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DEAR WHITE THERAPISTS,
 
I AM SO GLAD YOU'RE HERE.


I’m excited that you want to be allies in the revolution against systemic racism. In an equitable and just society, we will all benefit. 

I know that's what you want –because you told me. You told me that you feel called out, and that you want to do better, but you’re not sure how. You’ve said that you’re afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing, of making mistakes, of even asking questions about what you should do. You’ve shared with me your doubts about whether there’s anything you can do to change our society and the way it’s structured. You confessed that sometimes you feel ashamed, confused, and even paralyzed. 

I get it. I feel that way many days, actually.

We are all members of this community, and we are all impacted by it. That includes you. And you’ve started to realize that this system is keeping you from doing your best clinical work, not just with BIPOC, but with all your clients. We can change that. I want to call you  in. This is a great place to start. 

I want us to collaborate. I want you to feel ignited. That's why I’m inviting you to this “brave space” to start –or continue, because we’re never done– to examine our roles in all of this, what they’ve been, and what we want them to be from now on. I want to create a place where we can gain a clearer understanding of what in the world is going on here, and what we’re going to do about it. Together. You know, like a community.

As another determined disruptor said, "Let's roll."

 
The Honest Therapist Dr. Michelle Alvarez
 
Even if you can’t do this training, please share the word with other therapists who you know want to be able to competently support their clients and colleagues of color.
The Honest Therapist Dr. Michelle Alvarez
"I’m laughing because we’re about to eradicate racism."

Dr. Michelle Álvarez, Clinical Psychologist,
a.k.a. The Honest Therapist
Dr. Michelle Álvarez, Clinical Psychologist,
a.k.a. The Honest Therapist

"I’m laughing because we’re about to eradicate racism."
What is Dear White Therapists© ?
Dear White Therapists is a racial/cultural competence training for mental health providers. A learning space to listen and to form questions about becoming an anti-racist therapist. 

What is Dear White Therapists©  NOT?
This is not a place to shame or “yell” at  white people. I have no interest in bashing white folks; I’m interested in organizing a team. But I am going to say some… things. I'm sweet but not sugarcoated.

Who is Dear White Therapists© for? 
This training is for all psychotherapists and counselors interested in being competent to treat POC, in being an ally to colleagues and others, and in eradicating racism, all from their own therapy couch. But although the course was created with therapists in mind, it is appropriate and of benefit to anyone, regardless of profession or race.  

Why now?
I’d been working on this training for months, but given the dual pandemics of Covid-19 and systemic racist brutality, therapists communicated an immediate need and desire, so I worked around the clock and made it in a couple of weeks.

How is this going to work?
The course consists of four (4) hours of self-paced Video Learning. The material is academic and research-based, but delivered in an intimate, conversational style. You'll also gain access to a library of anti-racism resources.

How much is this going to cost me?
For every hour of this training, I request that you contribute the cost of a session, based on the national average of $175, for a total of $700.

*But! I'm currently offering you a $220 discount. The average session cost does seem to have gone down since the pandemic started, as far as I can tell, and may now be closer to $150.  But I'm only asking you to contribute $120/hr at this time. And you and a friend get access to bonus materials if you both sign up! 

That's a chunk of change!
I know. You're donating sessions for those who've been made marginalized, in addition to getting the knowledge. If you can't pay it all at once, I want to offer you the option of a payment plan. I'm happy for you to pay in installments; I just want you to be able to take the course. 

Do you provide CEUs?
Yes! And at no extra cost, thanks to the generosity of  Lenoir-Rhyne University Counseling Program. 
Item Price
$700
12 payments of $40
7 payments of $100
12 payments of $50
6 payments of $100
$600
$480
6 payments of $80
12 payments of $58.50

FAQ

Dear White Therapists

 

White therapy clients only
Q: Why do we even need this training? I was told black and brown people wanted to be treated equally.
(Yes, this is a real question. Some people are still actually pretending they don’t see color. In the year 2020.) 
A: Black and Brown people are in urgent need of support, now more than ever, and at dire risk of being harmed and re-traumatized by untrained mental health providers who lack sufficient competence to work with BIPOC, however well-intentioned. 
POC deserve better. Black Minds Matter.

