Tuesday, March 6, 2018

1968 to 2018: What change has come?

I was listening to NPR’s 50 years ago, thousands walked out of East LA schools. Now, they say ‘the fight isn't over.'  I was captivated with the connection of the year 1968 and
its relationship to its 2018 fifty year junior.  What has changed and what are we struggling with within the American borders? Melba Pattillo Beals of the Little Rock Nine so poignantly discusses at the end of her NPR interview this very question.  Have things gotten better?

As an analyst or therapist working in the Hollywood and greater Los Angeles Area, who primarily works
as a psychodynamic therapist and marriage and couples counselor, I am challenged.  The biggest
question is incorporating the Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory, and exosystemic
masosystemic theory into treatment.  As a seasoned clinician you cannot do treatment without at
least having this in the back of your head.  It might not directly come out in the session; but, it is
lurking in the room. It might not be an elephant, but it is a shadow and depending on the day it will
affect the visual scope of treatment.  

During the bulk of my research on mental health in various populations several years ago what was
identified was that some populations face barriers that deter them from seeking mental health care.  
Additionally, according to Parham et al. (1999), “serving culturally different clients generally … does
require some requisite knowledge in how to provide the most effective interventions” (p. 114). As
sourced (Strayhorn, 2010), as mental health services are in demand in diverse populations the nation's
public mental health system has “attempted to grapple with the problems of providing accessible and
effective services to diverse populations” (McCarthy, 2001; Takeuchi, Sue, & Yeh, 1995).  What this is
telling us as a collective nation is that the demand for mental health services for people of diversity
who live in America is partly a result of historical adversity (Leary, 2005; Office of the Surgeon General,
2001; Thernstrom & Thernstrom, 1997; Washington, 2007), which included race-based exclusion from
health, educational, social, and economic resources. These historical adversities translate into the
socioeconomic disparities experienced by many today. Moreover, inferior socioeconomic status is a
contributing factor to a breakdown in the population’s mental health (Office of the Surgeon General,
2001) and functional impairments.   

With statistics and data collected for over 50 years we are now witnessing experiences and case
studies of people’s lives that show that social constructs can and do affect mental health.  As a Los
Angeles Therapist my struggle is understanding politics and public policy and social climates. With an
ongoing change that includes learning and adapting I walk a fine line between understanding social and
political climate while supporting all clients as they live their significant lives while they meander through

A glowing red “change” neon on a wall
So the discussion is the impact of students having a voice and their vibrant energy causing change due to social disparity.  What is repressed gets expressed and as these seeds of our youth stir the soil and advocate a fight to improve their lives the unknowing push the ideology of advocacy for social and policy change is improving the mental health, at large.  Whether a walk-out, march, riot, sit-in, or a contemporary Parkland's Student Activists Bill Maher's 'Real Time' panel mental health is a direct social and political part of the Americas.   

So, yes,  this therapist has an ethical responsibility to recognize and understand and incorporate social thinking into treatment.  
Read more about Dr. Strayhorn's practice and philosophy...

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