Deeper Than Skin Deep: White Helping Professionals Doing Our Race Work

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Deeper Than Skin Deep: For White Helping Professionals: Facing Our Whiteness, Unlearning Racism, and Decolonizing Mental Health

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FREE - Deeper Than Skin Deep is an anti-racism training for white socially conscious mental health and social service workers.*

Deeper Than Skin Deep, a 20-hour weekend training, offers a serious and intentional dive into our anti-racism work.

• Increase our racial literacy

• Understand our whiteness

• Examine the colonization of the mental health and social work fields

• Develop our anti-racist and decolonizing perspectives into actual anti-racist practices


To decolonize therapy is to reconnect to the humanization of therapy, to reclaim therapy, to include systems and oppression into our therapy practices and analysis, and to re-humanize therapists (bring them down from some pedestals), as well as to center the person and their cultural and political identities back into the work. It is snatching psychology, social work, and counseling back from the wrinkled white hands of European men…To decolonize our therapy, we have to work on decolonizing our darn selves FIRST and really looking at our education, decisions, ways of living, and how we are part of the exploitation of resources (Mother Earth), and people (labor). - Jennifer Mulan


2020 is a unique moment in time for European-American helping professionals to do our anti-racism work with intention.

We may think the compassionate nature of our work means our professions are above systematic white supremacy. Realistically, we white mental health and social work practitioners participate in and benefit from education, training, testing, evaluation, and service provision rooted in racism, white patriarchy, capitalism, anti-Blackness, assimilation, and colonialism

As socially-conscious white helping professionals, we have decisions to make about if and what we will do; and when we will do it.

Some of us don't know where to start. Or are overwhelmed or too busy. Some of us could use support, structure, and guidance. Some of us haven't thought about it. Some of us have been doing "the work" and desire deeper exploration and self-reflection. Some of us haven't figured out when or what.

Join us. We all start somewhere. And hopefully, we don't stop until all of us are free.

Winter life during COVID-19 may provide unforeseen opportunity to hunker down and commit to your racial justice growth.

Deeper Than Skin Deep is a training for white helping professionals who want to commit dedicated time and effort to their anti-racism journey. To help create a more meaningful and personal connection, the training is capped at about 15 members.

*"White helping professionals" includes therapists, nonprofit mental health workers, CD counselors, social workers, psychologists, mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, wellness coaches, school and career counselors and social workers, community health workers, etc. This includes, graduate students or interns, or folx who are working in group practices, agencies or private practice, or unemployed, or retired. Participants from throughout the USA and beyond are welcome.

While this training is designed for white helping professionals (people of European descent), BIPOC helping professionals are welcome to join.

If you are interested in participating but don't fit into any of the above categories, contact Irene to discuss whether or not the program would be a good match for you.

Please see below for Why is Deeper Than Skin Deep a white affinity training space?

Deeper Than Skin Deep is offered on Friday, November 20 - Sunday, November 22, 2020. Friday is noon to 5. Saturday is 9am - 5p and Sunday is 9-430p. CST. There are generous breaks throughout. It's a commitment and investment of time and energy!

Zoom is the virtual platform. CEU certificates are available. (See below.) Specific information about the topics, terms, and concepts, as well as the writers, trainers, researchers, etc. are listed below in the Appendix.

The 20-hour weekend training will incorporate lecture, video, storytelling, large and small group discussion, personal reflection time, role-playing, somatic body check-ins, homework, personal sharing, and racial bias assessments. Using template options, each participant will create a plan for specific, meaningful, and realistic anti-racist action and accountability in their personal and professional lives.

Participants are invited to:

- commit to confidentiality and active participation

• stretch our personal and professional comfort edges with each other

- examine how completely white supremacist culture influences and benefits us personally and professionally

• strive for congruence with our professional ethics and personal values

- bring a willingness to be open to our and others' mistakes, healing, risks, change, and growth

• address our conflict-avoidant "white niceness" and "white is right" defensiveness

- develop meaningful and realistic plans for anti-racist actions and accountability

Facilitator and developer of Deeper Than Skin Deep: Irene Greene MSED | Greene Growth & Training | Irene works and lives on Anishinabe land, which is commonly known as Minneapolis, MN | | This training is an expanded version of similar trainings Irene has offered. See the Appendix for more information.

Register through Eventbrite. When you register, you will be asked to complete a list of questions. See the Appendix.

Fee: Free / Pay what you can. Note: No one is turned away for inability to pay. Contact Irene at if you have any questions.

The MN LGBTQ+ Therapists' Network will match each member's registration towards a scholarship fund for QBIPOC students in the fields of mental health and social work.

