The first learning hour of the Student/Early Career Committee was hosted by Stephanie Mihalas in conjunction with guest speaker, Ms. Carolyn Cowl-Witherspoon on Friday, February 12, 2016.
Ms. Cowl-Witherspoon is a graduate student in general psychology at Walden University. Ms. Cowl-Witherspoon’s areas of academic focus are religious privilege, anti-Semitism, microaggressions, bullying, multiculturalism, ethics, and social justice. Some of her long-range goals include assisting others, through compassionate and pro-social education and representation, in recognizing the negative consequences which may result from the systemic religious subordination or derogation of minority religions, spirituality, and nonreligious beliefs, as well as the unintentional marginalization of their cultural ideologies and practices.


With the current emphasis on the integration of religion and spirituality into therapeutic and educational encounters, how do clinicians and educators ethically and appropriately create a safe space through which clients, students, and clinicians can explore religion, spirituality, and nonreligious belief without allowing religious privilege or unrecognized bias and prejudice to taint the experience?  America is dominated by Christian privilege, which impacts many levels of daily life, continually broadcasting and reinforcing an ethnocentric view of Christianity as the religious norm. This domination through religious privilege frequently results in the unintentional oppression or marginalization of non-Christian religions, alternate expressions of spirituality, and nonreligious beliefs.  Even among Christian-based religions there exists a perceived privilege hierarchy which may result in the subordination of one set of Christian beliefs to another.  Without sanctioned, research-based religious, spiritual, and nonreligious clinical competencies or any formal religious or spiritual specialization guidelines within the profession, the immediate challenge is for all students, clinicians and educators is to maintain an accurate awareness of their own levels of bias and prejudice.   Only through an accurate and unflinching awareness of our own religious biases and prejudices will we be able to ethically and appropriately manage the complexities of integrating the wide diversity of beliefs which exists in religious, spiritual, and nonreligious beliefs into any therapeutic or educational encounter.
Click the audio play to listen to the recording from this event.

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There is no CE associated with these programs.