So How Unconscious is Your Bias?

Explorations Inside and Outside the Treatment Room

with Victoria Lee, PhD, Rosemary Segalla, PhD, and Ayana Watkins-Northern, PhD

Saturday, March 13, 2021
9:00 am-12:15 pm (US Eastern/New York Time)
Virtual Zoom Event

The recurring violent and painful events in our social-political-cultural world have ripped off any remaining sheath of denial from many White Americans’ hearts, minds and souls. Most clinicians have a renewed passion to grasp the traumatic effect of slavery on Whites and African-Americans in our society. From our readings, conference participation, podcasts and discussions, we are having painful “ah ha” awakenings of the physical, economic, and soul-crushing cruelty that underlies the behavior of Whites in this country. White Americans who hope for societal progress in racial dynamics  are unsure how to identify structural racism in action – unsure how they unconsciously play a role in continuing the oppression of racialized others. In a paper given one year ago at the IAPSP conference, Cherian Verghese (2019) remarked, “…we…see passive acceptance of racist attitudes by liberal Americans…[S]ince racism, sexism, and other isms are ego-alien to them, liberals are less likely to own their own biases, leading them to unconsciously act out biases for which they find justifications that cannot easily be unmasked…” This aversive racism can cause harm and pain, a pain that  may or may not be named and acknowledged.

What a challenge for self and relational clinicians who seek to provide a safe space in which clients and colleagues may explore themselves and change! How unacceptable and ego-alien to realize that many of us are likely unconsciously causing pain to others. As a professional organization devoted to learning, ICP+P seeks to provide growth opportunities in which participants learn to identify their unconscious biases.

Taking place on the morning of Saturday, March 13, this interactive conference “So How Unconscious is Your Bias?” will endeavor to create a space in which mental health professionals will gather and think, talk and explore together how bias, whether or not we notice it, impacts every aspect of our clinical and institutional encounters.

The process oriented conversation will be led by a team of self and relational group consultants, Dr. Victoria Lee, Dr. Rosemary Segalla, and Dr. Ayana Watkins-Northern. ICP+P co-founder Rosemary Segalla has fostered an evolution in large group work reflecting the cultural shifts in psychodynamic practice. This model differs from the traditional large group experience in its emphasis on each participant’s needs for mature selfobject experiences while using the large group to support “groupobject experiences” —  the need for affiliation, to be part of a community, to feel “a part of something larger than the self” (Segalla, 2015). Utilizing the large group as a learning community allows us to overcome “barriers to communication that often operate beyond our awareness….Our ability to bear witness and empathize with diverse experience and competing perspectives is broadened and deepened” (Dluhy, et al., 2019).

We are excited to provide this opportunity to our community and the greater community of mental health practitioners to better understand how diverse identities influence societal dynamics. Please join us in creating that space for exploration and growth.

Conference Co-Chairs Eleanor Howe and Ruth Migler

Dluhy, M., Watkins-Northern, A., Segalla, R., Paparella, L., Schulte, R., Avula, K., Lovett, H. & Nettles, R. (2019). The large group experience: Affiliation in a learning community. International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 00, 1-21.

Segalla, R. (2015). Relational experiences in large group: A therapeutic and training challenge. In Grossmark, R., & Wright, F.(eds.), The One and the Many (pp. 242-262). NY:  Routledge.

Verghese, C. (2018). Race, Melancholia, and the Fantasy of Whiteness. Voices: The Art and Science of Psychotherapy,  54,19-30.

Wilkerson, I. (2020). Caste: The origins of our discontents. NY: Random House.