I want to write a blog post in response, or rather as a follow-up to my liberation psychology talk that honours a reply I made at the end of it to the questions: “How can we start getting involved in liberation psychologies?” and “If it feels like a lot to take in, how do we start this work?”.
Here is the talk for context:
Here is what I think may help to start practising liberation psychologies:
- Check out liberation psychologies and check in with yourself: maybe you are doing it already (I was, and I had no idea!).
- Research liberation and liberation psychologies (start with my talk; it is full of references and starting points) – feel into this work – how is it aligned with your values, and what resonates?
- Apply liberation principles to your work, even if you start small.
- Credit and acknowledge those who came before you; while systemically, we often live the stories and systems of dead people, we do stand on the shoulders of the giants who came before us and who already walk this work.
- Connect with fellow liberation practitioners – through reading, online and in-person. If you struggle to find them, start small: read one book that will help you find the authors online and notice others too.
- Seek challenges and work on solutions – research local causes that address specific challenges – liberation practitioners work on solutions first; the development of the psychological approach follows and often maybe isn’t even labelled.
- LISTEN – sit in SILENT oppressions and investigate them curiously – what else is there? How can my psychological training support those who suffer in silence?
- Embody your practices, move from your head to your heart and practice collective, heart-led and mind-informed approaches. That is why liberation practitioners often operate in community psychologies, sociology or psycho-social studies or on the outskirts of mainstream approaches.
- Learn to rest, restore and intentionally switch off, and build up your community of support – this work is exhausting, raw and often painful. Learn to manage your energies wisely. Prepare for heart-breaking work.
- Plan long-term – maybe today, this work is not possible for you; however, if you wish to practice liberation, what do you need to get to that point? Plan for it and move forward.
How not to get involved or what can make the process challenging:
- Notice and do not ignore harm we may be doing as practitioners, as an industry or as perceived industry leaders – put your ego aside, respect resistance, practice advocacy, allyship and micro-affirmations
- Notice dysfunction and toxic environments – you will need support, or you will need to nod and move on.
- Notice resistance from the place of power and privilege; name it if it’s safe, and work through it – don’t expect others to hold this for you.
- Notice internalised individualism and ask for support, build tribes.
- Notice internalised displacements and oppressions – do the work on your trauma all the time.
- Notice when you think you know and unlearn that again and again.
It is also possible that liberation practices will find you – that is what happened to me, and I wrote about it in a separate, more personal post here.