White Terrorism and Therapy

White Terrorism and Therapy

Curt and Katie chat about the attack on the US Capitol by radicalized Trump supporters. We talk about the role therapists play in addressing white supremacist terrorism, how to support clients in responding to a domestic terror attack, and what therapy looks like for clients who are impacted by Trump supporters or extremist rhetoric and conspiracy theories. We also talk about the challenge of finding compassion, the need for thoughtful communication, and ideas about how to move forward.

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.


Click here to scroll to the podcast transcript.

In this episode we talk about radicalization and therapy:

  • White Supremacy Terrorism, Domestic Terrorism, and the definition of Terrorism
  • The evolving threat of White Supremacy
  • Our responses to the domestic terrorism activity, the insurrection at the Capitol
  • Processing the event in real time during sessions, with clients with double screen
  • The lack of definition in the role of therapists during this time

“This is more of a how do we how do we process? How do we stay present? What level of fear is is healthy to be having right now? And what…can we let go of?” – Katie Vernoy

  • Thoughts related to people connecting violence to mental illness
  • QAnon, other groups and the need to understand what they are, the signs
  • The different types of clients coming into our office and how to support them
  • Dealing with the “white stuff” like white apathy, being further removed from the events
  • Susceptibility to political reactionism
  • Trauma around safety, responses to the lack of equity, vulnerability, marginalization
  • The importance of opening conversations and allowing clients to fully express their experience
  • Supporting clients who have been pushed away from Trump supporters among family or friends
  • Self-Identity versus Family-Identity
  • Responding to divisive messages
  • The complexity of interacting with someone who has been radicalized
  • The need for community and connection to shift the culture
  • What to do when a client who is in the process of being radicalized enters your therapy office
  • The harm of “what about-ism”
  • Risk factors for radicalization
  • Conversations beyond Tarasoff and safety planning
  • Desire for connection, attachment needs
  • Simplicity of radicalized rhetoric and the goal to dig deeper into underlying needs and goal
  • The possibility of therapy as a counter to the division

“You can’t do it alone, full stop. That these are conversations that takes a village, it takes a lot of people to shift the sociological culture.” – Curt Widhalm

  • Societal change, needed messaging, taking care of disenfranchised folks
  • We are pro-human
  • The need for compassionate communication
  • Making things real to people who are disconnected and have the option to opt out, so they choose and can re-engage in the societal change that is needed
  • A reminder to take care of yourselves as therapists during this time

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Resources for Modern Therapists mentioned in this Podcast Episode:

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!

FBI definition of Terrorism

Article: Terrorists are only Muslim but Never White: At the Intersection of Critical Race Theory and Propaganda

Article: The Guardian – White Supremacy as the biggest threat to the US

Article: Whiteness on the Couch

Article: White Supremacy and Counseling Psychology

Article: Therapy Den – How to Take Care of Yourself in the face of White Supremacist Terror

Relevant Episodes of MTSG Podcast:

Mass Shooters and Mental Illness

Ally is a Verb

Therapy as a Political Act

Treating Political Reactionism and the War on Science

Iran, The News, and Your Clients

Who we are:

Picture of Curt Widhalm, LMFT, co-host of the Modern Therapist's Survival Guide podcast; a nice young man with a glorious beard.Curt Widhalm, LMFT

Curt Widhalm is in private practice in the Los Angeles area. He is the cofounder of the Therapy Reimagined conference, an Adjunct Professor at Pepperdine University and CSUN, a former Subject Matter Expert for the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, former CFO of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, 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: http://www.curtwidhalm.com

Picture of Katie Vernoy, LMFT, co-host of the Modern Therapist's Survival Guide podcastKatie Vernoy, LMFT

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 a former 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: http://www.katievernoy.com

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 with Curt, Katie, and the whole Therapy Reimagined #TherapyMovement:


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Connect with the Modern Therapist Community:

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Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide Creative Credits:

Voice Over by DW McCann https://www.facebook.com/McCannDW/

Music by Crystal Grooms Mangano https://groomsymusic.com/

Transcript for this episode of the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide podcast (Autogenerated):

Curt Widhalm 0:00
This episode is brought to you by betweensessions.com.

