Decolonizing Mental Health
By Martha Stebbins-Aguiñiga
You and I meet today in order to support you in your journey toward wellness. You may be a caregiver, a child, a spouse, a family member, a friend, an individual. You may know yourself to be in a variety of intersecting roles within family, within community, and within yourself. I welcome all of you, every one of your identities, and I offer my sincere respect for the courage it takes to reach out when it is time for something to change.
We can make anything you want out of this journey together where your healing will be central. However, every meaningful relationship begins with honesty. I will acknowledge that I have inevitably intersected in many ways with the colonized, euro-centric, white supremacy practices that have plagued the mental health profession until to-date. Historically, people – many of them BIPOC, LGBTQI+ people and others who were too vulnerable to protect themselves – have been harmed and the systems that have upheld these colonized practices have not worked hard enough to restore justice to those it has impacted. If you are here holding doubt or skepticism about how a mental health professional may be able to honor you and support you, you are not alone. The pathologizing and judgement attributed to traditionally marginalized communities has generated a protective response within people and families that has become embedded in the communal wisdom passed on from generation to generation. People have said to me “I don’t trust you”, and “therapists have never helped us”. I respect those words and the dignity they uphold.
In response to a legacy of colonized and unjust practices, I offer my work with a clear stance against any practices that do not center the voices of those who come to seek support. I will invite my community to stand with me in holding the responsibility of embracing and uplifting the people that historically have not been welcomed in the full expression of their existence and participation.
Mente Counseling & Consultation is committed to listening to the stories of people who have shouldered the burden of systemic and economic oppression; who have endured the legacy of slavery, genocide, family separation, forced relocation, mass incarceration, red lining and all other practices, policies and institutions that have traumatized families for generations. Your resiliency and healing will be our priority, and it will be your voice – as well as that of your wise ancestry – that will build the road toward your liberation. We will support you on your journey, but never as colonizers.
Written with guidance from :