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THERAPY FOR race-based trauma IN NEW YORK CITY

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What is race-based trauma?

When people hear the word “trauma,” they often think of one single, dramatic, life-changing event or moment in time.

Race-based trauma occurs much more insidiously, on a systemic level, and is experienced through both micro and macroaggressions.  Race-based trauma refers to people of color’s reactions to dangerous events and experiences of racial discrimination. These events can have such a pervasive impact on an individual because of the subtle and nefarious nature of insidious trauma. The impact of race-based trauma can alter an individual’s perception of the world, their sense of self, and the nature of their relationships.


What does race-based trauma look like?

Microaggressions vs Macroaggressions

A microaggression is a subtle stab, often with language, that stems from a long history of oppression. It sends a hostile or negative message, and although these messages may appear harmless to outsiders (in fact, perpetrators may themselves be unaware of the biases reflected in such statements), they’re considered covert forms of discrimination. 

Microaggressions are sometimes so insidious that it’s possible that an individual experiencing them may not fully realize how internalizing them is negatively affecting their wellbeing. 

examples of microaggressions
  • “You’re so articulate!”

  • “All lives matter”

  • “White privilege doesn’t exist”

  • “Where are you from?”

  • “Anyone can achieve what I did if they just work hard enough”

  • “I’m not racist, I have black friends”

  • “I don’t see color/I’m colorblind”

  • “There’s only one race, the human race”

  • “Why are you so loud/emotional?”

  • “Can I touch your hair?”

  • A person of color is followed around in a store by a shop owner or security guard

  • A white person moves to the opposite side of the street or clutches their handbag when passing a person of color

  • Getting dismissed when an individual of color brings up race/culture in work/school/peer group

  • Mistaking persons of color for service workers

  • Being ignored as a person of color at a store when attention/priority is given to white customers

  • Actors and actresses in Hollywood films, popular tv shows, children’s toys, and cosmetics displaying predominantly white people with little representation of people of color


NYC Therapists Who Specialize in Therapy for Race-Based Trauma

Connecting with the right therapist is the most important factor in your search. We’re here to help you find a great match.

What Are Macroaggressions?

Unlike microaggressions, which are more subtle or ambiguous, macroaggressions refer to overt forms of racial discrimination such as verbal abuse, racials slurs, or hate crimes. In today’s world, macroaggressions are typically considered less socially acceptable, and for this reason may occur less frequently than microaggressions. Race-based trauma can exhibit itself in many different forms, below are some common experiences of people who experience race-based trauma.


Psychological symptoms associated with race-based trauma


Hypervigilance: Feeling on edge, distrustful, or the need to protect yourself when interacting with the world around you because there’s always a potential threat, whether it’s more subtle discrimination or outright violence.

Depression and Helplessness: Loss of hope in our elected officials, leaders, or community to effectively help and protect us. Trying to understand what this means for our own children or future generations and fearing that we may not be able to protect them.

Anger: Feelings of anger, rage, or sadness at the unchallenged system, community, and elected leaders who allow people of color to continue to be mistreated and killed. Also, anger that it’s taken so long for these issues to be brought to the forefront of conversations in the daily lives of others, when it’s been affecting people of color for generations.

Monitoring Your Authentic Self: We may begin to take great measures to change our behavior and stifle our emotions, or even valid reactions, in order to avoid being perceived as a negative stereotype.

Questioning Your Reality: Self-doubt and questioning one’s lived experience. It’s not uncommon to wonder, “Are the microaggressions or injustices I experience really that bad if they’re allowed to continue without anyone batting an eyelash? Am I just overreacting?”

How Therapy Can Help

Connect with a therapist who specializes in race-based trauma

With the help of our therapists, you can begin to heal in a safe and therapeutic environment. We can also help you learn how to develop the tools and skills to combat the negative effects of race-based trauma.

If you’re not ready to commit to therapy, there are steps that you can take to feel empowered and begin the healing journey yourself. Check out the blog “6 Ways to Cope with Race-Based Trauma” for practical tips that you can put into practice now.

For more information on how we strive to support our clients who identify as Black, Indigenous, and Persons of Color, as well as additional resources please visit here.  

As a group, we’re committed to anti-racism and honoring diversity in all its forms. To learn how we practice this, read our Pledge to Affirming Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging.

interested in therapy for race-based trauma?

Get in touch today.

You deserve to feel heard, affirmed and understood. To learn more about how we can help, schedule a complimentary consultation with a therapist who specializes in race-based trauma today.


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Alyssa Digges, MA
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Ariel Zeigler, Ph.D
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Begoña Núñez Sánchez, LP
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Carole Taylor-Tumilty, LCSW
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Jessa Navidé, Psy.D.
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Justin L.F. Yong, LMHC
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Logan Jones, Psy.D
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Lucas Saiter, LMHC
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Monica Amorosi, LMHC
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Peter Gradilone, LMSW
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