Ally is a Verb

Ally is a Verb

Curt and Katie chat about how to engage in ally work. We look at white fragility, helpful and harmful responses during times of crisis, and how to leverage privilege appropriately to work to address systemic racism and oppression. We encourage people to step beyond keyboard warriorship and focusing on ourselves to taking actions that can impact real change.

It’s time to reimagine therapy and what it means to be a therapist. To support you as a whole person and a therapist, your hosts, Curt Widhalm and Katie Vernoy talk about how to approach the role of therapist in the modern age.

In this episode we talk about:

  • Latest incidences of systemic oppression (George Floyd, Christian Cooper) and how they have impacted the current conversations about racism, ally work, and therapy
  • White Fragility and how it can show up during times of crisis
  • How white women in distress distract
  • ALLY (from Kayla Reed):
    • A- always center the impacted
    • L- listen & learn from those who live in the oppression
    • L- leverage your privilege
    • Y-yield the floor
  • The need to identify positive ways to do anti-racist, ally work
  • Assessing your motivation to say things publicly
  • The lure of taking actions that only check a box or make us feel better
  • Discomfort and pain that we must sit in, if we’re going to really do the work
  • What can actually move the needle for systemic change
  • Amplifying voices versus shifting the focus or stepping in front of people who need to be heard
  • Bullying and bystanders
  • Learning and researching on our own, versus requiring clinicians of color to do the emotional labor of teaching us
  • Myths of being an ally
  • Therapists who are invested in the status quo and the white washing that happens when those types of comments are erased
  • The importance of acknowledging history (including racism) and whiteness
  • The difference between “all racists are bad people” and we are in a racist system and thus are all racist
  • The damage done when denying the past, gaslighting communities of color
  • Showing up as a white therapist with a client who is in a marginalized community
  • The need for cultural humility and awareness of what is going on
  • Recognizing reality and how we cannot just “cope” hard enough to make this goes away
  • Crisis management when you are working with risk factors (suicidality, homicidality, abuse) and the importance to understand the additional risk calling police or other government agencies on your clients within the black community
  • Alternatives for managing risk, looking at community resources
  • The challenges of doing ally work as a therapist
  • The slow and arduous process of treating overtly racist clients: listening to fears and perspective

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Resources mentioned:

We’ve pulled together resources mentioned in this episode and put together some handy-dandy links. Please note that some of the links below might be affiliate links, so if you purchase after clicking below, we may get a little bit of cash in our pockets. We thank you in advance!

White Fragility by Robin J. DiAngelo

ALLY Tweet from Kayla Reed

Kayla Reed’s Twitter Profile

5 Racist Anti-Racist Responses “Good” White Women Give to Viral Posts

75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice

How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

17 Myths About Being a Good Ally

Anti Racism On Ramp Resource Page

Ce Anderson

Therapy Reimagined 2020:

Therapy Reimagined 2020 Conference: Speakers!!

Therapy Reimagined 2020 Call for Sponsors

Relevant Episodes:

Let’s Talk About Race

Let’s Talk About Race Again

Black Mental Health

Privileged and Biased

The Person of the Therapist

Connect with us!

Our Facebook Group – The Modern Therapists Group

Get Notified About Therapy Reimagined 2020 (and TR2019 Virtual Conference)

Our consultation services:

The Fifty-Minute Hour

Who we are:

Curt Widhalm is in private practice in the Los Angeles area. He is the cofounder of the Therapy Reimagined conference, the CFO of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, an Adjunct Professor at Pepperdine University, a former Subject Matter Expert for the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, and a loving husband and father. He is 1/2 great person, 1/2 provocateur, and 1/2 geek, in that order. He dabbles in the dark art of making “dad jokes” and usually has a half-empty cup of coffee somewhere nearby. Learn more at:

Katie Vernoy is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, coach, and consultant supporting leaders, visionaries, executives, and helping professionals to create sustainable careers. Katie, with Curt, has developed workshops and a conference, Therapy Reimagined, to support therapists navigating through the modern challenges of this profession. Katie is also President of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. In her spare time, Katie is secretly siphoning off Curt’s youthful energy, so that she can take over the world. Learn more at:

A Quick Note:

Our opinions are our own. We are only speaking for ourselves – except when we speak for each other, or over each other. We’re working on it.

Our guests are also only speaking for themselves and have their own opinions. We aren’t trying to take their voice, and no one speaks for us either. Mostly because they don’t want to, but hey.

Stay in Touch:

Our Facebook Group – The Modern Therapist’s Group


Voice Over by DW McCann

Music by Crystal Grooms Mangano

2 replies
  1. Ce Anderson says:

    I am so thankful for the work that you both are doing to ACTIVELY dismantle the oppressive system. This is what it looks like in action. So many white therapist and laypersons desire to argue their privilege away instead of using it. It is okay to use it to inspire a shift!

    Great episode.



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