Somatic Therapy Trainers Embrace Critical Social Justice, an Ideology that Discounts the Significance of Biology

Here is one example of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy providing CSJ-driven trainings for practitioners (there are many examples from other body-mind approaches) . How do they reconcile its collectivist worldview and dismissal of biological reality with a therapeutic approach that is grounded in the body? Do they not grasp the irony of this: they are teaching practitioners/ clients to accept a reprogrammming which overrides paying attention to intuitive communications from the bodymind. ‘Microaggressions’ being a case in point. Are they teaching that the claim of ‘microaggression’ should trump any uneasy feeling that maybe, just maybe, there are other motivations, other explanations for what is happening between people? Below is the course description taken from the website, Therapy Wisdom

Dear Friends,

Since the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many more, racial trauma is increasingly being recognized by the mainstream as a threat that people of color face on a daily basis.

Even the conservative Wall Street Journal recently published an article A Growing Push to Treat Racism’s Impact on Mental Health highlighting the effects of racism on the black community and their mental health.

In the context of racism and threats of violence, people of color experience threat on a daily basis in the form of “microaggressions.” As is true for battered wives or abused children or soldiers in wartime, danger is ever-present even when nothing frightening appears to be happening.

The three of us have joined together—Janina Fisher, Debra Chatman-Finley, and Gliceria Pérez—to share our perspectives as women of different colors walking through our current world. We feel that we embody the differences we plan to discuss in this program.

Over the course of three weeks, we will look at the role we play as therapists when dealing with microaggressions and racial trauma. We will ask ourselves:

How does racial trauma show up in the therapy room?
Do you find it difficult to validate or empathize with the experiences of your clients of color?
What has prevented therapists from recognizing its effects for so long?

After the traumatic death of Floyd, many people experienced an “A-ha!” moment, and these moments are when people are most open and willing to take in new information.

We want to take advantage of this openness and receptivity by creating an outlet for people to make sense of everything that’s happened in the past few months and get a better perspective on those events. This is also a safe place for all groups to vocalize their thoughts and feelings.

The goal of this course is to help everyone understand the experiences of people of color. When we see color and embrace our differences, we can work together to mend the inequalities in our world today.

We invite all races and groups to join us for this important and timely mini-course.

Warm Regards,

Janina Fisher, PhD
Debra Chatman-Finley, LPC, NCC
Gliceria Pérez, LCSW


  1. This whole thing with race / trauma could be so much more than these CSJ people make it. There’s actual interesting biology to be learned regarding the influence of intergenerational trauma on the brain – particularly what symbols and triggers we might have been imprinted to respond to from birth, or from epigenetics. It’s an open research question — could the effects of slavery, traumatic as it was, have downstream impacts on slave descendants that are deep in their neurology? Could simply being a conquered people…the members of a society that were captured…mean something about your predisposition and thus, should we learn as much as we can about this so present-day Black Americans don’t have to suffer? There’s so much actual interesting real science to be learned about “racial trauma” but instead they water the whole thing down to “The answers to all of these rhetorical questions is, ‘Everyone is racist.’ ” It’s just such a dropped ball for what could finally be a real answer to these people’s complaints/observations.

    It’s hard to tell which of the activists are actually consciously unconcerned with real answers and just want destruction of American society — and which ones are just really dumb, emotion-driven do-gooders who really think social justice will fix everything.

  2. I look at the concept of microaggressions through a CBT lens. We all have moments when we don’t like something someone has said or done. Just a few weeks ago I brought something for a return and I saw a look on the clerk’s face and a private discussion between coworkers about my transaction and I felt quite small. I remember being pregnant and a woman patting my belly in a store. I’ve had bosses that I have felt treated me unfairly. If I was a person of colour, I wonder if critical social justice teachings would encourage me to think of those things as being about my race. As it is, I don’t make that leap, although sometimes I still take things personally. CBT helps me to examine when I am making assumptions about other people. CSJ would seem to uphold these assumptions as being true. That’s not good for mental health.

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