Now They’re “Decolonizing” Therapy

Natoya Haskins

by James A. Bacon

The University of Virginia’s School of Education and Human Development maintains a program, Youth-Nex, that is dedicated to “supporting developmental science that is not only anti-racist but is in the service of dismantling white supremacy.”

Youth-Nex is currently highlighting the work of Natoya Hill Haskins, a UVA associate professor of counseling and lead author of an article published in Counselor Special Education and Supervision, “Teaching anti-racist counseling theories: Black liberation narrative therapy.” From the article abstract:

Counseling theories created by White theorists have traditionally failed to consider the religious or spiritual experiences of Black clients. Integration of Black liberation theology [BLT] and narrative therapy provides a novel approach to support counseling trainees in meeting the needs of Black clients. Decolonizing therapeutic strategies are presented along with counselor educator recommendations.

Write the authors:

BLT, an anti-racist theory used to understand the Black experience and its hegemonic foundations … has served as a guide to understand Black cultural narratives, oppression, and liberation mechanisms. Unfortunately, these indigenous understandings regarding the Black community have been relegated to seminaries or biblical perspectives. Yet BLT’s theoretical assumptions and strategies have implications for mental health practice.

If you can push beyond the woke rhetoric and oppressor/oppressed paradigm and actually read the article, an interesting tension emerges. In face of the aggressive secularism of the nation’s predominantly White professoriat, the authors are arguing that the spirituality of Black churches can have positive effects for mental health.

One characteristic of this institution’s adaptive role in the lives of Black Americans pertains to its influence on congregants’ capacity to utilize spiritual and faith-healing practices associated with psychological and behavioral health. Such practices typically include prayer, scripture reading, musical inspiration, and reliance on the power of God.

The authors go on to discuss how “the Black Church is in essence a protest of the white patriarchy and oppression in society” and argue the need for “dismantling oppressive religious structures.”

I love it when Black progressives decide that the therapeutic strategies of White progressives need decolonizing. I hope the patriarchal and hegemonic Whites who dominate such theorizing feel appropriately chastened.

The disciplines of psychology and therapy are indeed vulnerable to the enthusiasms of White cultural elites and they often prove useless if not counterproductive for the human guinea pigs (both Black and White) subjected to them. Haskins may have a point that such intellectual fashions are best avoided and that traditional Black religiosity may lead to better mental health outcomes. Whether embracing oppressor/victim rhetoric will help Black people overcome their emotional and mental challenges and thrive in contemporary society, however, remains to be seen.

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walter smith
walter smith
26 days ago

Reading the crazy jargon, I was fully prepared to call this out as an example of craziness, and, based on the jargon, it is.
However, if the elements about prayer, scripture reading and reliance on the power of God are truly meant, this might be therapy that …works!
The irony of the white professoriat being the oppressors is so rich. But the CRT/DEI/secular humanism IS a religion of division and hate.

I guess if Natoya Haskins just said “Jesus is the answer” (with which I agree) she would be laughed out of the academy. But it is an idea so crazy it might just work (like it had for centuries before we forgot on purpose).

UVA Past
UVA Past
26 days ago
Reply to  walter smith

Thanks for your thoughtful comment

Wahoo74
Wahoo74
25 days ago
Reply to  walter smith

Walter, never thought I’d say this, but I believe you’re being overly optimistic. I view this as BLT expecting black churches to validate their theory of white supremacy and colonialist oppression, two pillars of DEI and Affirmative Action.

Clarity77
Clarity77
25 days ago
Reply to  walter smith

So well said.

I have on occasion met black couples in the PRC(people’s republic of c’ville) such as one recently when I visited a local church who happen to be affiliated with UVA, and yet resist the woke religion. A beautiful conversation in which they related how often their UVA white or black colleagues are visibly dismayed when they do not join in the anger based woke UVA dogma.

One wonders how different the experience for UVA students would be if, for instance as to free speech and a civil discussion, they were introduced to the wisdom in the Bible as in James 1:19-20 which urges being quick to listen, but slow to anger.

Instead they are urged to hate Christian nationalists as I personally was subjected to in a UVA OLLI course when I asked the professor simply if he could furnish proof as to his contention that it was myth as to Washington kneeling in prayer before the pivotal Valley Forge event. The flustered professor replied he did not have to furnish proof and that I could “google” my question for myself! Angry murmuring arose in the audience as they realized in one simple question I had made a fool out of the professor. And of course, after class 3 students came up to confront and yell at me. After a short debate with them which included all the angry woke tactics, as I was leaving a kind old gentleman sitting nearby, whispered, “hang in there.” We enjoyed a good laugh.

Back to the article, if not already I am certain the UVA “white professoriat” will soon act to bring Professor Haskins “in line” as to in any way to suggest the black community can benefit from a Black church that could “utilize spiritual and faith-healing practices associated with psychological and behavioral health. Such practices typically include prayer, scripture reading, musical inspiration, and reliance on the power of God.”

Pure and absolutely unacceptable woke doctrine heresy! A very sad chapter in UVA history as is presently being carried out and implemented starting with Ryan. It is time for the Virginia governor and BOV to step up!

Anne Carson Foard
Anne Carson Foard
26 days ago

Once again, it’s all the fault of those white colonizers, without whom none of us would be here. I’d be eating gruel in a shed in Scotland. But because we are all here, it’s nice to point out that Black Churches, and White Churches, and maybe, someday, Churches of All Colors, offer emotional support for many people. I’ve never heard anybody complain about gospel music, either.

Wahoo74
Wahoo74
25 days ago

We’ve reached a new low in Progressive fictitious social theory.

This BLT school of thought (sic) now enlists faith in God to justify achievement disparities, believing the Almighty will corroborate the myth of ongoing systemic racism and white supremacy. Great to know UVA tuition dollars and endowment income are being allocated to perpetuate this myth.

This is neither great nor good.