Woke Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is both a relationship and a service. This means that you should have a chance to consider whether the therapy relationship would work for you, and that you should have some confidence in its value before you begin. To find the right fit often requires talking with a number of therapists before deciding on a particular one. Here’s some information you may find useful to know about my treatment philosophy.

Freud once said “the Ego is first & foremost a body ego.” Yet psychodynamic theory & those of us who practice psychodynamic psychotherapy often avoid attending to the body. Potential patients may reasonably ask why it matters. I want to answer that for those of you living in the U.S. & considering therapy.

The United States is a nation that continues to reckon with its history of chattel slavery & current caste system, based on the hierarchization of bodily characteristics, i.e. race. Bodies in this country have been moved by immigration, transported, used and traded as goods, and in the case of indigenous bodies, invaded and infected.

Furthermore, bodies with differing qualities & abilities are marginalized in the phenomenon of ableism. Bodies are often the vehicle for expressing love & desire, their object choices & expressions limited by shame & taboo (homophobia, biphobia, kink-shaming.) Aging bodies are seen as less desirable & valuable (ageism.) Bodies are assigned genders at birth, responded to differently based on those genders, & attempts to redefine oneself & one’s body are met with resistance (sexism, transphobia.) Bodies are a vehicle of labor, & as such are often used, misused, & regulated (attacks on reproductive rights, trafficking.) Many of these attacks on the body intersect, & many are disproportionately directed at BIPOC people. Recently, we have seen an uptick in legislation which seeks to reduce if not undo the gains that we have been making in expanding freedoms which impact both the mind & body.

If the Ego is indeed first and foremost a body ego, if our self is embedded in a sociocultural context, then psychotherapy needs to take these issues of marginalization into account as part of our work together. The therapy that I strive to practice takes that into account. I am a lifelong learner & teacher of that principal as well, & regularly pursue further education on antiracism specifically and decolonizing psychotherapy in general. This synchs up very clearly in my mind to the importance of play & emerging technology in terms of increasing access, amplifying freedom & insight, & collapsing the time & space within which oppression exists. And, yes, the therapy I practice is “woke”—how could any therapy that strives to raise things up from the unconscious & increase insight not be?

This is not to say that one part of your identity will be fetishized in our work, but rather to say that you are specifically welcome. If you are a BIPOC patient looking for a psychotherapy which includes the possibility of identifying racial enactments & healing from race-based trauma you are welcome here. If you identify as trans or non-binary you are welcome here. If you are moving through the world with physical or invisible disabilities you are welcome here. If you identify as LGBTQIA you are welcome here. If you are seeking to unlearn racism or deepen your understanding of your whiteness as part of your treatment you are welcome here. If I cannot work with you, I will try to refer you to a psychotherapist who has a similar commitment.

Woke Psychotherapy - Mike Langlois, LICSW