Critical Cultural Competence

Critical Cultural Competence

Invisible Wounds of Oppression

Historical trauma

Cumulative emotional and psychological wounding across generations that historically traumatic events have had, and are still having, on a community.

Prejudice, discrimination, lack of equal treatment trigger body’s stress response

They are an assault on our sense of safety and right to exist in the world



A sustained and intense experience

Persists over time

Silence is the hallmark of oppression

There are 2 levels: primary and secondary

Primary Level – Oppression

Requires physical presence of an oppressor

Some discernible power difference

Differential access to resources

Some presence of physical threat

Has power to transform being to things – process of objectification. Stripped of sense of humanity

Oppressed are stripped of ability to frame their own experiences

Silence is hallmark

Secondary Level — Oppression

No presence of physical threat

Oppressor doesn’t have to be present

Oppressed becomes vehicle of their own subjugation

Have internalized oppression

Mistreat self

Devaluation Dilemmas

Silence and speaking



Invisible wounds of oppression



Learned helplessness



Generalized suspiciousness

Orientation toward survival

With secondary oppression, we’re so outraged that we often collude.

This means we judge or criticize or punish the behavior rather than empathizing

Our job: understand how the behavior is adaptive, even when the behavior is not o.k.

We confuse validation with agreement. Can I stretch my understanding to validation?

Can’t reach someone unless we validate.

Therapy with invisible wounds

of oppression

Acknowledge that invisible wounds exist

Use a wider angle lens that includes dynamics of privilege and oppresion (not just life cycle and family-of-origin)

Resist either/or thinking. Honor complexity

VCR Model:

Validate (needs and feelings)

Challenge (behaviors)

Request (change in some way)

Therapy with invisible wounds

of oppression

Add on rather than take away (punish)

Give voice lessons: any utterance is important

It’s ok to be imperfect as you find your voice

Rage — Needs to be channeled into socially sanctioned venues, not eradicated

Name and legitimize

Identify sources

Create opportunities for expression

Identify venues where it can be channeled


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