Tag: mental health


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Blog post by Tanya Scuccimarra, GSCI

The American Psychological Association (APA) defines microaggressions as everyday slights, invalidations, and belittlements often targeting minority or marginalized groups. We can think of minority and marginalized groups as any ethnic, racial, religious, or social subdivision that is considered subordinate to the dominant group. The dominant group is often in the majority and holds the most power, social status, and privilege within any given society. Therefore, the dominant group defines what is socially and economically valuable and desired. Some of the minority or marginalized groups represented in the United States are comprised of Black, Latinx, and Indigenous folks, women, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. 

Microaggression was coined in the 1970s by Chester M. Pierce, MD (1927-2016), an African-American psychiatrist and professor of education and psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Pierce proposed the concept of racial microaggressions to define the demeaning, often subtle insults hurled against minorities. Dr. Pierce put language to the subtle insults and often nonverbal put-downs of Black and African-American individuals and communities. Dr. Pierce exposed how racial-microaggressions thinly concealed explicit racism and caused harm—mentally, emotionally, socially, physically, economically, politically, legally, educationally, and medically—to Black and African-American communities. 

Microaggressions can take place in any environmental setting in the form of back-handed comments or dismissive behaviors. These insulting exchanges are commonplace and whether intentional or unintentional, the derogatory slights are intended to harm the target person or group. Microaggressions restrict individuals and groups from obtaining upward mobility and can block access to basic necessities like housing, food, health insurance, gainful employment, and educational opportunities. Psychologists have since expanded on microaggressions to include not only race, but gender, and sexual orientation.

The mental health field recognizes that microaggressions are linked to depression, anxiety, trauma, low self-esteem, and feeling dismissed and invisible to society. Seeking support and reaching out to a therapist is a healthy first step in gaining a deeper understanding of microaggressions and the impact on mental health.

While one post cannot possibly convey the complexities of microaggressions, I want to leave the reader with a brief description of three of the most common microaggressions:

Racial Microaggressions: 

  • Micro-assaults: an explicit racial derogation; verbal/nonverbal; e.g. name-calling, avoidant behavior, purposeful discriminatory actions.
  • Micro-insults: communications that convey rudeness and insensitivity and demean a person's racial heritage or identity; subtle snubs; unknown to the perpetrator; hidden insulting message to the recipient.
  • Micro-invalidations: communications that exclude, negate, or nullify the psychological thoughts, feelings, or experiential reality of a person belonging to a particular group.

Gender Microaggressions:

  • Sexual objectification 
  • Second-class citizenship 
  • Use of sexist language 
  • Assumption of inferiority 
  • Restrictive gender roles 
  • Denial of the reality of sexism 
  • Denial of individual sexism 
  • Invisibility 
  • Sexist humor/jokes 
  • Environmental invalidations: macrolevel aggressions that happen on systemic and environmental level (unequal pay; glass ceiling; media images) 

Sexual Orientation Microaggressions:

  • The automatic assumption that individuals are heterosexual or “straight”
  • The automatic assumption that married or partnered individuals are in heteronormative/heterosexual relationships
  • Curating academic courses centering the heteronormative experience
  • Dismissing LGBTQ+ history and/or leaving it out altogether in school textbooks 
  • Using derogatory, disparaging, and inflammatory language towards any member of the LGBTQ+ community (“That’s so gay”, “No homo”, “tranny”, “she-male”, “faggot”, “dyke”)
  • Harassment and bullying based on an individual’s implied or explicit sexual orientation
  • Biases in workplaces, schools, institutions, clubs, and social settings that impact LGBTQ+ individuals 
  • Using “Discomfort” or “Disapproval” of LGBTQ+ individuals as a catalyst for discrimination


Clay, R. (2017). Did You Really Just Say That? American Psychological Association, 48(1), 46. doi:https://www.apa.org/monitor/20...

DeAngelis, T. (2009, February). Unmasking 'racial microaggressions'. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/monitor/20...

Gehrman, E. (2019, December 12). Microaggressions and their role in mental illness. Retrieved from https://news.harvard.edu/gazet...

