Clapp with Jane with Jane Clapp

Decolonizing Therapy with Dr. Jennifer Mullan

March 31, 2020 janetheclapp Season 1 Episode 3
Clapp with Jane with Jane Clapp
Decolonizing Therapy with Dr. Jennifer Mullan
Show Notes Transcript

Join me for heart medicine with...

Dr. Jennifer Mullan (Pronouns: She/ Her) creates spaces for people and organizations to heal.  She believes that it is essential to create dialogue to address how mental health is deeply affected by systemic inequities and the trauma of oppression, particularly the well-being of Queer Indigenous Black Brown People of Color (QIBPOC).  

Dr. Mullan has earned her Doctorate of Psychology in Clinical Psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies; a Master’s in Counseling & Community Agencies from New York University’s Steinhardt School of Education; and her Bachelors of Arts in Psychology and Elementary Education, from New Jersey City University.  She notes that her dissertation: “Slavery and the Intergenerational Transmission of Trauma in Inner City African American Male Youth: From the Cotton Fields to the Concrete Jungle,” has been a primary foundation for her current work in furthering emotional wellness on a larger collective scale for communities of color. 

​Dr. Mullan is currently a full-time Psychologist at New Jersey City University’s Counseling Center, facilitator for the campus LGBTQIA+ Support group, Coordinator of the University’s nationally recognized Peer Education program (Peers Educating Peers), Instructor for Graduate Counselling courses, and a proud LGBTQIA+ Gothic Knight Ally Safe Zone Trainer.  

She has almost 15 years of experience in clinical practice, higher education, teaching, and grant writing.  She is passionately committed to solidarity work that effectively addresses inequities based on race, gender, class, ability, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Her professional research and clinical interests include complex and intergenerational trauma, group psychotherapy, LGBTQIA wellness, spirituality & mindfulness practices, racism as trauma, healing in therapeutic settings, self-love as a revolutionary act, and the process of decolonizing mental health. 

Social Media has been a primary platform for Dr. Mullan’s current work in politicizing therapy and emotional health on a larger collective scale, with over 53K followers on Instagram.  In 2019, she founded Decolonizing Psychology, LLC. They seek to create spaces to “call mental health professions IN” (rather than call people out).  Dr. Mullan believes it is essential to ask mental health professionals to reassess their education, “whom they are serving? “and begin to question the relatability of the mental health industrial complex to the People they serve.  It is her belief that we can tend to our emotional/ mental health AND hold systemic oppression accountable.  You can frequently hear Dr. Mullan stating, “Everything is political!”  

Dr. Mullan also centralizes Historical and Intergenerational Trauma, which she identifies as Ancestral Trauma, at the crux of decolonization work. Through the movement of Decolonizing Therapy, Dr. Mullan can be found providing international keynotes, holding Radicalizing Rage workshops, doing Coaching sessions while un-training mental health professionals, providing Ancestral healing sessions, or spending time with her Goddess cat, Isis.  



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Jane Clapp:   0:00
welcome to Clapp with Jane with Jane Clapp. I know some of the most interesting and inspiring humans that are helping to keep humanity afloat in their own unique ways, even in the middle of a crisis. I want you to meet them. Thio. Hi, everyone. Welcome to clap with Jane. I have Dr Jennifer Mullen here. Um, and she's in New Jersey, right? Yes, I am. I can't believe that I get to connect with her during this time. Because if you were looking at her face the way I am right now, home, it's just just honestly, feel this, like, hum, coming like this works come into your body. And I guess those are all my favorite people. All you have to do is look at them and you can see right into their hearts or their spirits just by looking at them. So I'm going to tell you a little bit about Dr Mullen. Her work is really important and incredible. But first, if you haven't heard of her yet, let me tell you, Dr Jennifer Melon creates spaces for people and organizations to hell pronoun she her. She believes that it is essential to create dialogue to address how mental health is deeply affected by systemic inequities and the trauma of repression, particularly the well being of queer indigenous black brown people of color. Dr. Mellon has earned her doctorate of psychology in clinical psychology from the California Institute of Interval Studies, a master's in counseling and community agencies from New York University, Steinhardt School of Education and a bachelor of arts and psychology and elementary education from New Jersey City University. She notes that her dissertation Slavery and the intergenerational transmission of Trauma of Inner City African American male use from the cotton fields to the concrete jungle has been a primary foundation for a current work and furthering emotional wellness on a larger collective scale for communities of color. Dr. Mellon is currently a full time psychologist at New Jersey City University's counseling center, facilitator for the campus. Al G B T. Q. I. A. Plus, a peer support group coordinator of the universities. Nationally recognized Pure education program. Pure educating Piers, instructor for graduate counselling courses and a proud al g B T. Q. I. A. Plus Gothic night ally. Safe Zone trainer. She has almost 15 years of experience in clinical practice higher education, teaching and grant writing. She's passionately committed to solidarity work that effectively addresses in equities based on race, gender, class ability, gender identity and sexual orientation. Her professional research and clinical interest include complex and intergenerational trauma group psychotherapy LGBT Q I A. Wellness, spirituality and mindfulness practice is racism, miss trauma, healing and therapeutic settings. Self love as a US A revolutionary act, the process of de colonizing mental health. So, Jennifer, you are working really hard right now to support folks during Cove in 19 and thank you for your energy because, um, I know you're working really hard right now. I met you when I was in New York. I think it was almost a couple years ago it was teaching that the Movement for Trauma Program and it was a big group. And there's always a couple people when I'm in the room. When I'm teaching where I'm like to stay grounded, I just know to Orient Thio certain people, and it was an intense couple days who there's a lot going on in the room on. I just remember like I could just look over at you and I'm like, OK, I'm doing OK? Because I could see your face. And I could see, you know, and I'm like, Okay, I'm on track. So So that was my first time meeting you. And here we are now.