Q: I already know this. That's why I'm here. I want to be an anti-racist therapist; I just don't know how. How will this training help? 
A: Nobody needs therapy more than POC. Not only is competent support not being provided, folks are being harmed. Some therapists just refer out. Others don’t even know that they should. If you’re here, you already know you need competence training and are seeking to develop or grow those skills. This course gives you specifics.

Q: But I already did a diversity training in grad school/to get licensed/to get CEUs. Do I still need to take yours? 
A: Well, it takes more than a few hours to dismantle racism. 
Also, this isn't a diversity training.  

Q: What do you mean? What's the difference?
A: Diversity is just visual. This work is about creating real change, it's about equity, inclusion and belonging. This is about anti-racism.
Competent therapists are anti-racist therapists. You can't be one and not the other. Therapists who believe it’s okay to be “not racist” (something that does not even exist) are incompetent to work with anyone, including white clients. Because racism and systemic inequity hurt everyone.
Q: Why should I do this training instead of a free one?
A: I'm feeling pretty confident about what I'm offering here. Because my content is unique, densely packed, informed by more than 16 years of being a therapist, and even longer of observing different cultures of the world. Because I spent dozens and dozens of hours creating this course just for you. And because it's high time to stop devaluing the work of POC.
But you should definitely take that free training, too.
It takes more than one course to tear down all of our internalized White Supremacy.

Q: How do you know what a person truly cares about? 
A: You look at their calendar and their bank account. This course will take up 4 hours of your life and a few hundred dollars. 

(As I write this, my smart phone sits next to me, the one that costs hundreds of dollars, and that I just used to text memes to my friends, about a training I just did, which itself cost a couple hundred dollars. I’m reflecting on how my money doesn’t always go to the things I value most, but I’m also striving to rectify that.)

A Testimonial


This is an excerpt from an email from a participant who completed the course:

Dear Dr. Álvarez,

I am grappling with finding the right words to convey the deep amount of gratitude I am feeling for the effort, time, and energy you poured into your Dear White Therapists course. I will be honest... I am in an uncomfortable state of internal dissonance. I am sitting with it, mindfully observing my resistances and simultaneously experiencing a new level of spaciousness and hope. I have a lot of parts coming up and I am grateful to have the opportunity to grow in this particular way.

I know that nice words are just that... nice words. So, I wanted to share with you that I immediately reached out to another white therapist and asked her to be my accountability partner on further actionable steps. I am sharing this just to convey that your course helped push me to the next level of doing my own anti-racism work. I especially appreciated your (non)closure segment. I found it really helpful to sit with the uncomfortable feelings that make it easy to turn away, rationalize, and continue to participate in the culture of white supremacy.

Please use my words!! I mean every single bit of it. I typed this email slowly and with great intention, and feel free to use my name if it is helpful. It is yet another way to publicly commit and hold myself accountable. You asked us white therapists to be both bold and vulnerable in stating publicly we are doing anti-racism work. So, let me say it- LOUDLY- this is hard, uncomfortable work and I am doing it anyway.

Your course has changed me- it has changed my work with my clients and my family.

Thank you. You are a beacon of light.

Warmly,
Christen Rinaldi, LCMHCA, RMT

I’m Michelle Álvarez.

I come from a Dominican family, but was born and raised in Puerto Rico. I have a mix of African, European and Indigenous blood. Because of my racial and ethnic makeup, whenever I’m away from home, I’m considered a minority, despite being part of the global majority. 

I’ve had to learn how to move through the world as a 'minority' in many different cities and countries: Chicago, Denmark, New York City, West Africa, China, Indianapolis, and now Asheville, NC. I lived in many of these places as a psychology student, an art student, and later a psychologist. 

In addition to living it, I also formally study racism and inequity, and the trauma that it causes. I apply what I've learned from books and from my personal experiences to my work as a psychologist.

As a therapist, I've spent more than 16 years in a number of different settings: a maximum security prison, the VA, large private hospitals, small clinics, community health centers, an advocacy center for abused children, nursing homes for the elderly, trainings for immigration advocates, backstage at theatre productions conducting therapy sessions with actors in-character, and in my private practice, Santosha. Very different cultures, indeed!

I choose to put the awareness, sensitivity and perspective that I've gained to work –with people and families of all ages who are grappling with the reality of what it means to be a person of color in this country, visibly different, visibly "other." I am dedicated to fostering social justice, and creating awareness and change around inequity and oppression based on race, SES, gender, sexuality, etc… 

In my fight for equity, what drives me is my multiracial children, my Black-White-and-Hispanic daughter and my White-presenting son. 