Barter for the weekend training: Irene is in need of someone to do tech assistance during the weekend training, i.e., coordinate Zoom break-out rooms, etc. Receive the groups as a bonus. If you are interested, contact irene@irenegreene

Any profits will be donated to MN Indian Women's Resource Center, 2300 15th Avenue South, Mpls, MN 55404

Donate: Whether you enroll in Deeper Than Skin Deep or not, consider donating to help offset others who are not able to pay. Every little bit helps. See the registration form. Thank you.

CEUs or College Credit: Depending on your profession, you may receive up to 20 Continuing Education Units (CEUs), including the Ethics requirement. CEU forms to submit to your boards are available from Irene. Check with your board to confirm your board's particular requirements for topic acceptance and CEU allotment for the number of covered workshop hours. College independent credit may also be possible. Check with your educational institution.

Provided: Throughout the training, you will receive handouts with definitions and concepts, worksheets, articles, self-assessments, and an extensive resource bibliography.

Another similar training for LGBTQPIA+ helpers: A 38-hour version (over 4 months) of this training is designed for LGBTQPIA+ helping professionals. The weekend training is Noon, Friday, October 23 - 430pCST, Sunday, October 25, 2020. It includes (optional)12 follow-up Action, Ally, and Accountability Groups, which meet on Thursdays, 4-530pCST (optional): Deeper Than Skin Deep: For White LGBTQPAI+ Helping Professionals: Facing Our Whiteness, Unlearning Racism, and Decolonizing Mental Health This training also addresses: Understanding Our Queer Whiteness in the context of our LGBTQPA2SI+ communities.

General points about Deeper Than Skin Deep:(1) In Deeper Than Skin Deep, (as with all of Irene's workshops and trainings) our diversity is nurtured, valued, and celebrated, including, though not limited to, the richness of our varying sexual, affectional, gender, spiritual, racial, ethnic, class, age, educational, employment, size, ability, and family configurations.

(2) Why is Deeper Than Skin Deep a white affinity training space? This program is designed for people of European and near-European descent.

[BIPOC helping professionals are welcome to join. However, please note this particular training may not be a helpful fit for you because it is designed for European-American (white) people. Feel free to contact me to discuss. I may know of similar trainings that may be more helpful.]

There are many training formats available for white people to address our whiteness and anti-racism work. There are differing opinions about anti-racism trainings being taught by a white trainer or being geared towards only white people. Based on her own experiences of giving and receiving anti-racism trainings in various configurations, Irene has found unique value for some white people to do some of "their work" in a white affinity space format. Following is an explanation from Irene Greene as to why she is doing this training in a white affinity space format.

When white people “do our work” When we white people do our educational work in white affinity or white caucus spaces, we can more appropriately center the needs, experiences, feelings, and perspectives of our whiteness. We are often more honest and vulnerable in unpacking our conscious and unconscious internalization of white supremacy. We can directly encourage ourselves and each other to shift to anti-racist and liberation-based insights and practices. We can directly address our desires to be "the best white person," "the best white ally," "the most anti-racist."

In white affinity spaces, we white people can grapple with our inevitable micro-aggressions and racial biases. We can address our stumbling reactions in the company of other white people, i.e., over-apologizing, over-explaining, guilt, white tears, shame, anger, blame, denial, etc. In these white spaces, we will not be able to look to BIPOC for permission, forgiveness, education, responsibility, validation, or comfort. Doing our privilege work together may help reduce at least some of the pain and disrespect our unexplored whiteness may cause BIPOC.

When we racial ally-intentioned white people develop supportive connections with similar white people, we may more effectively process our white perfectionism, white exhaustion, mistakes, and discomfort. We are often more open to examining our racial stereotypes and assumptions. Together, we can claim the growth and liberation that come with accepting our anti-racist responsibility and accountability.

A white affinity space offers white people an opportunity to muck around in our messiness, fear, and upset. We have space to heal our inter-generational moral injury, guilt, shame, and loss. Additionally, together we can learn to understand the roots of our white identity development and increase appreciation for our own ethnic background. (Connecting with our European ancestry often decreases white people's tendency to appropriate BIPOC culture.)

Note: It is essential to understand that too much time in white-only spaces can keep us in a safe, artificial allyship bubble. If we are protecting ourselves from taking risks, we are continuing to center our whiteness. Being in only white spaces significantly reduces our potential to build personal and professional relationships with people of the global majority. Additionally, it minimizes potential professional and personal alliances in our commitment to decolonizing mental health and social work and limits our agitating together for justice and liberation. True allyship is a verb, not a noun.