Dr. Jennifer Mullan:   4:27
Thank you, Jean. And I like hearing. That is just because I mentioned before, but I feel like I need to say it again. Your work has been so instrumental in helping me continue to grow as a psychologist and also as a human. I'm now getting into my body is like a mandatory because I work with trauma so consistently and so often, Um, I need to take breaks. I need to move my body. Um, you just read about the pier at group? Basically, that's a really nice way and fancy way of saying, like, I work with university first generation college students that work on their ship. You know, they're willing to work on some really tough, grimy stuff like family dynamics and unconscious work and dream work. And we do retreats. And when I tell you, Jane to these students know who James Clapper is Really, they all follow you. And when I tell you about my students, we have jungle pieces anyone that all those? Jane, Hello. We know that we need a tennis ball. Play Jenga pieces. You don't have that. Then you have your arms, Ray. And then you have your your son. But you can't. You know, Orient. What does it worry? It isn't Maria. Yeah. Um, they understand, Like flipping the lid back on. You know, I've taught them and they know all of this from you because I've learned it through you. So a lot of my students who live and grew up in the inner city and still reside there, um, still use some of these, Like I hand out tennis balls and in my office like it is, can be okay. Even my colleagues would think that, you know, quote unquote there above it, I come back and I'm like, No, let's try this because so in their head. And they're so anxious. And I don't want to just say they because many, many days I could be a CZ Well, you know, progress. I'm still learning, but thank you for everything that you continue to teach me. And thank you for like being such a grounding force. Also during the cove in 19 pandemic. And throughout I did. Your bree works up, Um and, um, that was really great. It was great to dance on. And I've been trying to learn to do that after client sessions since I'm home throughout the day. So thank you. Thank you. Thank you for reminding us all to, like, be in our bodies and listen to our bodies. Um, because they'll let us know. One more thing I need to say, Hey, singing James praises. Yeah. Yeah. So grateful from what I also learned, because I did the circuit the second workshop with Jane and Toronto, um, are too. Um, one of the things that I really was always struggling with is like, Whoa, how do I listen to my body when, like, I haven't been able to trust my body throughout my life, Right. Like that has always been my my my feeling. Like what someone says, Listen to your your stomach when you're full stop eating. And I really, uh I know you're I don't know what that means or it'll kill. Tell me to keep going or whatever it is like pain doesn't stop. Many of us, like the trauma histories from like keep going because we're used to it or what have you? Conditions. But I have learned through that second training, um, how, like, small, little imperceptible shifts. What will tell me a little bit about how my party is doing, And I need to just slow down and again the orienting, or I might need to move. I wanted to pay attention. And now what I'm noticing on God, I'm using my words, not Jane's really

Jane Clapp:   8:09
my glass eye word that you Sometimes I'm just trying to find words that connects for people. So whatever language you've come, Thio means it's meaningful for you, right?

Dr. Jennifer Mullan:   8:21
True that. Sure. Yeah. But these acts, these movements have allowed me to something. Like, just yesterday I was doing things I've learned through you, and they should seem really basic, But they're not. Especially when we grew up with histories of trauma, right? And so I had client after client of client person, human after human with a whole lot of anxiety. And here I'm thinking, I'm fine. I'm fine. I'm fine. And then I just did some dancing in my rule, and I just started bawling alling, and I'm like, I don't know this is mine. I don't know if this is theirs. I don't know if it it doesn't matter, does it?

Jane Clapp:   8:58
No, it's there. If it's in your body, it's there. It's really it's like and that's the thing. That's what you're saying. I don't know if it's minor. I don't know if it's there. It's like That's the reality of what's in our body. That's the foundation of so much of your work is that there's this idea that if we're suffering, it's ours, and it's somehow we if it's ours and it's happening from inside of us. And mental health conditions are a function of something that's occurring or dysfunctional within us versus, like, just us feeling into the fucking collective suffering that is present now or has been in the history of human suffering, particular relief work, the populations that you really tried, thio, um, to serve and educates. Oh, that's like that on a microcosm. That's what you noticed in that day. But that's what's happening for so many people. And then we feel that anxiety, and we think it's my anxiety. Yeah, and there's this quote. So my daughter, I'm like, Okay, so I'm interviewing Jennifer Mullen. She's super amazing ends. I'm trying to keep her occupied. She's there. She's been politicized from a very young age. And so she put together. She went through all your stuff on Instagram, and, um, she wrote. She pulled almost two pages of quotes from you. Oh, that, she said, were absolutely amazing and powerful. She's like, I don't know what because it's all powerful. And if you don't follow Jennifer on on instagram, you have over 53,000 followers, and that's because you're saying something. That is the truth, that you have a way of condensing many complex, um, subjects, challenges, issues and problems, and you make it make sense. And this is a quote that that my daughter chase that really stuck out for her. Um, maybe even more so because of the crisis. Right now, the raging inside of you is reflective of the collective chaos outside you. Your feelings are valid.

Dr. Jennifer Mullan:   11:14
Thank you. That's I say that to myself very often for what we're talking about.

Jane Clapp:   11:21
Exactly the collective and I'm wondering if you could talk a little bit about that article in the Calgary Time Calgary Journal. I believe it was right that it feels like. Why hasn't this been published before? With the same care, sensitivity and thoroughness that that, um, that article was published with It wasn't super long, but that article went viral like it was making its way through everybody in the trauma world. And, um and that was there were some quotes in there that were really powerful. That came from you as well. And I think I was just pulling up for for us right now. We cannot separate the people and our lack of well being or dis ease, not disease. We cannot separate it from what is happening systemically. And that's sort of what you noticed in a microcosm in your body, right? You can't separate it.

