Processing the Current Political Climate with Clients


Note: This live virtual workshop took place in September 2020. If you’re interested in seeing this topic presented again, please contact us at !

Program Description:

The current divisive political climate in the United States and in many other parts of the world has increasingly become a stressor in people’s lives regardless of their beliefs. As a result, people are reporting high levels of stress and political anxiety along with strained relationships with family members, friends, and colleagues. Although historically many psychotherapists behaved as if political conversations were not welcome in psychotherapy, our psychotherapy practices have undeniably been impacted by the latest political news and the associated painful emotions and sense of helplessness and hopelessness. Thus, it is imperative that we be mindful about creating a space for political conversations that are informative, therapeutic, and associated with strengthening the alliance and positive growth on the part of all parties. The processing of the impact of the current political climate on our clients’ lives can lay the groundwork for deeper therapeutic work, more authentic therapeutic alliances, and more meaningful psychological growth for the client(s) and the therapist.
This interactive workshop will begin with a discussion of setting the tone for creating a therapeutic context within which the impact of the stress associated with the current political climate can be assessed and addressed. This will be followed by a description of the nature, symptoms, and effects on biopsychosocial-cultural functioning of political anxiety along with an approach for ascertaining normative and nonnormative levels of such anxiety. Then an integrative and values-based framework with associated strategies that can be used to guide individual and couple/family therapies that address politics and political similarities and differences will be presented. This will include consideration of the handling of conversations related to politics with clients whose political affiliation is congruent with the therapist, as well as with those whose politics are quite different and the positive and potentially problematic impact of such discussions or lack thereof on the therapeutic relationship. It also will examine how the therapist’s social identities inform these conversations. Throughout the workshop, vignettes from the presenter and audience members will be used to highlight each of the key points.

Learning Objectives

  • Create a context within the therapeutic relationship to support discourse about politics that is therapeutic in nature.
  • Utilize information about the nature and impact of political anxiety and the most vulnerable sub-populations to assess when such anxiety is above a normative threshold and requires specific intervention.
  • Develop a guiding psychotherapeutic framework for empowering clients to develop and utilize healthy coping mechanisms that address how the political climate impacts their lives and relationships.
  • Explain or discuss the therapeutic benefits and challenges of engaging in voluntary and requested self-disclosure (therapist), having in-depth discourse about politics, and attending to political differences.

Continuing Education Credit – 3 Hours

  • APA – Avant Training is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Avant Training maintains responsibility for this program and its content.
  • LCSW –  This workshop is approved for Core CE hours through the Georgia Society for Clinical Social Work.
  • LPC, LMFT- Related hours

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