Katie Vernoy 0:03
BetweenSessions.com is the number one website providing tools to accelerate client growth. The website offers over 2,000 therapy tools available as instant downloads for children, teens, adults and couples. Your membership to Between Sessions also includes our psychology forms filler, which allows you to modify and edit any of our tools and send them to your clients who can then fill them out online.

Curt Widhalm 0:25
Listen to the end of the episode for a special 10% discount on any memberships to betweensessions.com

Announcer 0:31
You’re listening to The Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide, where therapists live, breathe, and practice as human beings. To support you as a whole person and a therapist, here are your hosts, Curt Widhalm and Katie Vernoy.

Curt Widhalm 0:45
Welcome back modern therapists. This is the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide. I’m Curt Widhalm with Katie Vernoy. And we wanted to touch on the things happening in America right now, and all of the fallout from the insurrection at the US Capitol and the various conversations that we’ve been seeing and having ourselves trying to make sense of a worlds both as mental health practitioners but also as the people who occupy those roles and seeing a lot of difficult conversations arise. I’m aware of conversations on all sides of the spectrum as I have been spending my time maybe not the most wisely poking around various parts of the internet, trying to understand the viewpoints that people are coming from and Katie, and I decided that we would pop in with a quick turnaround episode here as far as what is going on in the world? How do we react as clinicians? How do we react with our clients and the other peoples in our lives, while taking care of ourselves? And I don’t have a great segue to hand this over to Katie, after the introduction. So Katie, go ahead.

Katie Vernoy 2:04
Well, I just want to acknowledge that what we’re talking about is, in truth, white supremacy terrorism, and terrorism, that domestic terrorism that has been exploding in the last several years, there’s been a lot more terrorism, white supremacy, terrorism has been identified as one of the biggest threats that our country faces. And just to quickly, give a definition, the FBI defines domestic terrorism as violent criminal acts committed by individuals and or groups to further ideological goals stemming from domestic influences, such as those of a political, religious, social, racial, or environmental nature. And so in our preparation, Curt, when we were talking about this earlier, I felt like there was trying to get our heads around, what is it that we’re actually talking about? And I don’t know that we need to define it necessarily more than that, because I think it is this evolving threat that we face that we feel certainly seeing, and I’m going to try not to get emotional Confederate flags and camp Auschwitz T-shirts, and you know, whatever the the other white supremacist signs that were being waved at the Capitol, inside the Capitol, was very disturbing for many of us and for our clients as well. And I think there was also a lot that was said where this was the stated intent was to steal back the election. I don’t even know what kind of…

Curt Widhalm 3:47
Stop the steal.

Katie Vernoy 3:48
Stop the steal. But what was clearly underneath a lot of the folks who were there was this ideological, white supremacy that is, is hard to take in. I don’t know that it was a surprise. It was shocking, but not a surprise. I certainly know that this is something that we’ve been looking at and seeing for a number of years and definitely has been put forward, as I guess, acceptable by President Trump. But I think it’s something where the goal today is to not necessarily dig deeply into what is terrorism. Although, you know, clearly, calling white people terrorists is not something that is commonly done. There’s an article that I’ll link to in the show notes that explains that Muslims are called terrorisms and white people are not called terrorists, and how that has negatively impacted our safety, but more kind of the response that we as a society are having because it’s going to be us as therapists as well as the folks in our room. And so, I’m just going to start with my response last week was one of disconnection and I was on vacation. And I felt very guilty about not being present for my clients, I also felt very relieved. And also some guilt at that relief at not having to be present for my clients. Obviously, the conversations have, you know, this week when I’ve been back have been very rich with trauma and sadness and and many other things to process but I, I wasn’t sure how to take it in. And, and as we were talking and trying to figure out how to what do we do with this, what is our action that we can take? We landed on, let’s let’s talk about it. Let’s talk about what therapists can do on this time.

Curt Widhalm 5:44
Unlike, Katie, I was working on the day that this was happening. And I will put that day as probably one of the top five toughest days of actually working with clients. And either based on very, you know, in the news events, you know, Sandy Hook shooting was a day that was very difficult, or personal events, but going through and, and especially working in telehealth of people’s abilities to second screen while this is going on, and to be processing with them while they’re clicking off of therapy sessions, and going into the news and processing in real time together is a way that telehealth has not prepared us to be able to do.

