Management of race in psychotherapy and supervision


Resident speaking to supervisor: This is a black patient who, like many others, is affected by the chronic, repeated televised images of black men killed by police. I am also a black man.

I think what I have shared is pertinent to the patient’s care and my experience as a black male psychiatrist who will need to learn how to address this in my patients who are black and for other racialized groups, as well as with whites who might have rarely been cared for by a black man. Can we discuss this?

We also anticipated that some residents would need to exercise their right to request reassignment to another supervisor. And, until we do better at listening, seeing, and deepening our understanding, outside and inside the consulting room and in supervision, more residents might need to steer around those who have the potential to undermine training and adversely affect treatment. But, as a professional medical community in crisis, do we really want to proceed in such an ad hoc fashion?

Dr. Dunlap is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, and clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at George Washington University. She is interested in the management of “difference” – race, gender, ethnicity, and intersectionality – in dyadic relationships and group dynamics; and the impact of racism on interpersonal relationships in institutional structures. Dr. Dunlap practices in Washington and has no disclosures.

Dr. Dennis is a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst. Her interests are in gender and ethnic diversity, health equity, and supervision and training. Dr. Dennis practices in Washington and has no disclosures.

Dr. DeSouza is a PGY-4 psychiatry resident and public psychiatry fellow in the department of psychiatry at Yale University, New Haven, Conn. Her professional interests include health services development and delivery in low- and middle-income settings, as well as the intersection of mental health and spirituality. She has no disclosures.

Dr. Isom is a staff psychiatrist at the Codman Square Health Center in Dorchester, Mass., and Boston Medical Center. Her interests include racial mental health equity and population health approaches to community psychiatry. She has no disclosures.

Dr. Mathis is an addictions fellow in the department of psychiatry at Yale University and former programwide chief resident at Yale. Her interests include the intersection of racial justice and mental health, health equity, and spirituality. She has no disclosures.


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