What is racial trauma?

There are various ways to conceptualise racial trauma but all have at their core as a defining feature, racism and its various manifestations as the cause of psychological (or social) distress or ‘disturbance’.

Is racial trauma different from race-based (traumatic) stress?

It depends on who you ask. At Race Reflections, we tend not to make a strict distinction on a day to day basis between these conceptualisations. Some clinicians and researchers argue that the difference between stress/traumatic stress and trauma is a qualitative one, that is to say, that it is one of degree of distress rather than type, we are more or less aligned with this position. It may also be worth noting other expressions or phraseologies exist to refer to the same phenomenon (e.g racial stress, race-related trauma…)

How do I know if I have experienced racial trauma?

Racial trauma is not a formal diagnosis but a conceptual framework to help understand particular experiences of distress linked to racism. It is a way to therefore make visible the possible harmful and unaddressed consequences of racism you may grapple with so as to centre appropriate care, support and healing.

Chances are most people who experience racism will experience some form of stress or distress as a result. How we respond to racist experiences is going to be a function of a number of factors including our prior life experiences, intersectional issues as well as the amount of support we have. It is a good idea to seek help if race-related experiences are impacting on your wellbeing or your ability to lead a fulfilling life. Contacting your GP as the first line of call is advisable if you are struggling.

What is racial trauma coaching?

The coaching support we offer is primarily geared towards helping navigate race-based issues causing you difficulties in your engagement with the RSC.

Our coaching model is based on a collaborative engagement with our coachees around the racial issues they have experienced and which are causing them stress or distress in order to 1) arrive at a shared understanding of their meaning 2) delineate an actionable self-care and navigational plan based on strengths and available resources 3) review goals and blockers along the way.

How many sessions will I receive?

You will receive up to four sessions of about 50 minutes arranged weekly, fortnightly or monthly depending on needs and preferences.

It is important to remember racial trauma coaching is not therapy focused on racial trauma. We rarely delve into the depth of your history (although we may invite relevant reflections as appropriate and/or signpost you where this would be helpful) nor can we offer the sort of holding or containing environment required for those significantly distressed by racism, at risk of self-harm or with histories of ‘severe and enduring’ mental health ‘problems’ under these coaching provisions.

In these cases clinical rather than coaching support is recommended as the first point of call.

Is the coaching support confidential?

Yes, the coaching we offer is confidential. This means we will not discuss the contents of your particular sessions with anyone at the RSC unless you give us your consent and we believe it is in your interest.

Will I have to pay for the support?

No, the coaching support is a provision fully funded by the RSC.

Who will offer the coaching?

There are currently four members of staff who can offer racial trauma coaching at Race Reflections, they are all supervised by Guilaine Kinouani – one of the countries’ experts on racial trauma. Who you work with is going to be dependent on your availability and theirs.

How long will I have to wait?

When you get in touch, using the form below, expect to hear from us within a week and to be offered an appointment within 14 days at the very latest. Please note you may have to wait a little longer to actually speak to someone although we try hard to speak to you quickly.

Can you suggest a few resources on racial trauma?

We have suggested a few articles with hyperlinks below and additional resources too. However, if you would like additional material, look out for the resources section on the website, which will have more information.

Racial Trauma: Theory, Research, and Healing: Introduction to the Special Issue.

Race-Based Traumatic Stress

Additional reading

Kinouani, G (2021). Living While Black: The Essential Guide to Overcoming Racial Trauma. London: Ebury: Penguin Random House.

Bryant-Davis, T., & Ocampo, C. (2006). A therapeutic approach to the treatment of racist-incident-based trauma. Journal of Emotional Abuse, 6(4), 1-22. doi:10.1300/J135v06n04_01

Comas-Díaz, L. (2016). Racial trauma recovery: A race-informed therapeutic approach to racial wounds. In Alvarez, A.N. (Ed); Liang, C. T. H. (Ed); Neville, H. A. (Ed), The cost of racism for people of color: Contextualizing experiences of discrimination. Cultural, racial, and ethnic psychology book series (pp. 249-272). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association. DOI: 10.1037/14852-012

DeGruy, J. (2005). Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome. Uptone Press. ISBN 978-0963401120

To arrange for racial trauma coaching use the form below.