Racial trauma, or race-based traumatic stress (RBTS), refers to the mental and emotional injury caused by encounters with racial bias and ethnic discrimination, racism, and hate crimes. Any individual that has experienced an emotionally painful, sudden, and uncontrollable racist encounter is at risk of suffering from a race-based traumatic stress injury. In the U.S., Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) are most vulnerable due to living under a system of white supremacy.
Experiences of race-based discrimination can have detrimental psychological impacts on individuals and their wider communities. In some individuals, prolonged incidents of racism can lead to symptoms like those experienced with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This can look like depression, anger, recurring thoughts of the event, physical reactions (e.g. headaches, chest pains, insomnia), hypervigilance, low-self-esteem, and mentally distancing from the traumatic events. Some or all of these symptoms may be present in someone with RBTS and symptoms can look different across different cultural groups. Race-related stressors may be especially detrimental because they could be perceived as a direct attack on an individual’s identity.
Racial trauma leads to higher rates of depression, anxiety, and stress. It has also been linked to posttraumatic stress disorder, substance use disorders, and other serious psychological conditions. Experiences of racism against people of color build on each other and over time, can chip away at one’s emotional, physical, and spiritual resources. Here are some signs that may indicate a person is experiencing racial trauma:
Avoiding situations that are related to racism or reminders of past racist experiences.
Distrusting others due to multiple losses or letdowns.
Feeling triggered by reminders of a racist experience, which can lead to strong emotional or physical responses (e.g., crying or rapid heartbeat).
Experiencing difficulty controlling emotional responses.
Being hypervigilant or overly alert about potential dangers or negative experiences because of one’s race.
Are you ready to experience your transformation?
Here is what you can expect working with Dr. Danielle as your healing journey will be supported in the following ways:
Dismantle the impact of internalized racism. You will learn how to reduce feelings of guilt and shame.
Enhance your self-care and coping skills. You will overcome feeling stuck in a vicious cycle of self-defeating behaviors that prevent progress.
Learn strategies to combat racism. You will be equipped with tools to navigate toxic environments.
Empower your process. Imagine increasing your feelings of agency, reduce feelings of helplessness, experience self-empowerment, posttraumatic growth, and making meaning for the next chapter of your life!
Dr. Danielle Spearman-Camblard is a leading racial trauma expert providing therapy and culturally-informed services for minoritized ethnic or racial groups. She received specialized advanced training on racial trauma treatment. She screens for experiences of racial discrimination and assesses race-based stress and anxiety-related symptoms to monitor progress during the treatment process.
Dr. Spearman-Camblard has served as an international keynote speaker on the topic of racial stress and trauma at the International Congress on Mindfulness and Mental Well-Being in London, UK. She has presented at conferences on the impact of racism on mental health for notable organizations such as the Friedman Brain Institute and the Mount Sinai Office of Diversity and Inclusion in New York. She is a media contributor in the popular press on topics such as systemic racism, the racism pandemic and vicarious race-based trauma related to the murder of George Floyd, and anti-racism education in the workplace for Business Insider/Insider, Inc., Reuters, and U.S. News & World Report. Read more about her In the Media.
Learn more about her racial trauma psychological evaluations for legal consultative services.
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