Katie Vernoy 6:30

Curt Widhalm 6:32
It was very strange to see the wide response of clients based on the people in my practice. And I’ll talk about some of that as this episode goes on here. But it my background, I have a background in sociology, I have another Master’s degree in criminal justice. So I have training both on the mental health side, but also in kind of the systemic views of how this develops. And then also just kind of a personal interest in studying kind of the makings of this and we did an episode a while ago in the making of a mass shooter that some of this will echo, and we’ll link to that in our show notes. But our role in this is not necessarily defined, that when it comes to the things that we do, we hear in the news, this is you know, if it’s a white person, it’s a mental health issue. But there also becomes a philosophical question of, if there’s enough people doing this, as with the riots at the Capitol, you can’t diagnose just a whole group of people with, you know, shared delusional disorder, that they’re not the ones showing up in our office, but the ones who are showing up in our office are the ones that we need to continue to respond to, we have this push pull of needing to be aware of everything that’s going on in the news without driving ourselves crazy, we need to understand enough of what Q anon is to be able to recognize it as it comes up in our offices. We also need the downtime to be able to not be entirely focused on this stuff.

Katie Vernoy 8:19
Yeah. Yeah. I think that there, there’s we have a lot of different episodes on kind of activism and, and ways to respond to society outside of the the therapy room. And so I don’t think we need to go into that here. And so maybe what we can do is focus in on kind of each layer of people who are going to be coming into our offices, because I think that the, the clients that I’ve talked to so far are one of two, and I know you have kind of the third. And so the first one is someone who is unrelated to anyone who is been radicalized or, or is in the process of that or even just, you know, their, their their circles are aligned with them politically, mostly progressive, and they’re just looking at what’s happening in the world, culminating in the attack on the Capitol, from a place of an individual, whether it’s a specific response to the white supremacy and the ways in which these rioters were treated differently than the Black Lives Matters people, whether it’s what it means even just the the attack on the people’s house, and the vicarious trauma and then also different ages, some people are reflecting on the Oklahoma City bombing. Some people are looking at 911 Some people are looking at some of the other at the Charlottesville, I mean, there’s people that are are pulling together some of these things and it’s it’s expanding on it and I think these are things that we we’ve talked about before but I think it’s it’s This is more of a how do we how do we process? How do we stay present? What is what What level of fear is is healthy to be having right now? And what? What can we let go of? How are you responding to those folks, the other two are people that have family members or friends or people who they know that or are in these other things. And then also having Trump supporters, radicalized folks, Q Anon believers, all those things coming into our office. So let’s start with the folks that are a little bit further removed. And this is, this is the people coming into our office who are feeling unsettled, at the very least by what happened at the Capitol.

Curt Widhalm 10:40
In kind of these three groups, I’m also going to introduce there’s three different conceptualizations of how to work through this.

Katie Vernoy 10:47

Curt Widhalm 10:48
This group that you’re talking about, is a group with probably the most complex of the three responses that I’m going to bring up with. And I’m going to call this group, the ones that have to deal with their own white apathy. The ones who are for the first times in their lives having to really recognize and respond to that their life is one amongst many, that the ways that they have been able to stay distant from things that they’ve been able to opt out of the news. But this actually feels like a attack on them. Maybe the first time that they felt this way, since 9-11 if they are old enough. My clientele tends to skew quite a bit younger than that. But these are the people who often turn into the second two groups that you’re talking about, left unchecked. And so a lot of the deeper process that ends up coming into this is dealing with these feelings of reactionism. And we had the episode with Tereza about political reactionism, but it’s getting people to recognize that they have a ability to choose how to respond. And it’s with deeper, slower thought into what this is that it’s not just operating out of raw emotion, reactionism, but it’s coming back to their own moral development in choosing how they can perceive of a situation, choosing what kinds of existential questions that they want answered for themselves as an individual. That is a longer deeper, slower type work that hopefully helps to prevent some of these other bigger extremist sort of movements that we’ve seen lead to the formation of some of this kind of stuff in the first place.

