I spent 8.5 years in Chicago, and I mostly loved every minute of it. A few of my family members lived in Chicago as well, and we had a ball when we hung out together. Even then, I used to tell them stories about the Nebulous Children that I met at my internships, or places of employment. They were just as fascinated by those stories as my co-workers, superiors, and all of you. It was/is interesting to me how people enjoy hearing these stories, but call the individuals who experience these paranormal events, "crazy," or "weird." Typically, that's the response of the general population when someone is different, and they lack understanding about that difference. More specifically, they stereotype that person.
One of the 1st lessons that I learned while growing up in psychology was to learn to remove my biases from our general population. Being a little girl who attended school all of her life in East Cleveland; that was hard, and it can still be somewhat difficult for me today. For example, it is not uncommon for me to be the person at work who is the only African-American, but also who has the highest degree. Being a Black woman at work means that when I walk into a room, others WILL automatically stereotype me. They do, and it is always unnerving to hear comments such as, "You're so well-spoken," or "You write very well." Admittedly, I am older now and those comments strike a nerve with which means that I will verbally fire off back at those types of comments. I have been known to ask, in response "Well, what did you expect since I do have a PhD?" That usually causes those same people to become startled by my response. (smile)
Why are Psychologists supposed to remove their biases prior to working with clients? We have an ethical duty to serve our chosen population without judgment. Certainly, I cannot hold onto stereotypes and negative thoughts about various populations of children if I am going to develop a healthy relationship with them. If I do not remove my own negative thoughts, then treatment will not work with them. To counter this thought process, I learned over time to remove my biases. Most of mine were created as a result of my experiences. These experiences lead me to develop "unconscious biases" toward some populations when I was younger. As I grew up in psychology, I learned to be more inclusive, accepting of a variety of cultures, and more diverse with regard to the type of children that I served. Type meaning race, religion, culture, and most importantly, symptoms.
When Nebulous Children began revealing their paranormal experiences to me in structured clinical interviews and during treatment or psychological testing, I was internally biased toward them. I believed that the children exhibited symptoms of a psychotic disorder. My attitude did not change for a long time which was not ok. Why? Because it did not allow me to engage properly with these children. Properly does not mean negatively, but it meant that I would not remove my psychological hypotheses about Nebulous Children from the category of psychotic disorders to thinking differently about how to treat them. Or, I would not diversify my thinking to include information to treat these kids "outside of the box." My implicit thoughts held me psychologically captive in treatment, and it was not until I began to notice an equal pattern of experiences within these children, (and their parents), that I began to change my own thoughts about their thought processes. It was an aha moment; as if I was a walking statistics book at that point, which lead me to keep track of their experiences in writing. It became a way to compare data which lead me to remove my implicit biases about Nebulous Children, and accept their individual differences in psychology. This was by no means easy, but what happened was that,
"I tell them."
Doctor of Philosophy
Obtaining this degree was not easy with a young baby at home. My internship experiences were harder for example, since I had to leave them in the afternoons to pick up my baby from daycare. Most of my supervisors were understanding of my childcare needs, and they knew I would make the time during the weekends or after my baby fell asleep at night. My work was always completed, and I was grateful for their understanding. This included my former advisor, and the other faculty that helped me grow up in psychology. I studied under a strong faculty and what I believed was so cool about them was the fact that they were comprised of women AND men teaching and training us. Men are a rarity in psychology, I learned later on in my career.
If you want a PhD and you are a mother, you can do it!
It was easy to talk to most of our faculty, especially Bob, my former academic advisor. I told him all about my experiences with Nebulous Children, although I did not coin this term until many years later. I also had an experience that was very negative about me, being Black and with a young child as a student. Bob was in my corner and he would go straight to the source, along with our Chair of the Department, and that person was reprimanded. He was mad many times over me, but was not having any racism toward me either. Neither was our Chair. She is still fierce. That was the first time and one of the few, where White people corrected and disciplined the behavior of another White person for their interactions with me. There would also be a second time a correction was made toward a White person by Bob and another faculty member. Then there was a third correction as well. Unfortunately, there were far more times that I can write in this blog about MY experiences with BEING corrected, as opposed to DISCIPLINE toward those who inflict the wound especially at previous places of employment. However, I always told myself that I would write my experiences while growing up in psychology, from a Black woman's perspective, one day. Well, here we are and I am loving every minute of it.
"I earned that Ph.D. in 2006"
As I grew up in psychology in Chicago, I realized that I was not meant to live in Chicago for the rest of my life. I was hired at a University in another part of Illinois, and that opened the door to brand new experiences. This was a new population of young people, with different needs, and what developed was a whole lot of "other" learning. However, they learned about me too and the one lesson they learned BY ME was,
"Do Not Threaten Me, I Will Get With YOU!"
My entire family was pissed off about this one, wait until you read about it next week.