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Jan 18, 2021

White Terrorism and Therapy

Curt and Katie chat about the attack on the US Capitol by radicalized Trump supporters. We talk about the role therapists play in addressing white supremacist terrorism, how to support clients in responding to a domestic terror attack, and what therapy looks like for clients who are impacted by Trump supporters or radical rhetoric. We also talk about the challenge of finding compassion, the need for thoughtful communication, and ideas about how to move forward.

It’s time to reimagine therapy and what it means to be a therapist. To support you as a whole person and a therapist, your hosts, Curt Widhalm and Katie Vernoy talk about how to approach the role of therapist in the modern age.

In this episode we talk about:

  • White Supremacy Terrorism, Domestic Terrorism, and the definition of Terrorism
  • The evolving threat of White Supremacy
  • Our responses to the domestic terrorism activity, the insurrection at the Capitol
  • Processing the event in real time during sessions, with clients with double screen
  • The lack of definition in the role of therapists during this time
  • Thoughts related to people connecting violence to mental illness
  • QAnon, other groups and the need to understand what they are, the signs
  • The different types of clients coming into our office and how to support them
  • Dealing with the “white stuff” like white apathy, being further removed from the events
  • Susceptibility to political reactionism
  • Trauma around safety, responses to the lack of equity, vulnerability, marginalization
  • The importance of opening conversations and allowing clients to fully express their experience
  • Supporting clients who have been pushed away from Trump supporters among family or friends
  • Self-Identity versus Family-Identity
  • Responding to divisive messages
  • The complexity of interacting with someone who has been radicalized
  • The need for community and connection to shift the culture
  • What to do when a client who is in the process of being radicalized enters your therapy office
  • The harm of “what about-ism”
  • Risk factors for radicalization
  • Conversations beyond Tarasoff and safety planning
  • Desire for connection, attachment needs
  • Simplicity of radicalized rhetoric and the goal to dig deeper into underlying needs and goal
  • The possibility of therapy as a counter to the division
  • Societal change, needed messaging, taking care of disenfranchised folks
  • We are pro-human
  • The need for compassionate communication
  • Making things real to people who are disconnected and have the option to opt out, so they choose and can re-engage in the societal change that is needed
  • A reminder to take care of yourselves as therapists during this time

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Resources mentioned:

We’ve pulled together resources mentioned in this episode and put together some handy-dandy links. Please note that some of the links below might be affiliate links, so if you purchase after clicking below, we may get a little bit of cash in our pockets. We thank you in advance!

FBI definition of Terrorism

Article: Terrorists are only Muslim but Never White: At the Intersection of Critical Race Theory and Propaganda

Article: The Guardian – White Supremacy as the biggest threat to the US

Article: Whiteness on the Couch

Article: White Supremacy and Counseling Psychology

Article: Therapy Den – How to Take Care of Yourself in the face of White Supremacist Terror


Relevant Episodes:

Mass Shooters and Mental Illness

Ally is a Verb

Therapy as a Political Act

Treating Political Reactionism and the War on Science

Iran, The News, and Your Clients


Connect with us!

Our Facebook Group – The Modern Therapists Group

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Who we are:

Curt Widhalm is in private practice in the Los Angeles area. He is the cofounder of the Therapy Reimagined conference, former CFO of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, an Adjunct Professor at Pepperdine University, a former Subject Matter Expert for the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, and a loving husband and father. He is 1/2 great person, 1/2 provocateur, and 1/2 geek, in that order. He dabbles in the dark art of making "dad jokes" and usually has a half-empty cup of coffee somewhere nearby. Learn more at:

Katie Vernoy is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, coach, and consultant supporting leaders, visionaries, executives, and helping professionals to create sustainable careers. Katie, with Curt, has developed workshops and a conference, Therapy Reimagined, to support therapists navigating through the modern challenges of this profession. Katie is also Past President of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. In her spare time, Katie is secretly siphoning off Curt's youthful energy, so that she can take over the world. Learn more at:

A Quick Note:

Our opinions are our own. We are only speaking for ourselves – except when we speak for each other, or over each other. We’re working on it.

Our guests are also only speaking for themselves and have their own opinions. We aren’t trying to take their voice, and no one speaks for us either. Mostly because they don’t want to, but hey.


Stay in Touch:

Our Facebook Group – The Modern Therapist’s Group



Voice Over by DW McCann

Music by Crystal Grooms Mangano