Dr. Jennifer Mullan:   12:26
No, no.

Jane Clapp:   12:28
Why don't we try like why, wire? Why're people in the mental isles community still, in your opinion, unable to lift their eyes up and look around and be like this person is suffering? Not because there's a fricking biochemical issue necessarily in their brain. It could be caused by unrelenting stress and oppression. But what do you think? People are so afraid that

Dr. Jennifer Mullan:   13:01
yeah, um, I love how you said afraid because I think that humanizes right? But the fear And there's so much about my beloved field and feels. And I say I have to say that I'm a critical lover. You know, I'm not. I'm not throwing, like psychology or psycho analysis or therapy under the bus, but I just feel like when I really love something, it is my responsibility to look at it and critique it and take the parts of it that I really honor and, like, do a mashup mix and undo and be part of change for parts that are just archaic and not working anymore. And because I have always worked with people on the front line and because I was a kid growing up, who would we considered like, historically disadvantaged or oppressed? And I waas and and I could still be part of what I realized is like what does not work, and I think that oppressed populations have a bird's eye view of that. You know, I'm not that it's like, Oh, we're old, we're always right because that's such a generalization. But just more like, Hey, if I'm always in fear, I'm always fearing for my life, for I fear that I raised my hand and classes day this and everyone's in a Turner. You know, it was gonna shut down, or it's gonna put me in this kind of mode when you're used to that level of stress. I just think that those are the folks that are very like well positioned to, like listen to. So I started talking. Yeah, that makes sense. You know? You know, I started realizing what was not working, and I started having a little bit more empathy. And so the fear peace comes in, right. I started paying attention to other therapists and talking to them, my friends, my colleagues, even people that I didn't agree with necessarily. Hey, hey, don't we notice that this isn't just pathology? This isn't just an individual. And I would get shut down right off now, No way. All the time. And I still am. I still am. And I still I still do particularly like, you know, quote unquote in the real world. Like particularly off line. And when I'm sitting in these board meetings, I'm sitting with three V P's and A I don't even know they're consistent. What about love of law? Um, they kind of just look past me and look past what I'm saying. And it's just like retention, retention, retention and some of us, not just me, but also some white allies will say Yeah, but in orderto quote unquote retain you in order to bring more money to the hospital. That's what they care about what we need to do and make sure that people feel connected. That people feel well that people have resource is that students have blessed tickets. To get to class is like you gain majority of our student population, do not have laptops and do not have Internet access to do online classes. You know how, how, how how do we do modeling classes? Um, so that's the fuel. That's my fields. You know, you and I take responsibility. So I think that we were trained. I'm gonna change that. We were conditioned way. We're socialized, we have been socialized and therapists continue to be socialized to fall in line, and we don't we're not talk this. It's not obvious. It's not like, hey, work for us, work for big business and don't care about the students or the people or the clients or what have you We think we're going into this with open hearts, open minds, wanting to help and serve, which is why I have so much compassion where other people in my field. But we are consistently socialized, like the West rest of the world, is wake up and start educating and un educating. Russell's um, we're socialized to think that, you know, mental illness is an illness. You know, this very medical model and that people are quote unquote problems or part of the problem and that we just need to shift our thinking in our perspective. Um, say some affirmations and I love affirmations. E. I have a bunch of them on my wall everywhere, but just this is going to be enough. You know, self care is going to be enough. And the reality is no

Jane Clapp:   17:11
way. Think of mental illness for basically like de colonizing Therapy is about looking at Ah, a lot of mental health struggles is as injuries, injuries to course else, um, but they it's not a disease. It's actually a habitual harm done to somebody starts to pile up in a way that that creates an epigenetic expression of potential underlying illness or just over time that acute stress over a certain period of time wears down, are our mental and physical resources and leaves people heavily injured. Yes, and I don't think that I think we think of that only applies to people with acute trauma histories. Or but the way that people defined trauma does not include, um, oppression. And I don't get that. And I feel like this is what pisses me off sometimes is the idea that to be a good therapist, our analyst or counselor that you have to be a political. You cannot let your politics expose themselves to your clients. And I have a bit of an issue with that because I think that's what you came across, you know, in terms of funding. And I'm keeping retention and, like, I do not sink. And you've said this before that you can work in mental health and and not be political.