Katie Vernoy 12:45
I definitely had some clients who are talking about their response as a white person and kind of dealing with the white stuff, I think is kind of how it was put in one of the sessions, and it was looking at what it means to be a white person, what it, you know, kind of the, in your face, if you’re not, you know, using some distortions to kind of keep it as an othered or an okay, practice, like just seeing the stark reality of the difference in how white terrorists are treated, than BIPOC peaceful protesters, I mean, I think there was definitely that a lot of my clients actually fall into more marginalized groups. And so there was also the trauma around that just being on display, and the responses and even the nuance of responses of this is not us. And it’s like, well, it’s kind of us. It’s It is us, it is what we’ve allowed to happen. It is something that is very pervasive. And so I think there was also some of the folks were, were being impacted by other types of racism, sexism, you know, homophobia, that that has been throughout their life where they’ve, they’ve ended up feeling attacked in that way. And so there was a vulnerability and a fear because of their othering. The otherness of them, that this was those put them at risk, even in places that seem safe. And so I think there’s, there’s so much I mean, there’s so many different types of folks respond to this. They have that everybody has their own history, but I think it’s really important to have these longer conversations and to dig deeply into what is it that they’re responding to what is their experience and what what risks are they actually facing whether it’s a risk of radicalization and solidifying into more of a white supremacist, white reactionary framework, but also for folks who were not white or are marginalized in some way. What specifically are they experiencing in this moment, it could just be like Meh. Well, that’s what I expected. And it could be hugely terrified, and fearful for their lives, the lives of their family members of people they love. And so I think it’s, it feels very present. And certainly I think there’s, you know, we’ve we had an episode Iran, The News and Your Clients, I think, and certainly we have some other conversations that are forthcoming about when terrorist attacks happen that are not, you know, quote unquote, Muslim terrorists, which is kind of what is always characterized. I think there’s also for, for people who are either Muslim, or are considered visually Muslim, for whatever reason, and I know that that’s part of the problem is this stereotype at folks who are stereotyped into that role? There’s there is trauma there. And so I, you know, we have other conversations that people can go to, but I think people who aren’t directly related to someone who was there, not related to someone who was appreciative of the the radicalized movement to stop the steal, I think they still are, there’s still a very big chance that there is a huge response they’re having, and I want to make sure just to kind of honor that. But I think that’s kind of therapy in 2020-2021, is we’ve got people that have complex reactions to things going on, I guess. The next piece, which I think is really important, is the folks who have family members. And I know, I’ve got more than one person who has family members who are pushing them away, who are, who are very strongly pro Trump, and, you know, that is destroying families. And I don’t, you know, it’s like, how do we support those folks on our room, I guess, is the other element to that.

Curt Widhalm 17:04
Again, it comes down to normalizing what they’re going through, normalizing the feelings of that, that Katie and I are both marriage and family therapists and being good Bowenian sort of thinkers in the sometimes you need that emotional cut off in order to like, do your own thing. Well, not everybody is afforded that opportunity to really separate themselves out. But the one thing that COVID has done is it’s helps keep people hopefully, fingers crossed from having, you know, political conversations over Thanksgiving or other holiday dinners, that man this year would have led to some really big things. But those things are happening online now. That it really comes down to being able to manage self identity from family identity. And so much of all of this reaction is coming down to defining identity, whether it’s political identity, whether it’s anything else, it’s being able to separate self from the family definition of what you should be. And not only are there clients, I have family members, myself, who fall all over this debate. I do enough of this at work that I’m not like engaging a whole lot online with people these days, because it’s just driving me to constantly feeling on and constantly needing to debate people who don’t want to be in a debate, they just want to win.

Katie Vernoy 18:48

Curt Widhalm 18:48
And this is helping clients recognize that same sort of process, that it’s doing all of the emotional work in ways that are ineffective for people who don’t want to hear it. And being able to turn the focus on correcting other people into being able to take care of themselves. And this kind of a work is really dependent on how dependent they are on these family members. For somebody who’s grown adults who’s launched away from their family potentially has family of their own, it is a lot easier than it is for a teen or a tween who’s still stuck with a older sibling or a parent who’s encouraging this kind of rhetoric. And so it’s being able to identify what they have control over, being able to exercise that and let the other people in their lives to a certain degree of safety, not influence them into reacting just out of that raw emotional state again.

