Hi my name is Liz. I’m the chair of the Community Mental Health program at CIIS and I want to tell you a story about psychotherapy and social justice. It starts like this, once upon a time there was a big, wide river with two villages next to it. Upstream and downstream. And in downstream as long as the villagers could remember they would periodically find people from upstream struggling in the river, drowning in the current. And of course the good people of downstream would try to rescue them. They used to use life rings, ropes, poles. Now they have boats, radar, early warning systems. They have a whole Coast Guard, and once they rescue someone they dry them off, warm them up, calm them down and then send them on their way back home walking back to upstream. Sounds pretty good so far right? What’s missing from this story? What have the good helpful people of downstream fail to do? Well did they ever ask exactly how people were ending up in the river in the first place? Did they ever go upstream and check things out? Were people falling in? Jumping in?
Were they being pushed in? If so, by whom and why? And why were some of the same people ending up in the river over and over again? Important questions right? So what does all this have to do with community mental health, psychotherapy, and social justice? Psychotherapy helps people who are struggling or even drowning and it’s a powerful skill, but psychotherapy alone is incomplete if we don’t broaden our lens and ask some bigger questions like what is this river are suffering or mental challenges that we find ourselves in? And what are the conditions of our communities, our society, our world such that some people end up in the river? And as we ask and start to answer these questions we end up in the terrain of social justice. Of liberation psychology. Of activism, advocacy, and social transformation. So if this terrain is home for you, if you desire to be both a skilled psychotherapist, and a powerful informed and thoughtful change maker. That’s who we are and what we do in the Masters of Community Mental Health Program at CIIS. Check us out and let’s be in touch. Let’s be the change that our communities need. you