Dr. Jennifer Mullan:   18:50
Absolutely, absolutely. People are literally dying in front of us all the time. And if your therapist right, we know where any kind of healer bodywork or social worker we we're seeing past, just like how someone's putting it together, right? We can see we can see and feel that that the trauma, like eating away at a person, their fear, their overwhelm and for knee sitting in a room and acting like this blanks Lee and I can see where that can come in handy. I don't want to say that I think there's room for everything you know, for all different kinds of theories. But for me and the people that I have come across and I serve, um, including some of our white brothers and sisters just acting like I'm this sort of non sexual, non political right like this, making like a Barbie doll with the mound like there's nothing, you know, like I'm not my gender identity that I'm not any of like. I don't have any feelings. I'm just gonna have a white room and I'll let you like. That's like project what you want and that can be helpful if you're doing psychoanalysis and not sure thinks great, you know. But if people were not purposely going to therapy for that on there going because they feel like they're emotionally dying, or that they can't handle it anymore, that they're having panic attacks every day or they're self injuring themselves or they just been assaulted, which is like my normal day hearing that all day. And I feel like people deserve to know who is giving them feedback and who is holding space for them and who was holding a mirror up to them. Mom. And so I've been educating some of my people that I serve on that especially people right at or below the poverty line, because I think that what happens is there's this belief that people that are quote unquote air quotes like, you know, poor you or resource is our poor also an education or wisdom, and we know that that's not true. That's not even true in terms of resource is like some of the hardest working people I've ever met in my life, our quote unquote poor right? You know, they're they're working 345 jobs and they're still not making the living wage. You know, minimum wage might be this but the living wage for them and two Children maybe $34 an hour in New York City, or maybe $40 how can they make that? It's near impossible. So I feel like part of our jobs as therapist, says psychologists, social workers, body workers is to also arm very, very purposely arm our people that we're serving in working with also, with the skills to advocate for themselves, the skills to say, Hey, wait a minute, you know, learn howto appropriately argue and take issue with something happened at their child's school, which is a big issue all the time with parents, right when their child is being discriminated against or given all these labels, Is there black or brown child? Um so, yeah, for me, Jane, I think that part of what our duties are or two comments full people to the people that were serving in perfect. I say that all the time and allowing for the people that we serve to be able to work out some conflict resolution with us, you know? And if it's okay, I'm actually gonna share something that happened a few months ago with somebody that I'm working with, um, a coaching client through de colonizing therapy. And she was stressed, saying how she didn't feel like our work was insistent enough, and but I wasn't able to like, kind of be there in the way that she needed and going into it, right? I'm thinking all my ego shit is up, right?

Jane Clapp:   22:30
Ee? Oh, yeah, Totally,

Dr. Jennifer Mullan:   22:33
Ray, always. But I don't have to get into all of that. But you're just like is it like, even like this isn't really all on me that it is like although some of that may be true, there was a part of me that was also like, Hey, I hear when she's saying to and wow, I've been ableto create a container with her where she feels safe enough to send me this letter rather than Oh, this is And it could be some projecting I'm not saying it's not at all, but this is on Lee projecting she's resistant to treatment. See that? Like you. You, You, you you You're the problem rather than what does this bring up in me? Let me look at my shit first. Like what does this bring up? I mean oh, my good little girl doesn't like it. She wants to be loved by everybody. Great. Um Oh, wait a minute. Um, already want to move on with her? Maybe this isn't This is the kind of kind of person I want to work with. Let me check myself. Let me and let me look at both of us and how both of us are being called. A nice to think this is what therapy should look like. That's what's happening thinking because I'm being human and saying, Hey, I'm still in traffic. I can't make it. You know, I can't afford an office right now. I don't have an office. So we're doing Zoom all the time and it when we were able to have that conversation in a very gentle way. And of course, therapeutically, Mom, both of us just ended up crying. You know, both of us ended up tearing. Both of us ended up having just deep love going back and forth. Oh, wait a minute. Oh, my gosh. On the other, therapists have been white. It have had a very like, structured, almost rigid frame, huh? You are bringing so much of letting me know what's happening or why things are working or they are too. Did it like you're telling me this? I'm not used to be included in this because this isn't what my parents did, you know? And this isn't what my past therapist did. And I stepped back and I asked her, Well, how does that feel for you? Just like liberating and scariest fucking I was like, Okay, I'm on the right way. Maybe we're doing something right, because, I mean, we'd be colonising or politicizing therapy. You know, the systemic whiteness, right? The system always has me thinking I'm wrong. Always

Jane Clapp:   24:47
you. So you learn to question yourself first. Like, what am I doing wrong? If this if this isn't working, what do I need to fix about myself? And now you're trying Now you're like you can take a look up and be like this in showing up because it's part of the collective Hi. Yeah. Showing up in this room with this person in this moment because we're living with the impact of the ideas are ideals of how we think we should be recovering. How we think we should be feeling better, like, sort of the whole 10 session cpt model, right? Right. Like after 10 sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy, you should be on your way on your way to being a productive human being again.

Dr. Jennifer Mullan:   25:35
Absolutely. Yeah. And the pressure that puts on people too, right? Like I'm sure it's session Eat. What if I still want to work with this therapist or this healer? Oh, shit. I should be better. I should be further along. And, um, for me, C b e Although I still sometimes use it. Sometimes I'm talking about a white or a black and white thinking magnification, like all the time. I feel like traditional therapy as it stands in my humble professional and personal opinion as somebody who's been in therapy for, like, probably 25 years of my life, literally, literally different kinds of therapies. Um, I can honestly say that I feel like it's agreed Foundation, right? Like traditional therapy, I think could be a great foundation. And I would not be where I am today, nor would be colonizing therapy would be where it is today if I didn't really understand. My theory's pretty well and know how to apply them and know how to navigate with people in front of me. You know, no one. The trauma is so compounded and so *** and so choking and taking up all the air out of the room that it quote unquote feels like a personality disorder. Uh, okay. Okay. then I'm not gonna show as much of myself right away. Okay? Then I'm gonna move in this way and allow that person expose more of themselves to me, so they feel safe. Okay. You know, like, I do think it's important. And I need to say this that, um the therapists, body workers that we that we do understand and respect on the brain, You know that we do understand the biggest nerve, how it's all connected. I do think it's so important that we understand these connections and the same attention and focus we pay to what's inside, you know, like the brain and the body. There needs to be the same exact, if not maybe a bit more focus on what is happening on a micro level externally around us, you know? So, um, and I think I may have learned, like some a lot of this from you, in a sense of how are we going to stabilize a person when they're still in the same place? And it's still receiving the same amount of trauma. They're gonna come to me. They're gonna feel a little better. They're gonna be vulnerable and exposed. But I'm sending them right back out there. And they may be dealing with the fact that okay, and maybe I'm gonna get shot when I walk out the door. Maybe when I go to pick up my child, I'm going to get hit by my ex partner. They'll be at the school as well, like so I hear that my clients say this on a daily basis. They may not use the word that many of us use, you know, But I hear them all the time saying like, Okay, well, Jen or Dr Morland, whatever they decide to call me, you know, you're telling me to do a B, C and D, But I'm still gonna go back in the home with the abuser, you know, and I think that part of the work is not just be like, Well, then leave the abuser leave. You do that. I mean, clearly, that's part of the work. But, you know, how do we get the person to a place where they feel like the abuser is no longer internalized either, Uh And then

Jane Clapp:   28:29
also restoring agency? It's right. It's although someone decides to stay in whatever situation there in like that's there for exercising of free will doesn't mean that they aren't getting better because they're choosing. There's so many different reasons. Why people, I need to choose a certain type of suffering.

