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Amorie Robinson to present for LGBTs of color at MPA
Michigan Psychological Association focuses on LGBT issues
By Crystal Proxmire
Originally printed 4/26/2012 (Issue 2017 - Between The Lines News)
Dr. Amorie Robinson will be among the speakers at the Michigan Psychological Association's 2012 Spring Convention, which takes places April 27 at the Henry Center in Lansing. The conference theme is LGBT issues and five experts will present information that will help psychologists throughout the state to better serve their diverse clienteles.
"It's my belief that the majority of those in my profession want to behave ethically when working clinically with patients, especially when it comes to patients that differ from us culturally. However, all psychologists, including myself, are not always equipped or accurately informed about populations that may not have been covered during our graduate school training," says Robinson. "When I was in grad school, there were no courses specifically on LGBTs as patients and gay people were pathologized by terms like 'homosexuality' and 'arrest development. The MPA's convention is a fine opportunity for psychologists and other mental health providers to gain a critical understanding of the complex nature of having a minority patient with same-sex attractionality and how it impacts their human behavior, identity, and self-esteem."
Presentations include Jay Michaelson speaking about spirituality, Judith Kovach speaking about research, Melissa Grey speaking on working with young adults, Anthony De Orio speaking about working with parents, and Robinson (who is also known locally as Kofi Afua Adoma) speaking about people of color.
Robinson's presentation is called "The Rainbow Within the Rainbow: Working Toward Positive Mental Health Outcomes for our LGBT of Color Clients." The objective is to assist psychologists with becoming more familiar with some of the major psychological challenges of being a lesbian or gay male of color in America. "I plan to focus specifically on gaining insights into many of the psychosocial and sociocultural experiences of lesbian and gay adults and youth who identify as Asian American, Latino/a, Middle-Eastern, and African American and why there is a need for cultural competencies when working therapeutically with such individuals and families," Robinson said. "Psychologists and the public in general, are starting to realize that LGBT's are not going to go away and that it's in our best interests to learn all we can about them as a richly complex and diverse group. My workshop aims to focus on helping psychologists raise their level of awareness and understanding of these complexities for LGBTs of color so that they can take best care of their patients and their families."
Robinson continues, "For instance, when a patient of Asian descent comes out to her family and you as a psychologist are conducting a family therapy session, who should be in the room? What are likely to be the expectations from the parent(s) that are based on cultural and spiritual beliefs? How is it best to communicate the coming out process to the family with consideration to their cultural values? Likewise, during an era of Trayvon Martin-type reminders of racial profiling, how is it affecting young Black gay youth, some of who are on the street homeless and vulnerable to police interrogation?"
Robinson earned her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Michigan and works at both the Wayne County Third Circuit Court Clinic for Child Study and Lewis & Mikkola Psychological Services, and has multiple publications about helping minority youth. She was recently hired to be part of a team through the Michigan Department of Education to educate school personnel across the state. The training is called A Silent Crisis: Creating Safe Schools for Sexual Minority Youth. Robinson is involved in many other organizations and projects as well.
Robinson has been passionate about psychology for much of her life. "I was inspired to become a psychologist at an early age when my mother was studying to become one. As she was studying for her doctorate degree, she had lots of books lying around and I got a hold to some of them. The career was a good fit. It helps me to make sense of the natural world, while spirituality helps me makes sense of the spiritual world. And I love being able to help people make sense out of their lives. It's a healing profession and I come from a long line of 'healers' in my family. My grandfather was a surgeon, my great aunt was a nurse, and my mother was a psychologist. I like the fact that I am in a humble yet powerful position to be used in service so that individuals can empower themselves to affect healthy changes in their lives.
"Psychologists play a key role in making change in this country. The best psychologists are the ones who are the most knowledgeable and compassionate about human variation and the impact of race, gender, gender identity, gender expression, attractional orientation, socioeconomic class, disability, and other social identities that are members of an oppressed and marginalized class."
Robinson noted that while the profession is evolving, not every therapist is experienced in LGBT issues. "Psychologists, like LGBTs, are a heterogeneous group and not all psychologists are therapists. My message to my fellow LGBT community members is when seeking a therapist, do some shopping and feel free to ask the therapist if they are 'gay-affirming,'" Robinson said. "You have the right to ask questions about whether they have had courses or trainings in LGBT psychology, as well as the extent of those trainings. It is not your job to 'teach' a therapist about LGBT identity. It is their responsibility to get the information they need to serve their clientele. Contacting the Michigan Psychological Association is a good first step to locating experienced clinicians."
Find out more about the Michigan Psychological Association at http://www.Mpsych.affiniscape.com.