Cultural Humility and White Fatigue

Cultural Humility and White Fatigue

An interview with Dr. Sonya Lott about a multicultural orientation to therapy and the work to understand yourself, how you’re perceived, and who the client is in front of you. Curt and Katie talk with Sonya about cultural humility in particular as well as the fatigue (including the concept of “white fatigue”) that can come with this work. We look at self-compassion and education as promising steps for improvement.

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.

Interview with Dr. Sonya Lott, Ph.D.

Sonya Lott earned her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Temple University and has been licensed as a psychologist in Pennsylvania since 1991. She is also a registered in Florida as out-of-state telehealth provider.

She is the founder and CEO of CEMPSYCH, LLC (Continuing Education in Multicultural Psychology), which offers continuing education that supports mental health professionals in cultivating a multicultural orientation, and is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. She also serves on the Advisory Board of Whites Confronting Racism, an organization in Philadelphia that works with White people who desire to challenge the racism within and around them and who are searching for a way to strengthen their work for racial justice.

In addition to this work, she maintains a private practice devoted to helping individuals transform their experience of acute and prolonged grief. She is an associate of the Center for Complicated Grief at Columbia University’s School of Social Work, where she completed advanced training in Complicated Grief Therapy (CGT).

You can learn more about her work at and

In this episode we talk about:

  • Multicultural approach – looking at all elements of cultural identity
  • Dominance, privilege, and bias
  • The importance of seeing beyond their lived
  • The multicultural orientation is a way of being
  • Cultural Humility – organizing virtue
  • Recognizing cultural opportunities
  • Invitation for discussion
  • Microaggressions in the therapy room
  • Comfort in making repairs
  • Being aware of who you are and where you sit with marginalization and with privilege
  • “Every experience is a multicultural experience” – Dr. Sonya Lott
  • Know who you are to yourself and to others – it is important to understand how you are perceived by others
  • The difference between white fragility and white fatigue
  • With privilege you have an opt-out card
  • The work of healing marginalization is a felt process
  • “It’s more than ‘what’s a good book to read?’” – Dr. Sonya Lott
  • Self-compassion and self-care needed for doing this work
  • Seeing ourselves as human and recognizing that we don’t have all of the answers
  • Recognizing what is relevant in the room
  • Self-Compassion: shared humanity, mindfulness, and loving kindness
  • “It’s not just for your clients, it’s not just to make a living, it’s to transform your way of being – period – that benefits you and everybody you’re in relationship with.”
  • Why the therapy profession doesn’t get this right – because they don’t have to.
  • The fifty years of literature on this topic that is often ignored due to people not being informed, not comfortable, and not having done their own work

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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 may 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!

CEM Psych website:

Special Offer from Dr. Sonya Lott for one of her courses – coupon code for 10% off at checkout: tenmtsg

Dr. Sonya Lott’s website:

Multicultural Orientation Article

Cultural Humility

An Article on White Fatigue

Self-Compassion – Kristen Neff

Relevant Episodes:

Ally is a Verb

Dr. Daryl Chow: Reigniting Therapy

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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 Past 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:

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Voice Over by DW McCann

Music by Crystal Grooms Mangano

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