Heading for the Hills: My Departure from the Mental Health Profession

As I write this, I struggle to find words to offer that would be particularly helpful to those either choosing to enter or maintain careers in counseling related professions. I recently resigned (quit under threat of termination is more like it) from my post after several years of practice. This will be more of a cautionary tale for those who haven’t yet woke to the supposed reality of our racially unjust, fascist dystopian world. To our bewilderment, the Allies must have somehow lost World War II and the civil rights movement never took place.

In all seriousness though, the narrative now being pushed in the field is as if that modern Western developed society is closer to that alternate reality than what we actually reside in. My former colleagues, supervisor, and indeed the organization itself was promoting this propaganda for years. 

While I had already been concerned over remarks made by my colleagues, the first moment of significant apprehension arose from a workshop on microagressions. Surrounded by some rather furious embroiderers, I immediately began feeling a sense that I was an outsider there. One of the assistant facilitators for our group often turned to me with suspicious eyes and asked probing questions about my past experiences. At one point, we were split into smaller discussion groups and I found myself with two women who decided for some reason to speak down to me in a patronizing way, all the while with smirks on their faces. I asked a facilitator a clarifying question about one of the activities we were tasked with and the only response was a look of disgust.

A woman later stood up to rant about how white men were at fault for “aggressing” against women and minority groups but neglected to explain how that was actually happening. The facilitators validated that perspective and were quick to dismiss any contrary information, such as a moment where an attendee shared an experience of racism against herself as a white woman. It was impossible, they claimed, for white-skinned individuals to experience racism of any kind. The worksheets they handed out, along with the PowerPoint slides that were shown, made clear that racism was “Power + Prejudice” and only white people of European descent are guilty of such behavior. Guilt was assigned/assumed for all white “colonizers” everywhere and indirectly to anyone considered complicit (i.e. any POC that claims to benefit from the system). Before the workshop ended, my boss declared “ignorance” after my apparently unsatisfactory answer to a question.

After a few hours of hearing how implicitly racist I must be, it was apparent that most people in the room at the time saw me as an oppressor. I might as well have carried a whip and wore old confederate attire into the workshop. It was from that point forward that I realized just how radical the work environment was becoming.

Needless to say, the years following proved no better. In my office, one could hear endless barrages of comments about Trump (and anyone associated with him), white people, men, capitalism, and every other kind of ism/phobia in the book. Material with a clear political bias was frequently disseminated to the team in the form of articles, slides, and slogans posted in and around the office. Socialism was considered the antidote to their grievances. Considering oneself an individual was now a form of white supremacy. So essentially, viewing our clients as individuals capable of self-sufficiency was no longer permissible. Their group identity and perceived victim status was paramount to determine how we were to deliver services.

The first time I dared to speak up to my supervisor about how politically charged the atmosphere was, I was ignored. In fact, I was immediately provided an article to read about how our society should embrace collectivism. I carefully pushed back on that but went no further. I decided it was best to remain silent like I had been up to that point.

Time went on and things became unbearable. Surely, it was very comfortable for those around me who all seemed to agree with the direction we were headed and were free to speak their mind no matter how inappropriate their comments were. My own mental health was impacted and the desire to continue my career path was eroding away. I wasn’t welcome there.

I continued my silence with my team but chose to make my concerns heard by the HR department. Well, heard they were not. They didn’t respond until I followed up an eternity later. The response was predictable in its denial.

The death of George Floyd was a point of no return. Assumptions were made and conclusions were jumped to (thanks in large part to the media). It was the moment that served to reinforce the views for fringe types, much like those I worked with. My supervisor appeared to revel in this news, foretelling of imminent and justified riots. It wasn’t long afterwards that certain books became required reading. Apparently, it was no longer enough to support our clients alone. We were now tasked with saving society from its racist ways. There is now only racist and antiracist views. Black and white, night and day, for and against. This sentiment could be extended to anything else they see as wrong with Western culture such as the nebulous but all-present, oppressive patriarchy.

The organization as a whole now actively endorsed BLM, mandated that employees act toward “equity”, and sent regular emails stating their political views. I knew I was on my way out. It was only a matter of time now.

I finally broke my silence with my colleagues and shared my thoughts on what was occurring. I did so without calling anyone out and requested that their book club be taken outside of work. The idea was to help them understand how their actions promote groupthink and potentially alienate others; that not everyone subscribes to a particular viewpoint. You know, advocating for true diversity and inclusion. That act of speaking up sealed my fate. My supervisor brought that to the attention of the CEO and other bigwigs in the organization and before I know it I’m on a performance improvement plan. For those who don’t understand what that means, it’s a sign to dust off your resume. I should note that my supervisor didn’t really care for me given unrelated reasons (that feeling was mutual) so this was a convenient catalyst for my removal.

I resigned shortly afterwards. To stay would have meant being subject to “diversity coaching”, to have all of my client cases audited (which would have destroyed rapport with them), and to be required to attend more controversial book readings – only to be fired anyways when my supervisor determines that I’m not woke enough and somehow a threat to cohesion.

There you have it. This is the new Marxist movement/woke inquisition/whatever one wants to call it that is taking over areas of the healthcare industry. It’s no different than what has evidently occurred in academia and swaths of the corporate world. I will say that I live in a very left-leaning area of the country so it’s plausible that it hasn’t spread to all places yet. I certainly hope that’s the case. The idea that this will be the new guiding framework for working with vulnerable people is terrifying.

For current or prospective counselors, case workers, supports, etc.. If you work for an employer promoting this nonsense, the way I see it you have three options:

  1. Keep your head down and play the part until you’re able to establish a private practice. If that’s not doable/the goal, I’d really consider other options.
  2. Speak up. Refuse to stay silent. Do know that this will likely lead to #3.
  3. Start looking for another job and head for the hills as fast as possible.

Good luck!