Katie Vernoy 19:58
And I think that’s the part that gets really hard is I look at a lot of the ways that that even within therapists groups on Facebook or within just social media as a whole, when there is such a strong, divisive message and us against them, the zero sum game, the stuff that happens in these white supremacist radicalist kind of situations, there is a counterpoint that is also very angry, and rightfully so. But also, you know, there’s not a there’s not a space to get to compromise healing care. I mean, I think it’s, I don’t know the answer. And so that’s, you know, that’s why I’m struggling a little bit to try to put it into words, but, but there are folks who are like, I have to cut it off, I have to set boundaries, I have to, I have to, you know, counter every argument, I have to, I cannot let this stand. And I think there’s some truth in that. But that also perpetuates the division and the arguments and those things. And so I think there are folks who are looking at, I have someone who, I’m worried is not just a Trump supporter, but is radicalizing. And I can’t, I can’t find compassion in myself for them, I can’t find a way to connect with them. And if and we can set limits around how we healthfully keep our own boundaries and support our own mental health. But it also then further cuts that person off, and it potentially makes the situation worse kind of societally, or and within the family. And so I think there’s, there’s huge challenges, because people have to get their heads around, do I not say something and keep the peace so that I can sustain these relationships? But am I then tacitly accepting some of this stuff that I feel is very dangerous or racist? Or, you know, all the other problems that comes with this rhetoric? Or do I fight it which doesn’t seem to work anyway? I feel like people are feeling especially hopeless, even if they have their own families, there’s, there’s this potential loss of their family of origin. I mean, there’s just so much stuff that becomes hugely impactful. And and, and again, I think there’s probably more conversations we can have about how do you help someone get out of a radical terrorist cult? I mean, like, I think there’s, there’s potentially an interview that we need to do there. But I think it’s, it’s recognizing this, this heart rending situation, and understanding the impact we can have as therapists, if we don’t actually get past our own anger, and be able to sit in the curiosity, and the warmth and connection that that might be needed for these folks who will either determining whether they join their family members, call them out or cut them off. I mean, I think it’s, it’s a lot. And I think compassion can be especially hard when we’re all feeling like we’re running on empty.

Curt Widhalm 23:14
I give really hard advice to clients facing this, and I am giving this to all of you as well. You can’t do it alone, full stop. That these are conversations that takes a village, it takes a lot of people to shift the sociological culture. And one thing that has happened with the internet and with social media is that people on especially this extremist, and have done very, very effectively is use the internet to create a home for people who have otherwise been ostracized by family members.

Katie Vernoy 23:56

Curt Widhalm 23:57
And you know, any of the things that we see in the news, this person fell through the mental health cracks. This is where our job philosophically as therapists is to understand and recognize those people who have been ostracized earlier. And I know that we’re going to talk about a couple of my clients who fall into this historically that having known some of the pressures that have led to this this is not a brand new thing. This is stuff that has it’s I don’t know roots in the 1600s that has played out over several centuries, but it’s being able to identify where these people are coming from in their reactionism. That you are either in your personal life or is it professional, the one who recognizes this and arguing against them is not doing what works, it’s not doing anything other than driving them further to looking for a place where their ideas feel safe.

Katie Vernoy 25:06
Whether understood and accepted.

Curt Widhalm 25:08
Yes. And this leads to that third group that you’re talking about, which is those who are fully engaging in this. And these are the people who have long bought into this idea of us versus them. And this group of people, and at this point in time in our history, we’re talking about the extreme right. There are extremist groups and all of history, we are not here to talk about, what aboutism. We’re talking about this group.

Katie Vernoy 25:40

Curt Widhalm 25:41
And the reason that I say that is, that is one of the tactics that is used to further justify their position in this, is there is always a counter example. You know, we’re hearing about, what about the BLM protests last summer? I’m, I’m not going to engage in every false equivalency with clients or with people who want to debate on this, because what is happening when you engage in arguments in this way is you are playing by their rules, and their rules are, I win. And there is no logical consistency there. There’s no logical aspect that they are looking to play by. And any counterexample takes a lot more emotional energy and researching time out of you. And meanwhile, they’re four and five and 30 steps ahead. What works is getting to the emotions driving that thought process. And this is where I have seen in my practice, and especially my work with people on the autism spectrum, and especially higher functioning people who feel ostracized socially, that end up finding a home in some of these groups online that do speak to a sense of connectionism. And, and play on ideas of black and white thinking that is often with people diagnosed on the spectrum that creates a feeling of home, and it creates a in-group that they feel a part of that can be taken advantage of to further push their desire to feel connected and engage in some of the rhetoric and the behaviors that we’re seeing develop here politically and socially across country. Now, this is not just a autism centric thing. This is all sorts of clients. But my practice has seen a fair amount of this over my career.

