[This episode is part of the Health and Wellness Changemakers Series, our collaboration with Shohreh Davoodi's Redefining Health and Wellness Podcast. This post is cross-posted from Shohreh's website.]
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While many people can benefit from therapy, therapy as a profession and practice has historically not been inclusive of marginalized communities. Whether you’re talking about access to education, dominant schools of thought, or the cost of services, there is a lot of work to be done to turn therapy into a safer space for BIPOC, queer people, neurodiverse individuals, and many others.
Melody Li, a therapist of color and mental health justice activist, is working to change the therapy space for the better through the Inclusive Therapists directory—a way to find care that centers the needs of marginalized populations. She is so passionate about the work she’s doing, and that work is clearly desperately needed.
We chatted about what it means to be culturally affirming and responsive, the importance of increased accessibility, how marginalized folx can find affirming therapists, and more. Melody also offered up some questions and concepts that therapists with privilege can explore in order to develop more inclusive practices.
Discussed in this episode:
- How Melody found herself in the therapy world and what inspired her to develop the Inclusive Therapists directory.
- The misconception that all mental health professionals are automatically social justice oriented just from going through school.
- The difference between claiming to have cultural competence and being culturally affirming and responsive.
- Some of the nuances of words like “diversity,” “equity,” and “inclusivity.”
- How diversity doesn’t equal safety.
- The ways in which education is inaccessible, barring a disproportionate number of marginalized people from the mental health field.
- How extra work falls on minority-identified therapists to seek out resources and community.
- The ways in which mental health practitioners remain inaccessible to members of marginalized groups.
- The importance of not blaming minorities for not getting mental healthcare.
- Steps that therapists can take to be more culturally affirming and responsive, including doing identity work and looking at privilege in their lineage.
- Melody’s advice for finding the right therapist if you’re a marginalized individual.
- One of Melody’s red flags for therapists.
- The purposeful design of the Inclusive Therapists directory Melody created, including not having an “Other” category.
- How Melody defines health and wellness for herself at this moment in her life.
Mentioned in this Episode:
- Austin Counseling Collective
- Austin Therapists of Color
- Language of Appeasement by Dafina-Lazarus Stewart
- The Personal is Political with Ani Mirasol | #24
- The Inclusive Therapists directory Melody created
This Episode is Part of the Health and Wellness Changemakers Series
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Melody Li (she/her) is an immigrant, therapist of color, and mental health justice activist. She created Inclusive Therapists, a social justice oriented mental health directory and therapist community that centers the needs of marginalized populations. With “Embracing Diversity” as the mission, she co-founded Austin Counseling Collective, an intentionally diverse group therapy practice. Melody also co-leads the Austin Therapists of Color community. You can find Melody on her website, Instagram, and Facebook. You can also learn more about the Inclusive Therapists directory here.
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