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From Race to Culture in the Supervision of Therapeutic Practice

Headshot of Elder Atum Azzahir
Elder Atum Azzahir, Founder and Executive Director of the Cultural Wellness Center

Since 2019, Change Inc. has partnered with The Cultural Wellness Center to be a part of its mission of unleashing the power of people to heal themselves and build community. Initially starting with a collaboration on building the Rites of Passage program facilitated by Change Inc.'s Director of Community Solutions, Corey Byrd, it has most recently evolved to include a 15 CEU course in supervision focused on how culture affects one's work as a supervisor.

From Race to Culture in the Supervision of Therapeutic Practice is a 15-hour class facilitated in partnership with the Cultural Wellness Center that engages participants in the process of cultural self-discovery in service to their ability to mentor and support their future supervisees in a similar approach. The course addresses contextual factors of race, ethnicity, and culture. It considers the dynamics of power and privilege that impact the therapeutic and supervisory relationship.

The Cultural Wellness Center is based in Minneapolis and has been in existence since 1996. Throughout its years, it has aided the community in recovering the culture of Black people in America and the work of standing firm in that humanity and human experiences are for everyone.

An instructor of From Race to Culture in the Supervision of Therapeutic Practice, Elder Atum Azzahir, is the founder and Executive Director of the Cultural Wellness Center. It is truly her life's work. Azzahir says, "I see myself as dedicating the work of the Cultural Wellness Center to Black people as we reclaim our heritage and culture and really push ourselves out into freedom, as opposed to waiting for freedom to be given to us."

Headshot of Minkara Tezet
Minkara Tezet, Griot of Psychology and Psychiatry of the Cultural Wellness Center

The second instructor of the From Race to Culture in the Supervision of Therapeutic Practice course is Minkara Tezet, Griot of Psychology and Psychiatry of the Cultural Wellness Center. Minkara started his work at the Cultural Wellness Center ten years ago as a fellow due to his own need for cultural recovery and was taught by the Elders of the Cultural Wellness Center. He says his work is to learn how to tell the story of people of African heritage, the life they've been forced to develop in our society, and how it's impacted the psychology of their minds, bodies, and spirits.

Change Inc. started its partnership with the Cultural Wellness Center through its relationship with the Council for Black Male Success. A leader for Council for Black Male Success, Change Inc.'s Corey Byrd, formed a relationship with Elder Atum, and brainstorming of how the two organizations could collaborate on healing efforts began. After some time, members of both the Cultural Wellness Center and Change Inc. worked together to ponder what it meant for Change Inc. to not only be a place where culturally-specific work can happen but to actually create avenues and strategies where people could create and promote the idea of all cultural beings. According to Tezet, "All cultural people need a place where they can study themselves, study their culture, and see the impact that it's having on their work.

So, just as Change Inc.'s own Change Institute offers courses and training to community members and students, the Cultural Wellness Center aims to provide complimentary offerings. As part of certification to become a Marriage and Family Therapist or Licensed Professional Counselor, 45 hours of training in supervision are needed, with 15 of those hours dedicated to cultural competency and cultural diversity. Change Institute offers the first 30 hours, and the Cultural Wellness Center instructs the final 15 hours in cultural diversity and inclusion training.

In working with Change Inc.'s Executive Director, Jody Nelson, and Change Inc.'s Training Coordinator, Nick Krause, the Cultural Wellness Center was able to see this concept of coaching and doing their own training courses that could fit in very closely with the training and certification that Change Inc was already providing.

Because science and medicine mainly come from Western culture, one of the goals of this course is for participants to look at themselves and reflect on whether or not their past learnings have been restoring of themselves. Do they separate themselves as a therapist from their true selves? If they are divided internally, bringing a holistic approach with them will be challenging as they begin to work with other people who are also separated and looking for support.

Elder Atum says, "the feedback we have gotten on the course gives us great encouragement. I think that the concept of culture, because it's so new to many people of European heritage, they're the first to say, 'I don't have culture.' But, in these sessions, people study themselves to see where culture has actually informed everything they've done."

She says that in their sessions, they see people beginning to learn and unlearn the things that relate to culture for them. "And that, to us, is a competency. It's a skill. It's a very important foundation for the work that they're trying to do to heal others," says Elder Atum.

What's unique about this course is that this is the only course on this topic. The Cultural Wellness Center fully developed the curriculum. They have experience developing curricula for all the organizations they work with. They are undeniably a knowledge production, curriculum, research, and development organization.

Tezet and Elder Atum believe Change Inc. is the perfect partnership because the Cultural Wellness Center specializes in alternative ways of knowing, learning, and teaching. Change Inc. provides proven alternative teaching modalities and methods. Together, they can prove that the alternative is legitimate and that culture is knowledge and knowledge is power. ​

From Race to Culture in the Supervision of Therapeutic Practice has been offered three times since its conception, with another offering of the course set for later this year.

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