, your ministry is there also. And this seems like this is absolute, like ministry for you with the service you’re providing to the community where again, you took this emotion and you ran with it in this vision, and what you’ve developed so far over these short months, like, it’s amazing. You know, and so I mean, I’m excited for what, what’s going to come with Mend, let alone what you’ve already been doing. Like, I’m already loving it. I was a part of the ACT training that you did, but yeah, I’m already loving it. [CARYNNE]:
Oh, great, great, what did you think? [LATOYA]:
I thought it was good. I liked it. I liked that it was two parts. You know, I know we did like a Friday and a Saturday. And I enjoyed it. I learned it cuz that’s, I mean, you’re right. It’s you know, you hear about these trainings, and then it’s a price and then it deters you from going forward, even though you want to learn how to do certain trainings. And I’ve heard about ACT training before, but I’ve never had the opportunity. But you know, I loved the trainers. And I liked the group, it was good. It’s a good space, you know. [CARYNNE]:
And so we also, in addition to that training, we want to have ongoing… we do actually have ongoing consultation groups that we want to continue to offer that so that people not only have that one time training, but that they continue to grow with that treatment, that they really become proficient in the application of the treatment and that they always have someone to go to. Many times in private practice, it can be a lonely business, where you find yourself being the only clinician or you don’t really have people to ask questions. So, you know, we want Mend to be a place where we can grow. And so I say from the very beginning, from your first training to you becoming a trainer, if that’s what you want, we want Mend to be able to support the entire process for those clinicians. [LATOYA]:
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And then we speak too about trauma, if we’re talking about racial trauma, social justice. We know, last week, you know, we had, well, our country’s been changed a little bit by the election. Okay, so there is a shift. But there’s also a need to, you know, keep working as far as social justice. And you know, how do you think especially when it comes to trauma, racial trauma, you know, how should we be moving now and the effects that it has on the black community, or even Latino, like you name it, and even for our Caucasian brothers and sisters, like, if you could talk a little bit about racial trauma and how we can heal from that as well? [CARYNNE]:
Right. Um, you know, it’s interesting, one of the questions that has come about within the ACT training group is, how do you heal from a trauma that is ongoing? So trauma that is past tense requires a different approach than a trauma that is ongoing. So I often describe America’s relationship with black people as sometimes it can be seen as an abusive relationship. And black people, most of us, we love America. And it doesn’t always seem that America loves us back. And, you know, of course we don’t, we’re here, and we’re Americans, and we don’t intend to go anywhere. But how do you live in peace in a place where you feel consistently threatened? I think, you know, that that is something that we’ve had to grapple with in a different way.
I think that, like I said, the racial tension between black people and other races in the United States has always been there. But I think that it’s more prominent now. I think the past four years have made it a lot more. I had a patient recently, who described it as a black light over America right now. The black light, meaning that there are a lot of things that can be hidden, right, even if you feel like you’ve cleaned it up, but when you shine that black light over it, it shows everything, it shows everything that’s been there, it shows everything that’s still going on, still present there. And so, I think that a lot of times our struggle is that we don’t want to seem unpatriotic, because we love this country as much as anyone. But we also have to be realistic about what our reality is. And so a lot of times for us, empowering people to use their voice is part of the healing. How do I find my place in the place that I love, but doesn’t always seem to love me? Um, so that, you know, to be honest, that is something that I am grappling with as a clinician, how do I inspire people to live freely, while at the same time being mindful of their safety and cautious about how they present their pain?[LATOYA]:
Yeah, you, um, you said something that was really good, just the idea of, and I think that part may not be what everybody understands, like, I can’t heal, if you keep hurting me. You know, or I can’t heal, even if, or it’s not that I need you to acknowledge this pain, but the fact that you keep doing it, or it keeps occurring over and over, it’s hard to heal in that space. Whereas people may say, get over it, you know, unfortunately, we hear that regardless of any trauma, but not if I keep getting re-traumatized. That’s painful, you know, and it’s harmful and it’s, it’s a lasting effect on anyone, I would think. [CARYNNE]:
Right. And the trauma comes from different angles, right? So there’s the direct trauma, but then there’s the vicarious trauma, watching it on the news every day, of, you know, sending your sons and daughters out and praying to God that they make it back home. You know, my son right now is 4 and a half years old, and I’m starting to think about when do I need to start talking to him about how he presents himself in public? And how do I do that without, you know, suggesting that he live on his knees? How do I help him ensure his safety but at the same time, teach him to honor himself? That is a, I think, is probably so interesting to me that I am struggling with the same question that I’m sure my ancestors who were enslaved dealt with hundreds of years ago. This is 2020. I’m sure that this is a question that has been asked of every brown mother in every generation in America. How do I teach them to protect themselves, but also honor who they were born to be? [LATOYA]:
Yeah. And that’s heavy, that’s heavy by itself, because then we get into that space too of that like double consciousness. Right? Like, how can I, how can I be me, but also stay, so safe, make you feel comfortable with that I’m not a threat to you, for you to harm me? Um, you know, that’s, that’s hard for an adult, let alone I can imagine a young child. [CARYNNE]:
