Restitution therapy is about providing therapy to blacks, browns and indigenous peoples as racial trauma is inherent in the experience of blacks, browns and indigenous people in this country. I want to offer people a safer space where costs don’t have to be an issue. Some people have had harmful, racist, and oppressive things happened at work and at school, and they bring them to therapy. It is difficult; it’s traumatic; they must be so vulnerable. And then as a clinician to say, “You have to talk about these things that you have no control over, that are systemic, that are still painful in our country, and then let me bill you for that too” – it just doesn’t fit correct.
A therapist named Tamara Turner and her colleague came up with the idea of therapy repair, and I adopted the idea and wanted to adapt it for my clients. It happened last June and it started in a place that felt really, really heavy. We experienced a pandemic in the midst of a racial uprising. As a black and gay therapist, I felt I was doing so much, but not enough. I said to myself, “What else can I do?” I found it unfair to talk to blacks, browns and indigenous peoples about racial trauma and oppression and to ask them to pay for it. It also didn’t feel fair as a black queer woman not to get paid for it. When the idea fell into my lap, I knew it was a way to make my work more impactful and meaningful by removing a huge barrier – cost – to therapy for blacks, browns and indigenous people. I’ve created a fund that people can donate to to pay for therapy costs. The money I receive enables me to offer free or discounted sessions to my black, brown, and indigenous clients.
Therapy reparations are not handouts or black, brown and indigenous people asking for donations. It is about the fact that there has been inequality in the history of this country. Therapy repairs mitigate some of the shit that happens to people in this country on a daily basis. A therapy repair may relieve someone. It’s not, “Oh, I’m going to do this because I feel sorry for you. Let me do it because I recognize that I have privileges and I feel bad about it. ”Not at all. We all have privileges, and the point of therapy redress is to recognize the oppression black, brown and indigenous peoples have suffered and continue to suffer, and to take a small step towards healing and atonement.
Therapy repairs are a great way to get people who have never been in therapy into therapy and people who can’t afford to think about therapy into therapy. In addition, it is also about ensuring that color therapists are fully compensated. These two things go hand in hand.