LOUISVILLE, Ky. - You’ve heard about sexual and physical trauma because people are talking about it, but one that often gets overlooked is racial trauma. It can take a toll.
“We experience dysfunction and we experience enormous amounts of stress and discomfort so what that can do is that can interfere with our functioning across multiple areas," Truman Harris, a doctoral candidate at Spalding University's Collective Care Center, said.
Sometimes the pain that certain slurs and behaviors can cause is obvious. Other times, subtle micro-aggressions can feel like death by a thousand cuts.
“It's a very broad term that can cover a number of stereotypes that kind of society holds about minority individuals who are a marginalized populations that are covertly expressed in the work environment academics and even just social interactions and it builds up and has a negative health and mental health affect," Harris said.
So how does one navigate their feelings about race without falling victim to depression anxiety, sleep disturbance? Dr. Steven Kniffley is the author of several books about the black experience in America. He was drawn to Spalding University’s Collective Care Center because of their commitment to answer questions like that head-on.
“I wanted to be a part of an effort that was innovative in nature but was also going to give me an opportunity to help heal black folks for something that is very unique to us which racial trauma," Dr. Kniffley said.
A five year grant in partnership with Louisville’s Office for Safe and Healthy neighborhoods now allows Dr. Kniffley and other mental health professionals help in bringing people of color in from West and South Louisville. The grant allows them to help treat the scars of racial trauma free of charge.
"One of the reasons why persons of color typically don't seek out therapy is because of stigma but also because of a lack of access and access refers to things costing too much or not having access to therapists that look like them," Dr. Kniffley said.
Since starting in August the Collective Care Center which operates within the center for behavioral health at Spalding has seen several dozen people.
The treatment usually last twelve weeks but there is no time limit for patients who are working through the three part process.
"So the first one is to enhance one's identity one's black identity then the second step is to process the trauma that kind of comes with that and the third step is give them skills to process micro-agressions to essentially move through micro-agressions in order to move towards their values to who they want to be as a person," Harris said.
Dr. Kniffley says in the end each person he treats will undoubtedly have to deal with racism again but they also will now hopefully have the tools to not let it overpower them.
"So yes it might feel overwhelming and it might feel like you have been disempowered but you can come to this space this oasis if you will in the collective care center where you can feel affirmed you can feel validated while also processing and developing those skills needed so you can go back out there and reclaim the power that's been taking from you," Dr. Kniffley said.
To find out more just call 502-792-7011.