Right. And the problem is that for children of color, they are perceived to be adults long before, you know, Caucasian children are. So you know, the perception of a young black male, you know, he is, you know, kind of looked at as an adult when he is a teenager. Whereas, you know, for other races, they have the, the boys will be boys, and they get that, that benefit of the doubt, but a lot of times, especially when it comes to our justice system, whether that’s, you know, the legal justice system, or the court of public opinion, they’re perceived to be adult and more threatening at a much earlier age. And girls tend to be, you know, thought of, they tend to be sexualized earlier, than, you know, black girls tend to be sexualized earlier, and thought of as more sexually mature, or capable, than girls who are Caucasian, at a much earlier age. And that is unfortunate, it is a very uncomfortable thing to admit to. But it is our reality. And I think that we have to acknowledge the reality before we can change it. [LATOYA]:
Yeah. You know, as you were talking, and that was a deep question you asked, even in regards to our ancestors asking these questions hundreds of years ago, and here we are asking these same questions. But you know, and then we often hear sometimes where, you know, trauma can be passed down generation to generation. And sometimes we have to unlearn what wounded people have taught us, you know, even though for them, it may have been all they knew, but they had our best interests in mind. But they were traumatized, too. So you know, you’ve been helping me see, like, wow, even parents, making sure that you’re healthy and dealing with this trauma, so you don’t pass this down to young people, you know, survival techniques that really, you know, we weren’t meant to, we shouldn’t have to learn but we’re grabbing hold to. [CARYNNE]:
Mm hm. And I think, you know, sometimes, you know, the fear is that our need to protect ourselves is sometimes seen as unpatriotic, or seen as threatening. But it’s really not about that, it really is a survival tool. You know, that I think people, sometimes we get into a mix of feeling like times have changed and then comes this blacklight that shows us, hmm, maybe not as much as we thought. When President Obama was elected in 2008 and we thought, oh, man, America has turned the corner. Finally, I wish, I wish brother Martin could see this, I wish brother Malcolm could see this, and, you know, my son, he can be anything and, you know, look at the wonderful example. And then, you know, I won’t get too much into a political conversation but just the past four years, in general, we can say, have just been a blacklight over what we thought was behind us. And it showed that it’s definitely not, some of those conversations that we’re talking about still need to happen and it makes us sad, it makes us angry. But again, the only way to make a change, if change is possible, is to be honest about it. [LATOYA]:
Yeah, no, I like that. And I think you’re right. There’s still very much, there’s a lot of work to be done. There’s a lot of conversations to have. There’s a lot of things that need to be cleared up, you know. But I mean, I often say that we all need to own our stuff and what’s in our hearts, and then do something about the same way you did, you had that anger, you know, you could have run around, cussing people out or beating people up. Or you could have just quit, you know, but you did something with it that was powerful. [CARYNNE]:
Right. Yeah. [LATOYA]:
So I love that part. What is it? You know, cuz a lot of times too, the difference, the big gap, I think, is that people don’t understand trauma and don’t understand how bad this hurts for people of color. And if there’s any way like, how would you help people understand that, like, listen, maybe they understand trauma when it comes to sexual assault or trauma when it comes to losing somebody or watching somebody pass. But this is just as, I mean, this is just as impactful and hurtful. [CARYNNE]:
Mm hmm. [LATOYA]:
You know, how would you describe trauma like this to somebody or trauma in general, somebody who just can’t wrap their mind around it and get it? Like, why are you so upset? Why are you so mad? You know, or Obama was president, so we, you know, we love black people. [CARYNNE]:
Right. Um, you know, in terms of racial trauma, we just kind of back up a few centuries and think about what life was like for people of color. This idea that, um, you know, think about how, I was thinking, I was thinking about this, on the night that the election was called, and people were celebrating, right? Last week, people were celebrating, and they were, well, half of the country was celebrating. And I thought to myself, it was a very scary moment for me. Because I thought, well, there’s half of the country celebrating, but then there’s half of the country that is boiling mad. And for those that have to be boiling mad was something that was scary for me. And I thought to myself, I said, I wonder what that was like the night after the slaves learned that they were going to be set free. [LATOYA]:
How liberating that must have been to think, oh, you know, I’m not, according to law, right? There’s the law, and then there’s public opinion. According to law, I am no longer bound by these rules. And then think about who that makes, who’s angry about that. And what power they actually have to do something about that. It must have been the scariest time of their lives. I think, you know, I think I put a post up recently about, you know, the scariest time or the most dangerous time for a person who’s in a violent relationship, the most dangerous time for that person is when they decide to leave the relationship because when their oppressor understands that they have now lost power, they become desperate. And that leads them into desperate measures.
And so I feel like I’m, you know, I don’t want to get too far away from your question but I want people to kind of grapple with this idea that this same, the same thought patterns that were happening hundreds of years ago, are still happening now. Let’s say that there’s a mother, who her whole life has been in an abusive relationship. She knows nothing but having to please other people, and trying to but not being able to. She knows what it’s like to have everything snatched from her. She knows what it’s like to live without any true thought of a future. What does she then teach her children about the world around them? Does she teach them that they can be anything that they want to be? Does she teach them to believe in themselves, to try hard to, you know, to run faster, twice as fast and twice as far as everyone else or does she teach them to be safe? Whether safety means to sit quietly, to stand by, to give up the things that they may feel they have rights to.