Dr. Jennifer Mullan:   28:51
Yes, Nesting. Yes, right? Yes. Yes.

Jane Clapp:   28:55
Now, do you remember the moment when you realize that? But you have reached the end of more traditional therapies being enough to really? Because you are so alive. You're so full of life. You have so much, um I don't want to sound cheesy, but light and energy and power in you And I'm sure that it was hard earned a lot of hard work. Do you remember the moment where you're like Fuck this? This isn't enough. I've reached the end of this. This the way you're living wasn't enough. And that type of therapy were doing was only gonna take you so far.

Dr. Jennifer Mullan:   29:34
Yes, I do. I remember it very clearly. And what a beautiful question. Um, it's that I could feel me shift in a good way. No, no, no. This is I love. I love talking about it, but I think it's so important. Um, so at that time, So it was a clusterfuck. I love that word. it sounds clusterfuck. It was like all these situations. Um, and I honestly truly feel that it was like my guides, my ancestors, people that came before me, all funneling and saying here, we're gonna make this so fucking uncomfortable, so unbearable that you're gonna have no choice but to look up and be like, Oh, you know, we're gonna make this so fucking uncomfortable and put so much pressure on you, but you're gonna realize the very crap that you've been in a sock crap. But the very shit that you've been like learning about and de colonizing your brain about all these undoing racism, trainings and all these LGBT youth what training is like cause I would sit there like this is good, but this is all missing something. This is good, but this is that everybody felt like that. Maybe they do. But I was just like, this is good. Okay, learning this and I felt hungry, hungry, hungry, And I was doing all this stuff and there was this deep emptiness still inside, right? And I remember going thio at all of this is happening right? The storm is brewing in, the storm is brewing and um I was just getting sicker and sicker and sicker, like, physically pick on, um, working with therapists What had, for, like, 10 plus years. And she also, um, step outside of the normal frame. You know what? I'm not gonna name her because I don't want to put her in. And that's that. The thing, the fear always being in trouble, right? Right. Mom, she was outside of the frame, and she was more like a spiritual teacher. In many, many ways. I love her very much, even though our time together is over at this point. For 10 years, she was my rock, and I remember going in and she looked at me and she goes, um, because she had that report with me. She's like, you look like the walking dead. You like a zombie. Do you feel like one energetically to me And I was like, I have nothing left. I have nothing left. I'm so tired. And one of my students had just been shot in a sense, So that particular day I had a student call me from the e R thing. I'm literally waiting. They haven't seen me for an hour and 1/2 Dr Mullen, but I didn't want to lose my slot. It makes me choke up. Just thinking, thinking about it. Um, I don't want to lose my spot with you, right. And they're in the air bleeding a normal gun taking dominantly block area, right? They're like, Okay, whatever. You know what Onda student is like, Please, please, please. I know I was sick last week. I'm in the hospital now. I'll get a nurse to get on the phone, just so you know that I'm not lying. And I'm thinking this is what our fucking system has done to our people. To think that, like if you miss two sessions your fucking done right? Like a So I'm sitting, I'm chewing on this and I'm like, my dear, don't you worry about it. You need me to go to the hospital on. My boss is looking at me like you can go to the hospital. That's not appropriate. You have eight other clients. That's a moment I'm like, Don't fuck like this is a human. This is a human that's afraid of losing the recession. They're in a traumatic response. They're probably this like, fighter flight. This is how they hold it down. Right? And I'm just thinking of myself. They need another human and the cool you there with. Oh, my sister is gonna come after work, but if she leaves now, she's gonna lose her job like you.

Jane Clapp:   33:15
All right. God. Oh, my God.

Dr. Jennifer Mullan:   33:18
Yes, Jane, Like all these layers. And I'm holding all of this. And I had other sessions. Very, very heavy situations. Another young woman that just came in literally. This is all one day, and this is this is that moment. So when I got into that therapy session as the walking dead, I just finished dealing with that. Actually, the student was like, Please don't come. Please don't come. I don't want you to see me like this. Oh, I'm thinking, you know. So I did what I could over the phone. Has to speak to owners. Of course, I used my doctor status. I don't feel bad about it. I have to admit, but I was a little more aggressive. A little bit of my rage came out, and I said, If you don't bring that 19 year old baby a child in there in the next 10 minutes, we're calling like OSHA or something. I lost it. I was, like, totally like a guest. Yes. Yes, Doctor. Yes, Doctor. Right now, like the child has been bleeding out again, I just feel like black and brown Children are not also humanized and like it when their kids even 18 90. Come on. There's still I was 18 19 at a curfew. Like like you're my baby. I don't care. I'm still my mom's baby. But I say this to say, like they're not seen his Children, They're saying is like adults and, like, you know, like you're grown or you're problematic. Or what did you do to get shot? What have you, um, So that plus a young woman trigger warning That was, um, very brutally assaulted. Came into my office and the dorm and three other people that had no food to eat. I had to bring them down to the pantry like it was one of those fucking days.