Katie Vernoy 27:47

Curt Widhalm 27:50
In this last week, I have talked a client out of going to DC out of trying to go armed with guns. And it was not don’t do this. And it wasn’t done as a threat of hey, you’re kind of letting me know. And I’m kind of obligated as a, you know, person who needs to raise concerns of protection and terrorists off and all of this kind of stuff. Conversation went, Why do you feel the way that you do? Who are you really feeling these feelings are against? And it takes moving into this world and understanding that desire for connection, that desire to have an identity that really makes it to where they feel understood by somebody else. Now, none of those are my personal beliefs. It’s being able to separate what my space is, and not give more to react against but to create a No, we’re not so different. You and I. We’re both humans, we both have this desire to feel connected. And if we can feel connected about a unifying humanity goal, rather than a reaction against some imagined or contrived other, that really helps us to feel like Oh, we do have a little bit more control over our lives. And that’s what really separates outm we talked about this with Tereza in that episode of doing our job of helping people to feel connected to their feelings, rather than just getting all caught up in the hyperbole.

Katie Vernoy 29:39
Well and I think what I’m hearing and we, you know, we’ve had some of these these conversations kind of offline so to speak, and so you know, fill in if we haven’t talked about it on the episode but but the the simplification that can happen with a radicalized rhetoric, you know, Stop the Steal, Make America Great Again, you know, pro gun, anti-abortion, you know, whatever it is when there’s very simple messages, and there’s this, this kind of melding of this identity that happens. And this is broad strokes, obviously, I think we do need to do an episode on this. But when there’s this, this huge alignment of these tiny little ideals, and it’s more about calls to action than introspection. I think as therapists, one of the things we can really do is what you we’re talking about, is get to a place of What makes that action compelling to you, what is behind your resonance with this, and really trying to understand and hear them, I hear that identity elements, I hear the attachment needs, I hear the kind of loss of critical thinking, and oftentimes, whether it’s based on someone’s characteristics, or time of life, or vulnerability, or those types of things, I think that there are, there are times that things being very simple and black and white and having someone else some other to be angry with can be very compelling to all types of folks. And so I think it’s, it’s something where therapy actually is a good counter. Because we we seek connection, we seek to understand, we we hopefully are providing compassion, I think the difficulty and this is where looking at and I want to speak back to Travis, Dr. Heath’s episode around therapy as a political act, it’s, it’s not telling clients what to think, because in one of the books I’m reading on cults, psychology can be a place where you can get some mind control. So you also want to make sure that you’re using your power for good. But I think being able to truly try to understand the perspective of the clients that you have and have compassion, and teach compassion, I think is where, is within our wheelhouse. I think when we’re so angry, and we are seeking a simplified other to be angry at, we can be part of the problem.

Curt Widhalm 32:29
I want to push back against what you’re saying here a little bit, because I agree with your end goal. But I think that the process is difficult in that what you’re talking about is about therapy being an answer here is it’s a slow and deliberate process. And that goes very much against the simplified message that that people want. And especially people who don’t want to engage in a slow and deliberate process. There’s a reason that every movement has a quick short little sound bite sort of hashtags sort of thing. Stop the Steal is simple.

Katie Vernoy 33:06
Build the wall.

Curt Widhalm 33:08
Exactly. Be a modern therapist. No.

Katie Vernoy 33:12
We’re not cult.

Curt Widhalm 33:13
It’s something where simplicity drives a organization. And it’s being able to take a step back around that, any sort of social change. One of the biggest arguments against it from people who resist that change, it’s, oh, that’s just too difficult. It’s too hard to step back. And so this is where the messages that we need to do are not just as one on one in our office, but unifying as professions and professional organizations in response to this, and having our message be consistent with other professions. It’s not just cutting out a Facebook message of we stand with: that’s not doing anything, but it’s being able to create a simplified message around We’re pro humans.