Griffith, E. E. (2016, October 28). Chester Middlebrook Pierce, M.D.: A Life That Mattered. Retrieved from https://psychnews.psychiatryon...

Lui, P. P., & Quezada, L. (2019, April 10). Microaggressions: What They Are, And How They Are Associated With Adjustment Outcomes. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/pubs/highl...

Nadal, K. (2018). Microaggressions and Traumatic Stress: Theory, Research, and Clinical Treatment. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/pubs/books... 

National Science Foundation (Ed.). (n.d.). Making the Invisible Visible: Gender Microaggressions. Retrieved from https://www.unh.edu/sites/defa...

Sue, D. W., Capodilupo, C. M., Torino, G. C., Bucceri, J. M., Holder, A. M. B., Nadal, K. L., & Esquilin, M. (2007). Racial microaggressions in everyday life: Implications for clinical practice. American Psychologist, 62(4), 271-286. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.roll...

To book an appointment with Tanya Scuccimarra, click here.

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  • antiracism
  • community
  • counseling
  • mental health
  • multiculturalism
  • racial justice
  • relationships
  • resilience
  • self help
  • self-care

What is your body trying to tell you?

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What is your body trying to tell you?

Blog post by Kat Deery, GSCI

Have you ever experienced a break out of acne after a stressful week? Random pains occur in your body without explanation? Or perhaps you're developing arthritis in your thirties, wondering how could this be? Well sometimes these occurrences can be explained through Somatic Therapy.

Somatic Therapy is an approach to therapy that focuses on the mind-body-soul connection. This theory supports the idea that what manifests in the physical is a reflection of what is happening mentally and emotionally. It’s known that stress can take a physical toll on the body: you may be more irritable, your sleep patterns may be disrupted, or your appetite changes. Our central nervous system adjusts and reacts to the emotional and mental stress we experience. When traumatic experiences lay dormant and do not receive the proper attention they deserve, the emotional stress of it all can get stuck in the body and manifest itself in physical ways. 

Somatic therapy is an experiential process that can work in conjunction with other psychotherapy approaches to counseling like cognitive behavioral therapy to alleviate symptoms and facilitate healing. This type of therapy is often used with clients who are experiencing anxiety, depression, grief, trauma, chronic pain or illness, etc. Interventions like deep breathing, meditation, exercise, yoga, dance, art therapy, and cognitive reframing are all ways to facilitate body-mind-soul connection and spark some self awareness. 

Why is Somatic Therapy relevant to counseling today?

It’s no question that 2020 has been a challenging year for all of us, with a global pandemic occurring, racial injustices continuing, jobs being lost, family members isolated, travel plans cancelled, online schooling, political arguments, and so much more it’s no wonder rates of depression and anxiety are increasing. 

I encourage you to take a look at your body’s wellbeing. Has it been affected by these events over the last few months...Are you seeing any changes that concern you? What is your body telling you? Do you need more rest? Do you need to implement  boundaries with those around you? Do you need more love and acceptance of yourself? 

Sometimes chronic pain like arthritis is your body telling you that it feels criticized or you're holding on to resentment. Acne could be your body telling you that you need to increase acceptance of the self. 

Somatic therapy can provide healing to those who participate because not only does it relieve some of the physical symptoms it investigates the root cause and attempts to heal those wounds from the inside out. Using techniques like positive self-talk, intentional body movement, and cognitive restructuring are incredible ways to combat the emotional causes for our physical symptoms. Somatic therapy is not a replacement for professional medical care but it is a great addition to improve how we care for our bodies, mind, body and spirit. 


Hay, L. L. (2012). Heal your body: The mental causes for physical illness and the metaphysical way to overcome them. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House.

Somatic Therapy. (n.d.). Retrieved September 09, 2020, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapy-types/somatic-therapy

To book an appointment with Katherine Deery, click here.

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  • anxiety
  • counseling
  • covid
  • depression
  • healing
  • mental health
  • mindfulness
  • psychotherapy
  • resilience
  • self help
  • self-care
  • somatic experiencing
  • stress