Jane Clapp:   34:50
You know, one day,

Dr. Jennifer Mullan:   34:52
one day, and I probably I had hundreds of these. Like that. Is it? I work in a university counselling center. So this is it even community mental health. Although it is because we're there. First connection. Most of them are like therapy. What? I'm not going to therapy. I think that's the people I work with. Like therapy doesn't work for me when my mom finds out. What if my mosque sounds? I What if killed? You know. So I got in my therapist's office, and I'm just looking at her, and I can't even cry like I want to, but I don't. You know, like that feeling

Jane Clapp:   35:23
You're, like, a little numb. You're like, it's just too much. It's too much. You shut off? Yes. Oh, yeah. You can't feel one more

Dr. Jennifer Mullan:   35:30
thing. Not one more. And I'm kind of I think I'm sitting there kind of feel like I was floating. I laugh because of picking back, and I'm like, I've gotten very close to these moments, even as close as like, last month, You know, I get close to it again, and then I'm like, nope, nope. The system is wearing me down. Nope. I'm not gonna work this hard. I'm taking two days off mental, healthy? No, Like, you know, I get close to it, and, um, she says to me If something doesn't change, you know, you're gonna not be alive much longer. Just study very bluntly and lovingly and just like, um, I said, Yeah, yeah, And she says, What are you here, boy here to do? That's what we're kind of talking about. I kept saying, I feel like I'm supposed to birth something and I feel like it's stuck in my fucking badge And that's what it felt like with my dissertation. I would always feel like just like I wanted out. It feels like a good I've never, you know, burst the physical child. But I imagine that's what it feels like. A lot more people. But, um so And what's that we've been working on? I said, I can't keep doing this. I can't keep doing a 9 to 5. I can't keep doing therapy. Also, that doesn't see the whole person like I can't keep just listening to old advisors and literally said to me, Hey, therapy does not mix with politics. Stop it, Stop it literally.

Jane Clapp:   36:57
I can't. I can't,

Dr. Jennifer Mullan:   36:59
um, literally. And this isn't like a very progressive California in a school that were everyone's meditating and using chimes and doing yoga and class. But yet they're like stop mixing politics and therapy. Gents, I was gonna conditioned trains. I was getting all of us conditioned. This is what I do in my free time. I'm an organizer. My job is I'm a psychologist, and this is what I do. Oh, just just wrap this up. I'm in this office and she just looked at me. She said, Close your eyes. And at that moment, I'm like, I don't know if I can. She was OK, even look down. You know, even with her, after 10 years, I was like, I can't close my eyes right now. I feel like someone's gonna attack me, or I'm gonna attack somebody bully. Shouldn't you know, um, and she goes, I want you to just close your eyes. And she asked me what kind of work I would be doing, what kind of what kind of therapy I would be doing. And I was like, It wouldn't even be therapy. And she's like, Okay, tell me about it. It would contain the whole human. They would they would have pieces of somatic sand pieces of psycho drama and piece of, you know, um no, All the all this stuff is coming. I don't even remember half of it literally. But afterwards she tells me this is what happened. Could literally I probably like. I dissociated on some level and she's saying, um, what do the people need? What? What are people begging you to bring Jennifer? I think it's like time. And at that point, then I start sobbing and I was like, I need to create liberating spaces where therapists are humanized, where college colonization is more than just a metaphor where we realize that interest psychically know biologically socially that we have absorbed so much of the pain and the joy. Mom and the wisdom lover ancestors, medics, like men are like is literally shifted. Our DNA is literally on, and I want to create something where, like emotional dis ease and environmental stressors like Martin, I'm buying that. We're actually seeing the impact of oppression on our bodies and systems where I don't have to fight to prove that this is what's happening to people. Yeah, and then just be some of the great questions I don't remember. And when I finally opened my eyes, my crying was that of like, I felt like I went through this like birthing process e make some energetic part of me died, and I was like, That's it. Like I'm never, ever claims already already. Do the work I do with the university. It just behind closed doors. You know, like my students know me on some level. I mean, they don't know everything about everything. If it's appropriate. Yeah, they know I'm divorced. Yeah, they know that I have a strong the history. They may not know the details, but you can identify. Yeah, I've gone through some very heavy things. I feel you. So I just decided to no longer live on again. I just want to say it is a process, and some days I still very much em back into those places. What? That moment, I thought I don't have to do it this way anymore, you know? And I thought little young jenny, you know, thought that getting a doctor, it was going to free me be oppression and being treated a certain way. And the pain and the heaviness, like I really did think that I got a doctor because I was good at school, but also because some part of me thought like when I'm a doctor. It won't feel like this. You know, Everything I say won't be questioned anymore. Why won't be overlooked or skipped over in class and have away woman say the same exact thing. I said maybe a little bit more succinctly, and it be heard rather than me being heard. Um, so in that moment, I just realized that I was on the verge of a miracle and that, um you know which to me is a shift in perspective. I'm a student, of course. A miracle. So amazing. You know, a shift in perspective, which is like, Oh, my gosh, I can choose to see this differently. You know, I could I can choose to bring the beautiful parts of therapy that allow people to be messy and energetically bloody in front of us and connect that with how this has occurred throughout our lineage in our times how it's still occurs now, how is Riel? But it's not made up. It hurts just as bad. And those invisible wounds are just a throbbing and bleeding out. Um, and I want to normalize mental health, you know? And all of it, you know, and I want to bring in our ancestral piece and that intergenerational trauma is ancestral trauma. And we can go back to our wisdom and their ancestors had something right. We need to rest a little bit more way Need Thio make space for those that do not have. And so, yeah, I want I want to say that I walked out of there, had the best day ever after that.

