Understanding that microaggressions (subtle racism) exist, along with discrimination, racism, prejudice, and stereotypes, I recognize that I must be aware of my own to comprehend them in others.
As a client of a psychiatrist for many years, I was reluctant in the beginning to disclose all my fears, limitations, family matters (personal information) because I did not fully trust myself, therefore, I found it difficult to trust others.
In time, I learned that he (psychiatrist) was not an adversary but a confidant. He recently retired and I learned a great deal on how to meet people where they are (mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically) and understanding that listening is far more valuable and long lasting than instructing (giving opinions) to build trust and help others experience personal growth.
As a mental health professional, I have experienced alcoholism, tragedy, death, family hardship, loss, grief, and personal mental health issues that I can bring to the equation with empathy in my interactions with others.
Stereotypes I may encounter subtly are my ethnicity, age, appearance, or any other subtle misperceptions (about myself or client). My personal experience (age) gives me flexibility in meeting and understanding where individuals are (emotionally, mentally, and physically) at present to develop trust, respect, with congeniality and empathy.
The client (patient, family) may perceive and/or presume the mental health professional(MHP) has all the answers. The best ones (MHPs) recognize they don’t. The answers lie within the individual.
My role is to help people uncover (awareness) by collaboratively working in a mutually beneficial way to improve the client’s growth and cooperate better with others.
“Know thyself” in order to understand others.
What are your biases?
As Sommers-Flanagan and Sommers-Flanagan (2007) said: “the responsibility to stay current in their knowledge base (professionalism), and to use teaching methods that facilitate learning and retention” (p. 331). By exploring ways to bring people of many cultures and divergent points of view into the client-professional relationship, eliciting their voice, guiding, balancing, and empowering.
Sommers-Flanagan, R., & Sommers-Flanagan, J. (2007). Becoming an ethical helping professional: Cultural and philosophical foundations. Wiley. ISBN0471738107, 9780471738107