BEAUTY IN THE FRIDGE

What Are Therapy Reparations?

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Therapy reparations are about providing therapy for Black, Brown, and Indigenous folks given that racial trauma is inherent in the Black, Brown, and Indigenous experience in this country. I want to provide a safer space for people where cost doesn’t have to be a factor. Some people have had harmful and racist and oppressive things happen to them at work and at school, and they bring that to therapy. It’s heavy; it’s traumatic; they have to be so vulnerable. To then, as a clinician, be like, “You have to talk about these things that you have no control over, that are systemic, that are still an ache in our country, and then also let me charge you for that”—it just doesn’t sit right.

A therapist named Tamara Turner and her colleague came up with the idea of therapy reparations, and I borrowed the idea and wanted to adapt it for my clients. It happened in June of last year, and it started from being in a place that felt really, really heavy. We were living through a pandemic in the midst of a racial uprising. Being a Black and queer therapist, it felt like I was doing so much but not doing enough. I said to myself, “What else can I do?” I felt like it was unfair to talk to Black, Brown, and Indigenous folks about racist trauma and oppression and require them to pay for it. It also did not feel fair to not get paid for it as a Black queer woman. So when that idea fell into my lap, I knew it was a way to make my work even more impactful and meaningful by removing a huge barrier—cost—to therapy for Black, Brown, and Indigenous folks. I created a fund for people to donate to for therapy reparations. The money I receive allows me to provide free or discounted sessions to my Black, Brown, and Indigenous clients.

Therapy reparations are not a handout or Black, Brown, and Indigenous people asking for donations. They’re about the fact that throughout this country’s history, there has been inequity. Therapy reparations soften some of the shit that happens on a daily basis to people in this country. Therapy reparations take maybe one weight off someone’s back. It’s not, “Oh, I’m going to do this because I feel sorry for you. Let me do it because I acknowledge I have privilege, and I feel bad about that.” Not at all. We all have privileges, and the point of therapy reparations is to acknowledge the oppression that Black, Brown, and Indigenous folks have endured and continue to endure, and to provide one small step toward healing and atonement.

Therapy reparations are a great way to get people who have never been in therapy into therapy and people who can’t afford even to think about therapy into therapy. In addition to that, they’re also about ensuring therapists of color are fully compensated. Those two things go hand in hand.

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