Jane Clapp:   41:52
But that time is that moment when you're like, I am not voluntarily participating in a system that does not see the whole person. And you know that worked by the phrase bio psychosocial blends gets thrown around a lot. But, you know, I was in a class with a psychiatrist recently and he was teaching about schizophrenia. Andi, he was talking about the ideology of schizophrenia and I said, Okay, well, I have a question because we had a moment for questions. I'm like y our African Americans five times more likely to get diagnosed with schizophrenia. And he's like, I've never read that. Like what? Like well, yeah, and he's like, now the Hotel Agios It's brilliant, isn't say that it's not dependent on race. I'm like, Okay, and at that moment I'm like, Do I keep talking because he's not usually a kind man? Yes, yes. Hey does good work. He likely has stabilized. The lives is in his work. But there's this, like block to people wanting to see that, like mental health, is not just a brain disease like it is a disease of culture and society that is often created unnecessarily Bye. People living unconsciously or cruelly.

Dr. Jennifer Mullan:   43:23
Yes, absolutely, miss, but I'm feeling really pulled. Said yes, yes, yes. Um, and I and I just got this sense is deep feeling that it's important to also say, um when you asked before, like y our therapist or mental health professionals sort of like, What's that block with that fear of moving in this way? I think it's also again the fear collectively to really acknowledge, um, and deal with some of the guilt and the shame that, you know, um, many people don't want to look at, you know, And I want to say that it's not just one people, right? You know, it's also people of color that are very much I'm conditioned by the system like we don't want to get uncomfortable, you know, like none of it. Most people don't you know, But I think it's like the people at the bottom, the people that are poor, they're migrants indigenous, black and brown. Many not all are so used to being uncomfortable that it's like It's so I hear it's all the time with my clients to even now, during the time of the Corona. Um many, Many of my clients are like, Yeah, it's stressful. But how much more stressful that we're used to? This place is I've been locked up. I'm locked up in my house like and I'm just like in my response is that shit is room? Yep. It is, uh, like like like Okay, you know, And so that's the thing is like, I think that were so uncomfortable. So many of us collectively talking about, like, systemic racism and slavery. And you know what has been done to first Nations and indigenous folks. And we talk about it, but in these little pockets, and we're like, Okay, this is contained. This is a workshop. I'm not gonna be like, kind of called in. And I don't really believe in calling out. I believe in calling in where we're like, Let's have a conversation about this, and this is how it made me feel, you know, and I think that dealing with the guilt and the shame for many people that identify as way like it's so like it's so big. And I could tell it sometime that some of my clients where I'm like I can feel like where this is really uncomfortable. But I think that this is like where we need to go, you know, in order for you to not hold this anxiety, we dive into it slowly, lovingly, you know, Can you then realize on the way out

Jane Clapp:   45:42
it might actually

Dr. Jennifer Mullan:   45:43
give you so much space that we every I'm talking some of this anxiety and usually they want to. But it's like not knowing how to, you know, and me realizing that I always don't want to lead every white person through that path either. You know, like like I have a person of color. Sometimes I need to, like, pull back, but yeah, I don't know. This is making sense.

Jane Clapp:   46:02
It reminds me of that thing I was asking you about before we hit record. And that was the, uh, Canadians, some in Canada people don't know, but I like to think we're less racist. So we're less racist culture or society than the US on, and it's it's pretty funny. I like to think that we're doing so much better than the US We're gonna Zakes that way. But you were appear and Canada's speaking in a town called Peterborough. Yes, hum. And you were also in Toronto. And I mean, what did you do If you don't mind me asking, What was it like to be walking around a small town in Canada

Dr. Jennifer Mullan:   46:50
to keep it? Really? Although my host were so gracious and so kind and it was a university campus and I felt really comfortable on the university campus, I felt so not comfortable in Peterborough. Um, even Ah, the wonderful I can think of the word I want to use that. The person driving the van from the airport beautiful remind you it was at 9 30 at night. It's starting to snow. I'm like, Oh my gosh, there's no lights on the road like we clearly past the Toronto City limit. He's like just being him and his big man, and he's like, What are you going to Peterborough. Well, to speak, not thinking, you know, like you, you know, to do speaking gig. You know, when your keynote above, above a lot, Um, and the indigenous student group there, as well as the African students ization invited me out and he's like, Okay, he says, you know, we don't really have, like, racist people the way you all do in America.

Jane Clapp:   47:50
He did not see that he did not,

Dr. Jennifer Mullan:   47:54
You know, at any of the older gentleman, the same thing I wasn't gonna. But leaving may I was like, I don't know if that's no, you're like, you know, there's different forms that it takes on, and he's like, uh huh, yeah, yeah. You know, while I was there, um, I had a really lovely little room overlooking this, like, leak there, and it was, like snowing. So it was really, really lovely to look at. And I appreciate it all the scenery. But when I walk to the grocery store into the downtown area of every body was staring at me and I know that I'm a tall woman, and I know I think everybody was staring at me. Okay. Wow, this is really awkward in this one woman on this is way before the coded 19 was, like, literally keep stepping back and grabbing her

Jane Clapp:   48:43
purse. Did not. I know I can completely see that happening. And yes, the fact that your driver said we don't have

Dr. Jennifer Mullan:   48:54
can't make it up.

Jane Clapp:   48:55
I can't believe it. And literally within 24 hours, you're like,

Dr. Jennifer Mullan:   49:01
Yeah, yeah. And I thought to myself, Well, ah, this is good for me to experience, and this is must be with some of the students that are bringing me out. This is the reason I'm bringing me out, you know? And if I experienced this for two days, this is what they're experiencing all the time. Even if the university seemed comfortable quote unquote, I could imagine all the underlying shit that they probably had to deal where I look over and overt racism, you know, even from their own classmates. I came to hear, hear about and understand more. But although I do I love Canada and the parts that I've been I probably wouldn't go back to that little looking on e, but I do like I do like Toronto a lot. I do like Toronto a lot from the bits. But, um, I've really only gone for your workshop, and I haven't been like they're longer periods of time.