Irene Greene (I am happy to talk about other ways to view white affinity training spaces.

- The Emperor Has No Clothes: Teaching About Race and Racism to People Who Don't Want to Know by Tema Okun

- White Anti-Racism Affinity Groups: I Used to Be a Skeptic, But Now I'm an Evangelist (blog post by Justin C. Cohen)

- Guide to Race-Based Affinity Groups (UUA Youth and Adult Ministries)


• LGBTQPIA+: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Pansexual, Intersex, Asexual / LGBTQPI2SA+: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Pansexual, Intersex, Two-Spirit, Asexual

• QBIPOC: Queer Black Indigenous and People of Color

Appendix A:

Topics, terms, and concepts we will address or reference during the 20-hours include:

Decolonizing mental health and social work | white savior complex| The Pathology of Whiteness | Healing Ethno-Central Trauma (HEART), Healing-Centered Engagement | Moving beyond Trauma-Informed Care | Healing justice, racial justice, reparations | Intersectional feminism| Professional ethics and personal values | The intersections of environmental justice, queer justice, disability rights, women's rights, gender justice, health justice, religions freedom, and economic justice | Land acknowledgment | personal, cultural and systematic racism | Collective liberalism and liberatory consciousness: Awareness, Analysis, Action, Accountable Ally-ship | Complacency is Complicity| White racial identity development | Decentering whiteness, "calling in" and "calling out" | Multi-culturalism, white humility, cultural humility| Inter-generational white moral injury | Racial equity, racial equality, racial justice | Racist, non-racist, and anti-racist | Impact over intention | Dismantling the imperialist, white supremacist, capitalist, and patriarchal systems of oppression| Defunding the police, abolition, transformative justice, state violence, and the prison pipeline | Colonization, imperialism, fascism, white nationalism | White Liberalism, "white lady" liberalism, white woman violence, white feminism , "white women's tears," Karenism | Cultural appropriation, appreciation, and assimilation | Whiteness, white-body privilege, white violence, white gaze, white defensiveness, complacency and complacency, white fragility, white entitlement | Being the "good white person," performative allyship, earning allyship | White fear, trauma, and our psycho-biology and brain science: flight, fight, freeze, fawn and face| Systematic racism and COVID-19| Anti-Blackness, transmisogyny, and the killing of trans women of color | Racial bias and microaggression | Racial trauma, racial exhaustion, Black rage, and post-traumatic slave syndrome | Why ally is a verb; not a noun.

Resources and references will include the writings, blogs, speeches, art, videos, interviews, research, concepts, papers, and trainings by QBIPOC, BIPOC, and non-BIPOC:

Kay Cheng Thom, Jennifer Mulan, Resmaa Menakem, Ijeoma Oluo, bell hooks, Rachel Cargle, Janet Helms, Tema Okun, Kenneth Jones, Angela Davis, Cara Page, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Pema Chodron, Mary Pender Greene, Paul Levine, Judy Ryde, Staci K. Haines, Megan R. Gerber, Tyler McKinnish, Claire Burgess, Colleen Sloan, Joy DeGruy, Tiffany Jana, Renee Linklater, Jordan Flaherty, Ibram Kendi, Stephanie Jones-Rogers, Daina Ramey Berry, Kali Nicole Grow, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Beverly Daniel Tatum, Lama Rod Owens, Robin DiAngelo, Jennifer C. Nash, Layla F. Saad, Zeshan Mustafa, Reni Eddo-Lodge, Barbara J. Love, Paul Kivel, Ali Michael, Mary C. Cooper, Adam Getachew, Babe Kawaii-Bogue, Akala, Patrisse Khan-Cullors, Asha Bandela, Susan Raffo, Kenneth Hardy, Atum Azzahir, Manijeh Daneshpour, Jose G. Luiggi-Hernandez, R. Brockman, Paul Gorski, Noura Erakat, Catrice M. Jackson, Elisa Lacerda-Vandenborn, Mimi Khuc, Lambers Fisher, Patrick Grzanka, Keri Frantell, Ruth Fassinger, Vikram Kolmannskog, Ruth King, Brene Brown, Sonya Renee Taylor, Tarana Burke, Bree Newsome Bass, and more.