Dear White Therapists, The Honest Therapist Dr. Michelle Alvarez

Here I am in NYC about to eat a very healthy Dominican breakfast 

of mashed plantains, fried eggs, fried salami, fried cheese, and café con leche. 

Investment:

"It's a privilege to educate yourself about racism instead of experiencing it."

  • For every hour of this training, I request that you contribute the national equivalent of a client contact hour, $175, for a total of $700. ​*However, I'm currently offering a $220 discount. And you and a friend get access to bonus materials if you both sign up! Please pay in installments if you need to. I just want you to be able to afford the course.   
  • CEUs are included in the cost, thanks to the sponsorship of Lenoir-Rhyne University Counseling Program, NBCC-Approved Continuing Education Provider #4444.   
  • ​People spend money and time on what they value and prioritize. If you are balking at the cost of this course, I invite you to explore why that is.
I will share that, for me, this training is not a side business with which to make additional income. 

I actually do not
want to have to teach mental health professionals how to treat POC. I feel sad that there should still be a need for that. 

For therapists who serve populations with low resources, making a living solely via clinical work is much harder. (This course will teach you more about the income disparity for therapists of color as compared to our white counterparts.) Funds from this training help provide therapy sessions for clients of color.

Finally, social equity activism requires a great deal of time and energy and pays... nothing. 

The more successful this effort is, the more I will be able to do for justice work and direct client support, as well as allow me the flexibility to create more trainings for you. 
 

What topics does this course cover?


Module 1: Bienvenidos, Dear White Therapists
Why do we even need this training?
And why should I listen to this woman –whose name is not Maria?

Module 2: Anti-racism 101
What’s anti-racism? Wait, what’s racism? (It’s not what I thought it was.)
Racial identity. (Yes, yours too!)

Module 3: Racism surrounds what we do
Being a POC hurts.
Mental health as a civil rights issue.
Covid-19: Same storm, very different boat.
There’s nothing wrong with your client.

Module 4: Racism is in what we do
Race is a chronic condition.
Colleagues of color are people of color too.
We’re not done here yet. Some really hard questions --and a little truth or dare.

Module 5: (Non) closure
Next steps.
And some more really hard questions.

How does the training work?

  • ​This course is an informal, direct, and raw discussion. The material in this training is academic, research-oriented, and theory-based, but it’s also a first-hand account from a woman of color of what it's like to exist in the world. Folks tell me, therapists and others, that it’s helpful to hear my real-life examples and experiences. They tell me that the conversations we’ve had have made a real impact in the way they understand systemic inequity and have had a true influence on their behavior, both at work and outside of it. I am asked all the time to meet for coffee and talk about social and racial justice. What I’m hoping to do here is be able to have an intimate conversation with more of my colleagues, in a shorter period of time.
  • The training is roughly four (4) hours of video content that you can digest at your own pace. It is a space to learn and work through discomfort and stress, without fear of being judged. It is a place to accept that mistakes will be made. Mistakes are an important part of the process.
  • I chose to focus on content and value, and on getting this out to you as soon as possible, rather than go through the time and expense of making this a glossy and high-tech course. 
  • ​Another advantage of this no-frills approach is that since there are no distracting graphics, you can choose to listen while in the car or otherwise multitasking. It’s easy; all you have to do is listen.
  • ​I will, however, provide you with resources, exercises, and next steps that you likely hadn't thought about.

 

Who should be taking this course?


The training was created for mental health professionals of all degrees, in private practice or agency work, whether that be health centers, hospitals, residential treatment, schools, nursing homes, prisons, etc... Although it was designed with therapists in mind, it is appropriate and of benefit to anyone, regardless of profession or race.  

Hit me up:

Shoot me an e-mail with your questions and comments. I am also available to consult via phone or video chat.


As a believer and fighter for racial, social and economic equity who strives to be available to everyone, I will accept whatever your hourly rate is as my consultation rate.

 
On growing anti-racist
This chart adapted by Andrew M. Ibrahim MD, MS, from “Who Do I Want to Be During COVID-19” (original author unknown), with some ideas pulled from Ibram X. Kendi’s work.

Dear White Therapists, The Honest Therapist Dr. Michelle Alvarez
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