Katie Vernoy 34:15
Yes, fair point. And I agree that as therapists, the process is slow. And the people who potentially need it most are not going to show up in our offices, at least not willingly.

Curt Widhalm 34:27
And that’s the pressure that we need to recognize that even our professional organizations, and I can say this as a former board member of a professional organization, we are not as adept at the public messaging as we could be, and we need to stop relying on ourselves as doing that and actually work with really good marketing people to help brand these messages very specifically. I know that professional organizations have done this with varying degrees of success and a lot of degrees of unsuccess in not having this. But when we have too many disparate messages changing too many times and not being repeated enough, we’re just wasting our time and money in doing that. And this is where having centralized sort of it, and I will come back to this as we’re pro humans. Go people! Yeah, like awesome people!

Katie Vernoy 35:23
Go people. I mean, I think that there’s messaging, I agree, I think that is a very important thing. And I think that maybe something that we can help with, but not necessarily our role, I think that there is also societal change, that supports and actually takes care of some of the concerns that people start with, the disenfranchised folks, you know, understanding and trying to re-in-franchise, I don’t know if that’s a word. Franchise? No, that’s different word.

Curt Widhalm 35:23

Katie Vernoy 35:27
Un-other. I think that there’s there’s a lot that can be done, I think the difficulty remains people who are unwilling to stay in communication. And I understand why, at some point that you stopped communication, I think there’s a healthy reason to do that. But I, you know, kind of, when we’re looking at the larger goal, when there’s not a space for communication, there’s, there’s a continued promotion of divisive statements, I think it becomes very hard to see a path forward except at the individual level, except at helping each person find the compassion they need to re-engage in society to, to help them take care of their needs, and, and kind of develop more emotionally so that they are not falling prey to this division.

Curt Widhalm 36:51
And it’s also making it personal for the people who would choose to opt out of this. And for much of the pandemic, I’ve been spending my time in rural Middle America, and being able to quarantine there. It doesn’t feel as part of the day to day life there. And so some of these broader concepts don’t appeal to everybody. And so it becomes kind of this argument against the, you know, elites on the coasts, that makes it to where that rhetoric becomes othering. And threatening to the people who aren’t faced with this kind of stuff day to day, and I know a lot of our audience tends to be towards the coasts, tends to be people who have opted into our messaging and our values around, you know, fighting some of these systemic things. But for a lot of the people, this isn’t part of their day to day life, and therefore it is not something that they want to invest a lot of time in. It’s helping them to see the benefits of this, not just the negatives that they’re hearing in sound bites on the news.

Katie Vernoy 38:06
Sure. Sure. I feel like this conversation has a lot of additional areas that we could dig into. And we are definitely long on time. I guess how I’d like to finish is just really speaking to therapists who are grappling with this really challenging time because not only are we facing white supremacy, terrorism and an attack on the capital and threats reported for the inauguration and beyond. But we’re also still in many of us quarantine and facing a global pandemic. And there’s so much that we’re facing as individuals. And so I think this is just another reminder. Yeah, this is tough. Take care of yourself. And we’re here.

Curt Widhalm 38:58
You can find our show notes at mtsgpodcast.com. You can come and join our Facebook group, The Modern Therapist group, and continue this conversation. We’ll have our episodes posted up there and hopefully you see the continued conversation developing there. And until next time, I am Curt Widhalm with Katie Vernoy.

Katie Vernoy 39:20
Thanks again to our sponsor betweensessions.com.

Curt Widhalm 39:23
Between Sessions Resources is the only company offering evidence based tools to accelerate client growth. Research tells us that just using therapy assignments can accelerate growth by as much as 30%. Between Sessions’ library provides therapists with tools to help with almost any problem they’ll come across. But if members ever can’t find what they’re looking for, they will create any tool you need, usually in a week or less. The tools at Between Sessions include more than 100 practice management forms are used by professionals and private practices, agencies, schools, rehabilitation centers, hospitals and more.

Katie Vernoy 39:58
Listeners to The Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide can get a special 10% discount to any Between Sessions membership by going to betweensessions.com/therapyreimagined.

Announcer 40:10
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