Washington State Chapter Boosts Fragility, Implicit Bias Training

By Alison Laurio

When NASW’s Washington Chapter members asked for more training on fragility and implicit bias, Executive Director Jeremy Arp brought in Sarah Dailey, MA, LMFT, for a workshop, “Analyzing Our Whiteness: Privilege, Bias, and Fragility.”

“The workshop defines key cultural competency concepts, privilege, bias and fragility, and aims to increase awareness of one’s own biases to reduce barriers to good clinical care,” Arp said.Dailey’s program includes “small group activities, and larger group discussions designed to encourage introspection and application of insights in the therapy context and beyond” he said.

“Therapists need to continue to take opportunities to explore their own privilege, biases and fragility in order to work toward dismantling white supremacy.”

Dailey is a licensed telehealth marriage and family therapist who works with varied clients on a variety of clinical issues. Her practice is called Connected Perspectives, PLLC. Her workshop objectives for the program include exploring one’s own personal cultural identity; defining key cultural competency concepts including privilege, bias and fragility; and increasing awareness of one’s own biases to reduce barriers to good clinical care.

Dailey said it can be hard to get rid of biases, “because they’re entrenched in our society.”

First, a person must recognize the biases are there. Indications can include feelings of being defensive, resistant or hurt; and the desire to leave, explain or intellectualize.

There are ways to address these biases, Dailey said, including: noticing when a bias is triggered; not shying away from it or avoiding it; reviewing and accepting feedback; realizing it’s OK to be uncomfortable; striving to be open and curious; and working toward changing your behavior.

“White fragility is the state in which even a minimal amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves,” she said. The process is not the end result.

“You need a commitment to an ongoing process of personal reflection. Every human has biases and we all need to be more aware of our biases — understanding and awareness of white fragility and our own privileges and biases.”

Dailey said the program is not only for white people. “It’s for anyone who experiences white privilege, not only white people, as many people benefit from white privilege. It’s for anyone who wants to engage with their own white privilege and engage in clinical care.”

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