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(p. 91) Helping Clients Manage Microaggressions 

(p. 91) Helping Clients Manage Microaggressions
Chapter:
(p. 91) Helping Clients Manage Microaggressions
Author(s):

Monnica T. Williams

DOI:
10.1093/med-psych/9780190875237.003.0006
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date: 08 July 2020

Abstract: This chapter outlines what clinicians can do to help and support clients managing microaggressions. Ten steps are offered to help therapists respond effectively. Detailed examples of listening to a client of color who has experienced a microaggression, supporting a client of color who experienced a microaggression, and processing microaggressions experienced by a client of color are provided. Ongoing microaggressions can lead people of color to engage in maladaptive coping, such as remaining in denial, engaging in substance use, aggression, and self-blame; thus, it is important for therapists to recognize these and support clients to instead engage in adaptive and proactive coping strategies. A therapist can also support clients in how to respond effectively to microaggressions in their daily lives. It is not always possible or safe to respond to a microaggression, but clients should be encouraged to respond if they are able to do so safely. Strategies include making the microaggression more visible, disarming the microaggression, and educating the offender. Another way therapists can help is by encouraging and supporting clients in the exploration of their ethnoracial identities to help improve overall psychological well-being. However, therapists should pay careful attention if a client is unwilling to discuss microaggressions; rather than take it personally or pathologize the client, the therapist should openly acknowledge and validate the client’s mistrust. Microaggression discussion scenarios are outlined to help therapists; these scenarios include profiling by law enforcement, academic conflict, practicum student dress code conflict, and classroom confusion.

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