The conversations that we have that a person who has been oppressed has with their children is very different from the conversation that a person who has lived with privilege has with their children. And if you multiply that by hundreds of years, and I’m talking, let’s let’s go from the first slave trades, to, to living through slavery, to the liberation of slavery, and what that looked like for black people immediately following, following the emancipation to now let’s talk about Jim Crow. And now let’s talk about, you know, especially living in the South, 60s, 70s, 80s. And then when racism kind of turned and the conversation is we’re not racist, but this is our policy. Right? And so, getting into the systematic racism isn’t overt, but it’s still oppressive. It kind of, it’s almost like gaslighting, right?[LATOYA]:
I’ll tell you, you can be anything you want to be, but don’t cross this line. So how do we over generations start to talk to our children? And what are we starting to ingrain? There are things that we start to accept as culture, that’s not cultural at all. It’s a trauma response. [LATOYA]:
That is your response to trauma. You are teaching survival based on your experience with trauma. And you were told that you are not to speak of it, you cannot speak on these things. You cannot, and you cannot get help either, right? So we’re not supposed to complain, right, we just get up and we keep going. You’re not allowed a mental breakdown, you’re not allowed to complain, because you’ve got to get up the next day and make it happen all over again. And you can’t be seen as weak. So you don’t want to acknowledge that you’re in pain. So we’re going to teach our children to survive, and then to swallow down their pain and not allow them the air that they need to breathe. And when we do that, over and over and over again, we start to accept a system that is just, it’s almost in some ways, it runs on itself. In some ways, we don’t even need an outside oppressor to keep us in bondage because we’ll keep ourselves bound. [LATOYA]:
Yeah. Out of fear, right, because I know trauma brings that space of shame and fear and, you know, your wound itself or behaviors from being wounded, start to become the norm. You don’t know the other side. [CARYNNE]:
Normalization. Absolutely. Absolutely. [LATOYA]:
Yeah, that’s, um, that’s powerful. You’re saying a lot. Like, I think we could have this conversation, like all day long. But it’s good. And I think that, I like how you’re even expressing what trauma is, because you’re giving me space to even think deeper about it, you know, and putting the pieces together where trauma has become the norm for certain communities and certain cultures. Doesn’t have to be, but it’s survival. How can you, you know, for people that are listening and want to join Mend or be a part of it, like, what’s the best way for people to get involved with the group? [CARYNNE]:
Yeah, so Mend is a group of clinicians of color. And so one of the things that we have grappled with is this very, very, very firm belief that I have that the call for social justice belongs to everyone, I don’t care what color you are, that if you want to contribute to helping people of color advance, then you should be a part of this. So um, so for clinicians of color, of course, you could always join Mend, you could participate in the trainings, you could, if you’re already trained and you don’t need the training, then you can just commit to the two people per year for a minimum of five years. We are working right now, like I said, all of this kind of happened at warp speed, like, this was just, 2020 has just been so packed that it feels like it’s been forever. But this just started in June. So we’re still working out the ways to have people join the listserv and become updated on what’s happening in Mend.
There are ways for you to contribute. If you visit our website, www.mendmind.org, you would be able to make a donation to Mend that would go towards scholarships for clinicians to make sure that they get these high quality trainings. And then we also have, well, we are starting, it hasn’t been officially announced yet, but now we have a Mend Allies group. And the Mend Allies group is for clinicians who are not of color, but do want to align themselves with our mission. And I just think that we have to, you know, we may all want to do the same things but we have to look at where, where our power lies. So I think that, for white clinicians, there is a role and a power that is very different than there is for me, or for you. And I think having them take hold of that and really think about what that means and how they apply that, is what the Mend Allies group is about.
So it is about cultural competency. How do they speak within their organizations and with other clinicians about race related trauma? And how do they work with clients of color? What are the things that they should consider in working with clients of color? And so, you know, that group is starting to bubble. We haven’t exactly kind of put a structure around it just yet, because we’ve been so busy with Mend. But um, you know, I certainly would encourage people to visit the website and join our listserv so that they can stay abreast of everything that’s happening in Mend, and how they can just be a part of the movement.[LATOYA]:
Got you. Okay. This is awesome, Carynne. Thank you so much. So, just so the listeners know, again, that they can always find Mend, it was a Facebook group, Mend. And then also, as she mentioned, the website mendmind.org. And also the Mend Allies group is to join the listserv there. So this is absolutely powerful. You gave me a lot to think on, you know, you know, as I go forward. So this is just amazing. So, Carynne, thank you so much for being a guest and just speaking your heart and your mind today. I appreciate it. [CARYNNE]:
I appreciate the platform. And I really appreciate anyone who’s listening in and, you know, this all starts in the heart, right? It all starts in the heart and then you commit to action and we’ll get there together. We’ll get there together. [LATOYA]:
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