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  • Writer's pictureStacy Taylor, LCSW

An Ally to All People

Updated: May 22

I have a web page through Psychology Today (PT).  On there, they ask us to check off the groups in which we are allied.  I wasn’t sure at first what it meant to be an ally so I googled it.   The definition?


“To operate in solidarity with a marginalized group, acknowledging your privilege and power.”


Frankly, I don’t know how this applies to psychotherapy.   How do I, as a therapist,  operate in solidarity with a group?  And do clients really want me to discuss my privilege and power when they simply want help for family issues, grief or depression?


PT lists over a dozen types of alliances from which to choose.  I am listing most of the items that we can check off.


Bisexual allied

deaf allied

gay allied

little person

lesbian

non-binary

transgender

sex worker

HIV

aviation professional


I found this list a bit particular.  There is nothing here about ethnicity.  What about being an ally to African Americans or Latinos?  And what about other groups not included, such as immigrants, large/obese people, the elderly, or cancer survivors?


Then there is the really odd one:  “aviation professional.”  Why does this one pop up?


I know the reason for its inclusion.  In the past, the list included many occupations.  So therapists could be an ally to artists, law enforcement officers or performers.  Over the years, however,  PT removed all of them.  But, by accident, they must have forgotten to delete the aviation professionals.


So a therapist could indicate on the web page that he or she is an ally to a gay, little person, who is an aviation professional but moonlights as a sex worker.


Okay, as you can see from the tone, I’m not taking this particularly seriously.  I think it’s because I was trained as a therapist long ago, in the l980s.


Back then, it was considered inappropriate to politicize psychotherapy sessions.

And we were not supposed to view people as groups, with the possible stereotyping involved in this. 


We were charged with seeing each client as a unique person, with his or her own history, values, beliefs, and life experiences.  And we were trained to care about all clients, regardless of whether the person shared our politics or our values.


As for Psychology Today, I decided not to check anything and leave the section blank.  However, if I had to indicate my alliance, it would be to all of my clients in their struggles to overcome suffering and experience peace and joy.  Unfortunately, there was no box to check off for that one.




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