How couple psychology helps people cope and heal
If you’ve found yourself triggered by racism often, you’re not alone.
In fact, some doctors suggest that the trauma caused by racism is long lasting, but there are ways to deal with it.
“Racism affected me in ways I hadn’t even realized,” said Joe Johnson, PhD, of Joe Johnson Group.
Like many people of color, Johnson, 39, lives with the trauma of racism and the triggers that could rekindle it every day.
“As far as blacks are concerned, in particular, we have never had the opportunity to heal from all the trauma inflicted on us,” he said.
This trauma manifested itself in the way he carries, dresses and even speaks.
“I’m always watching my back. I always recognize and understand where I am so I can sail properly, ”said Johnson.
The trauma of racism can be generational. Johnson calls it CTSD, or Continuing Traumatic Stress Disorder.
“My great-grandfather took care of it. My grandfather, my father, me. Now my sons are facing this, ”he said. “I have an 8 year old son, a 6 year old son. Black boys. They know what it looks like. My 6 year old son, when he hears the police siren he is afraid of like: “Daddy, they are going to come get us!”
For some, police sirens can trigger or rekindle trauma. For others, it could be police on sight or being arrested. Micro-attacks are also seen as triggers as social media is replete with videos of racist incidents – such as the murder of George Floyd – which are continually traumatic for some.
“Any kind of traumatic event or experience is going to take care of your nervous system. It’s in your soul. It literally takes hold in your soul, in your physiology, in your nervous system,” said Dr Brandi Pritchett-Johnson.
Pritchett-Johnson is a psychologist who helps counsel those dealing with the trauma of racism.
“Each of my clients, and I’m not extreme,” she said. “The cumulative impact over time may not appear for weeks, months, years later. You can have trauma triggers.
Johnson is anything but average. He holds a doctorate in counselor training. He travels the country speaking to businesses and groups about diversity, equity and inclusion. When not traveling, he spends time raising his two sons with his wife, Dr Pritchett-Johnson. This couple of psychologists have been married for 10 years. They have years of experience helping people heal.
“It’s important for us to recognize the pain that has been caused to black people,” Johnson said.
Crying is good
For Johnson, healing from the trauma of racism begins with one thing.
“I believe that as black men we need to cry well. We don’t want to talk about this, ”he said. “In 2020, I cried a lot. Many things.
His wife agrees.
“Crying is a form of catharsis, like liberation. You know? So you have all these deposits which are traumatic and not necessarily good. So crying is a way to erase or expel that, ”she said.
Both explain to clients that crying is natural. Yet, this is only the first step in dealing with the trauma of racism that triggers these feelings of hurt and anger.
“I use the trigger first, then we calm the trigger,” said Pritchett-Johns. “So you use the trigger, then you calm the trigger, then we come up with a personalized wellness plan to help them validate their own feelings first. “
Dr Pritchett-Johnson suggests journaling, exercising, or talking to someone about your trauma and your triggers. It’s part of what she calls a “wellness plan,” which can always start with a good cry.
“For black men, we don’t want to do this because it makes us feel like we’re not being tough,” Johnson said. “Your body is traumatized and the greatest thing we can do is honor ourselves by saying that there is something wrong with me, understand what it is and be able to set myself free. Now you have to figure out what you need to do to heal so that you can become who you are meant to be.
If you need help dealing with the trauma of racism and soothing the triggers, you can seek help. Maybe your business needs someone to talk about diversity, equity and inclusion.
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