Healing the Invisible Wounds of Racial Trauma in Therapy

Racially-sensitive, trauma-informed interventions and strategies

Kenneth Hardy, Ph.D.

Racial injustice remains an important issue in all aspects of our society, and the world of therapy is no exception. But despite the omnipresence of race in our lives, healing and meaningful conversations about it remain too often somewhere between difficult and impossible, characterized by avoidance, discomfort, and awkwardness.

And even when therapy is “trauma-informed,” it rarely focuses on the impact of race-based oppression and microaggressions – and the pervasive impacts from these experiences.

Ken Hardy, PhD, author of the new book Racial Trauma: Clinical Strategies & Techniques for Healing Invisible Wounds, shares racially-sensitive, trauma-informed interventions and strategies that centralize race and racial oppression in every facet of the therapeutic process and relationship.

On Racial Trauma: Clinical Strategies & Techniques for Healing Invisible Wounds being the important book he’s ever written…

“I mention somewhere in the preface that I felt like I've been writing this book my entire life. And the book afforded an opportunity for me to tell pieces and fragments of my own story, my family's story, my ancestors’ story, and the untold story of many clients that I've worked with over the years.

I felt both the weightiness of that, but also the significance because I thought that as people of color – and I certainly include myself as a person of color – my identity as a therapist doesn't negate those experiences that we walk through the world. I believe suffering from a set of circumstances and wounds of trauma that for the most part have remained relatively unnamed because they have been unnamed and unacknowledged, and they're essentially in the offices of many therapists untreated.

So I thought that the book was giving all of us as practitioners permission to name racial trauma, to retrain our eyes, and to look for it. And because we are able to look for it, we're able to see it. And because we see it, I hope that means that we are much more diligent and effective in treating it.”

On a myth about racial stress and trauma and how it affects therapists…

One of the myths about racial stress and trauma is that race is relevant in therapy only when people of color are involved. It’s a biproduct of our society. When we think of race, we think of people of color, and we don’t often include white people in our discussions about race. Race affects us all, regardless of our hue. And if we operate from that myth, then we don’t engage white clients in conversations about race because we think it’s a people of color issue.

And if you're ready to learn more about how to talk about race in therapy, check out Dr. Hardy's toolkit here.
Tips and Tactics for Talking about Race: A Toolkit for Therapists
Beyond Cultural Competency Summit
Clinicians and other human services workers are relied upon to navigate these difficult conversations, but many lack the requisite tools to do so.

In this recording, you’ll explore tips and tools for promoting sustainable conversations about race within and outside of therapy, relevant “Self of the Therapist” issues that may impede and/or facilitate meaningful conversations about race, and the four critical developmental stages for effective conversations involving race: preparation, encounter, engagement, and execution.

Meet the Expert:

Kenneth Hardy, Ph.D., is director of the Eikenberg Institute for Relationships and professor of marriage and family therapy at Drexel University.

Learn more about his educational products, including upcoming live seminars, by clicking here.

Topic: Cultural, Social, & Racial Issues

Tags: Race in therapy

Email Signup