Appendix B:

Irene Greene MSED | Greene Growth & Training | Irene lives and works on Anishinaabe land, which is commonly known as Minneapolis, MN

I am a European-American (Irish, German, and Roma Gypsy) cisgender older woman, an "out" lesbian for over 35 years, a survivor, an intersectional feminist, a single parent by creative means, an avid Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) and MN Lynx Basketball fan, a community organizer and activist. I hail from a small conservative Catholic farming community in rural Minnesota. My mother was a schoolteacher, and my father was a farmer on land stolen from the Anishinabe, the Indigenous people who originally lived in this part of the Midwest. I am the third child of eight siblings. With all of their colliding lessons, these identities inform my motivation and dedication to the services I provide, and the communities I choose to serve.- Irene

Irene has 29+ years as an individual and relationship therapist, positive psychology wellness coach, activist, and educator. The majority of her clients identify as LGBTQ2SPIA+, BIPOC, QBIPOC, social justice activists, and health and wellness professionals. Irene has facilitated dozens of trainings on the topics of political trauma stress, compassion fatigue, burnout, vicarious trauma, resiliency, oppression fatigue, wellness during COVID-19, and anti-racist allyship. Irene facilitates a support group for Twin Cities Executive Directors (EDs) of LGBTQ+, HIV-AIDS & Social Justice Nonprofits. She is the Chair of the MN LGBTQ+ Therapists Network and a psychological first-aid street medic trainer. Irene is a past member of the MN Women in Psychology's steering committee and the first Director of the UM-Twin Cities Aurora Sexual Violence Program.

Specialized training and education

Kente Circle Training Institute:

  • Reclaiming Our Humanity and Voices through PROTEST: Responding to Racial Trauma and Violence by Kente Circle Training Institute – Fall Conference 2020
  • Order for A Communal Discourse: Embracing Racial Consciousness by Kente Circle Training Institute - Fall Conference 2019
  • Keeping the Faith: In the Midst of Racial Oppression by Kente Circle Training Institute - Fall Conference 2018
  • Healing in Community: Shifting the Burden of Dismantling Racism by Kente Circle Training Institute - Fall Conference 2017

Advanced Equity Skills for Clinicians by Rebecca Davis and Shea Lowery Anti-Racist Trauma-Informed Care by artic LLC (Anti-Racist Trauma-Informed Care)

Movement Trauma Healer Training Program, School of Global Citizenry

Understanding Movement Trauma for Healers TRACC (Trauma Response and Crisis Care) 4 Movements by Teresa Mateus

Racial Trauma by Lilian Daz, American Psychologists Association

White People Confronting Racism 20-hour training by Training for Change

Multi-cultural Awareness and Diversity: Strategies to Advance Rapport and Cultural Competency by Lambers Fisher

A Therapists' Path for Exploring Implicit Bias and Racial Trauma with Janina Fisher, Debra Chatman-Finley, and Gliceria Pérez

White Fragility and White-Body Supremacy by Resmaa Menakem and Robin DiAngelo

Journey to Allyship by Catrice Jackson

Training the Trainer Anti-Racism Project for nonprofit programs of MN Coalition of Battered Women and MN Coalition Against Sexual Assault Services

Post-Graduate Certificate in Positive Psychology Well-Being Coaching, (PPWBC) National Board Certification Training Program, College of Executive Coaching

Master of Science in Education Degree with a concentration in Guidance and Counseling: Community Counseling & Counseling Women from the University of Wisconsin-Superior's Guidance and Counseling Program of the Educational Leadership Department, Clinical Mental Health Counseling Track, Highest Honors

Appendix C:

Registration Questions

Answering these questions is part of the registration process. Brief answers are welcome. Understandably, some concepts may be unfamiliar. These questions will give you a window into our discussion topics. Hopefully, your answers will offer you clarity about where you are and hope to be in your personal and professional journey of unlearning racism and decolonizing your work. Your answers will also help me to get to know you.

1. Please share a bit about yourself. If you know, include your ethnic and racial background.

2. The Deeper Than Skin Deep program asks participants to commit time, effort, and openness to their training experience. What will make this easy or challenging for you?

3. What are you hoping to gain from your participation in Deeper Than Skin Deep?

4. What concerns, if any, do you have about participating in Deeper Than Skin Deep?

5. Participants in Deeper Than Skin Deep will be at different places in our understanding of racism, whiteness, white supremacy, anti-racism, decolonization, and liberation. How will this be for you?

6. What is a race-related issue you grapple with? (i.e., guilt, looting during protests, blue lives matter, slavery, defunding the police, talking with white clients or family about race, talking with BIPOC clients about race, police at Pride)

7. When we white people are doing our anti-racism work, we often become self-protective. This can show up as fear, denial, anger, competition, discomfort, guilt, dissociation, or shame. How might you react?

c 2020

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