Jane Clapp:   49:57
Yes, it's all over the place. Well, you know, I'm tryingto but I like my little pocket with, you know, I'm thinking and feeling like we need to find a way. Thio leave people, um, with something in the middle of all this mess and suffering in crisis. Um, is there one thing that what's happening right now, um, like, makes you realize about yourself and your strength like that? You that you have in you, Given everything you've been through, given all the years of therapy have done to be where you are right now. Like, are you being brought into deeper awareness of something about yourself that you're like a bank? Goodness, I have this in me so it could be with me right now through this time.

Dr. Jennifer Mullan:   50:51
Yeah, Um, another beautiful question. There's a few. So I'm gonna I would say one of the top things is during this time, I'm really, really grateful that I've learned how to be alone. E I know that sounds really may be silly. Um um I think the way them. My trauma history went down like being around people was always a way to not have to, like, slow down and not have tohave like the ship comma. Um and so for me, it had been a bit of a journey. I think that I'm the label, you know, like co dependency was just the way that I grew up. You know, witness my mother and father, That's who they are, you know, And I was in an 18 year marriage. And so I think stepping out of that a couple of years back and really going on the journey of learning to be with self, you know, um not lonely, but alone, you know, and being able to stand all of the stuff in me I don't always like, I think a lot of us have that about ourselves, but also being alone as a woman of color as a sex gender, black Afro Latina, You know that that really would sometimes feel like scared for my life alone, you know, also, you know as ah you know, a cyst under you know, fam woman I would often times feel very like scared, you know, like I don't wanna walk down certain blocks and I live in a city and so on and so forth. And I remember the first month after my my separation and having this please and that being by myself, I would check every closet not embarrassed to say it, because I think it's helpful, for people are and look underneath my coats in the back would triple check and I'm on the third floor like I renovated. Attic comes late, But still, you know, like I would make sure the windows were closed like there would be this. And I'm like, Oh my gosh, I worked on this for so long. Why is this shit up again? You know, But I I need to learn how to feel safe. And do I feel safe in my own body? You know? Do I feel safe? Do I trust myself to give myself what I need when I need it, Mom. So I don't know if that's too

Jane Clapp:   53:20
no, that's great.

Dr. Jennifer Mullan:   53:22
But for me learning how to to be alone and to slow down and not be so busy all the time, and I think that some of your work and your workshops have helped me with that, um, other people online and other, like the nap ministry. I remember when they were, like, 3 300 followers that I've learned so much about the importance of, um particularly black folks slowing down, you know, particularly people of color. People that have historically, like the United States have been built on our backs. You know, very little resource is, and finances and land passed down to us how important it is for us to sit and rest. And that resting doesn't mean that we're lazy or good for nothing, or that, you know, we have lineages and lifetimes of our ancestors working to the bone, the bone. I just feel like ancestral. An inter generationally that's been downloaded onto me too. You know,

Jane Clapp:   54:20
my cell that re occupying your body is one of the is a political act.

Dr. Jennifer Mullan:   54:26
Yeah, I love that. All

Jane Clapp:   54:28
right, look really re occupying your body. And if you've been whatever ways possible, like actually being like, this is my life, my body and this is I'm going thio kind of decide what had taken.

Dr. Jennifer Mullan:   54:42
Look who

Jane Clapp:   54:43
l what? I digest what I accept in whatever ways accessible for people. You know. I hear that. I see that in your work and in every cell of your body. And I could just listen to you talk all day. I end on a light note. Nasty. What, are you listening Thio Today or this week?

Dr. Jennifer Mullan:   55:04
Oh, you mean like a music or punk ass? Are you okay? So, actually, I'm gonna pull up my Spotify and not cheat and certainly what I've last listening to Um Oh, my God. Mine D e m o girl. Here, I got you a whole you know, Courtney Love.

Jane Clapp:   55:23
Yeah, I I I know courtly love

Dr. Jennifer Mullan:   55:27
listening to some a hole. I really love that whole like Malibu album. Yeah, though I was listening to, like, a lot of nineties Matchbox 20. And the other thing I was listening to you it was juvenile back that ass up

Jane Clapp:   55:42
sweet. So put that song on. Now it's enough. I just

Dr. Jennifer Mullan:   55:48
feel like it's so good. Like everybody just wants to move to a even if it's without rhythm. Mitchell did. Yeah.

Jane Clapp:   55:54
You're amazing. Thank you so much for your time. And every time during this crisis I get to connect with a really good human. I'm like it's gonna be all right and whatever. Wait ends up. I'm like, when there's people like you on the planet, um, you just make me feel like it's gonna be all right On some level, you know, you're you're amazing. Thank you.

Dr. Jennifer Mullan:   56:22
Thank you, Jean. Thank you for having me. Thank you for doing the podcast. Your voice is so important. And I think all the people that you're gonna pull on, I just can't wait to dive in. So thank you. Drinkin for being alive and being such a dope. Amazing.

Jane Clapp:   56:34
Thank you so much. Thank you so much to Jennifer Mullen for her heart medicine during this crisis. And thank you so much to Jennifer Snowden, my first patron on Patria. Thank you so much for supporting this podcast. If you feel inspired to support my podcast, visit my patriot gauge. The link is in the show notes or search me underpants. Patron Jane Club back with Jane, 30%. Your proceeds will be going to MSF. Doctors Without Borders