Is Therapy an Opiate of the Masses?

Is Therapy an Opiate of the Masses?

Curt and Katie chat about how therapy can collude with the status quo and has historically failed to serve marginalized populations. We talk about the risks of therapy that doesn’t honor the context and systems within which people and families operate. We look at how therapists can create complacence and obedience if not careful.

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:

  • Criticisms of therapy as an opiate of the masses
  • Does therapy reinforce the status quo?
  • “Normal” as a culture bound concept
  • Feminist Therapy, Liberation Psychology, Decolonized Therapy
  • The history of pathologizing or demonizing LGBTQ+
  • Therapy as a white construct
  • Bias in MMPI and re-norming
  • How bias toward “normal” permeates clinical work
  • How therapists reinforce systems norms, encouraging placating the system
  • First, Second, and Third Order change – Individual within family within the systems within which the family operates
  • Individual versus collective change
  • The challenge of assessing and treating within the complex overlay of systems
  • The limitations of evidence-based treatments
  • The vision of acceptance of diversity
  • Therapist training gaps
  • The Seven-Eyed Model of Supervision
  • Impacts for case conceptualization
  • Looking at clients as agents of change, as impacted by their context
  • Validating experiences, increasing resilience and capacity, empowering client to make larger changes
  • Suggesting coping skills without diminishing systemic impacts
  • Therapy as a bandaid
  • “As therapists, we can do a really good job of moving people to complacence if we’re not careful.” – Katie
  • Helping individuals to heal, then moving to “now that”
  • The requirement for therapists to be advocates for change within their communities

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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!

The Prostitution of Psychotherapy: A Feminist Critique

Third-Order Thinking in Family Therapy: Addressing Social Justice Across Family Therapy Practice

Seven-Eyed Model of Supervision

Decolonizing Therapy on Instagram

Prevention of farmer suicides: Greater need for state role than for a mental health professional’s role

Therapy Reimagined 2020:

Therapy Reimagined 2020 Conference

Therapy Reimagined 2020 Call for Sponsors

Relevant Episodes:

Therapy as a Political Act

Is CBT Crap?

Defining the Therapy Movement

Interview with Dr. Harry Aponte: The Person of the Therapist

Interview with Dr. Joel Schwarz: Neurodivergence

Interview with Dr. Jamie Marich: Exploring Trauma and the 12 Steps

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

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