DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION UPDATE
May 19, 2021
Dear AGPA Community,
We are writing to provide an update regarding AGPA’s anti-racism and diversity, equity and inclusion work. We recognize and appreciate the deep impacts of racism, oppression and discrimination experienced by our members, our communities and our clients. Our awareness of the need to prevent, repair and redress harm, and the need to dismantle structural racism is suffusing every element of AGPA. In this work it is essential to identify both the unique and shared forms of injury that BIPOC, minoritized and marginalized individuals experience. The history and the embeddedness of racism and discrimination is different for different populations and we need to hold that clearly in mind.
AGPA requires a mixture of humility and courage as we grow and evolve into an antiracist organization that is genuinely inclusive of all of its members. Understanding where we are today reminds us of the large tasks ahead.
We are very grateful to all of the members of AGPA who have leaned into this important work. Central to this is the DEI Task Force members and its Co-Chairs; the RED SIG and its Co-Chairs and the facilitators of our Focus and Consultation Groups. In addition to expressing appreciation to all of those who have worked to advance these processes, it is important to acknowledge the emotional load being carried by some of our members in advancing this essential work.
We have now nearly completed this round of Focus Group meetings. These have included anti-racism training for AGPA leadership and governance; white allyship and anti-racism and the following topics: clinical implications for BIPOC members; listening groups for BIPOC members‘ concerns; international perspectives on racism; and restorative justice. Along with these three-session Focus Groups we have held Consultation Groups looking at our educational and training events; our publications; and our governance and leadership processes. The feedback from these meetings to date is compelling and instructive. We await a full set of feedback from these groups which we will synthesize into the next iteration of our DEI strategic plan.
Our Tri-Organizational Boards are working to remove the barriers and obstacles to inclusion and participation that BIPOC members have experienced.
The Foundation Board has established a DEI Fund that will be used to support individuals and organizational activities that advance these important mandates. A new committee of Emerging Leaders is also being established to broaden counsel and guidance to the Foundation.
We have made changes to the process of becoming a Certified Group Psychotherapist (CGP) to ensure greater accessibility of consultation hours and have included training in DEI for both certification and re-certification. Special Interest Groups (SIGs) and individual members are also working to provide consultation opportunities to help members through more affordable training.
We will review and update AGPA’s policies and procedures and our ethics statement to reflect our commitment to anti-racism.
The Fellowship Committee is in the midst of a survey and review, aimed at ensuring a more equitable and accessible path to this honor.
We are developing a demographic survey that will allow us to understand better the make up of our current membership and track our progress in becoming a more diverse organization.
We recognize as well that one of our unique strengths in AGPA is also a significant vulnerability - that is the experiential nature of learning and training both at our annual conference and at other CE events. The feedback on this is clear: we have much work to do to protect against the experience of harm and pain rooted in microaggressions, racial trauma, exclusion and oppression.
To that end we are committed to a robust process of training and support for faculty that moves beyond passive learning into more active learning. It may be that we cannot fully eliminate hurt in experiential learning, but we can certainly aim to reduce its occurrence and when it does happen, to transform it into deeper learning and opportunities for repair. To be most effective this training and support should build atop each individual’s own study, reflection and learning or participation in ongoing anti-racism process and training groups.
We see clearly that models of theory, care and practice must evolve to include attunement to the impact of racial trauma, oppression and the dominance of white culture in society. It is unsettling for some to confront this and therefore helpful to keep in mind that each of us has evolved in our work over time to maximize our capacity to attune, empathize and validate the experiences of our clients and trainees. Anti-racism work is the next important step in that evolution.
We are pleased that we have hired Dr. Kumea Shorter- Gooden as a consultant to our organization to help in this important work. She is a highly regarded DEI expert and anti-racism consultant who has consulted to the American Psychological Association and other national organizations. She is starting with us this month. We’re also very pleased that we have a commitment from Dr. Ken Hardy, an outstanding anti-racism educator to present a Special Institute on anti-racism at AGPA Connect 2022.
The listserv continues to be problematic with regard to it being a platform in which people become injured, attacked or shamed. We must do better on this front and the AGPA Board is examining a range of different options. It is a poor forum for nuanced and complex discussions. It is a recipe for continued injury when racialized and minoritized members post about concerns to do with racism and oppression reflecting deeply felt emotions, and are met by intellectualized explanations without recognition or validation. The federal restrictions on not-for-profit associations like AGPA posting commercial events, on their listservs is problematic. The restrictions feel oppressive and offensive particularly when the offerings posted by our members intend to provide access to social justice and anti-racism trainings. Alternatives include use of AGPA’s Facebook page, Facebook group or LinkedIn Page which each have large followings or adding links to the AGPA anti-racism.
We ask you to lean in and tolerate the unavoidable discomfort of this work. The Nominating Committee is preparing to put forward a slate for the fall elections for the 2022 Officers and new Board members. We want our leadership and decision makers to reflect our membership and our communities with regard to inclusion and diversity. We want to remove barriers to leadership through better mentorship and support. Please volunteer for nomination to these leadership positions. It is the best way to contribute to and influence the change that lies ahead for us.
Like many organizations and associations that produce knowledge around mental health and treatment we have contributed to a system that has harmed and marginalized BIPOC members. We, better than most, can understand the impact on mental health of racism, oppression and exclusion. Our values align with the remediating of this historical harm and dismantling its contemporary manifestations.
These are difficult and challenging times for society, our communities, our organization and our members. We want you to hold us to account and to provide AGPA leadership with feedback. We welcome smaller and private conversations. We look forward to our work together and further communication about this critical work.