Janet Helm’s Transcript

Respond to the following questions (separately,) Based on Janet Helmss explanation in the Microtraining Associates video/ transcript. Transcript provided

1. Janet Helmss explanation of how identity, privilege, power, and oppression influence professional practice based on the Microtraining transcript.

2. Then explain the challenges that identity, privilege, power, and oppression might present in a therapy session between a client and a therapist from different cultural backgrounds.

Janet Helm’s Transcript


            Professional Practice has always been influenced by identity, privilege, power and also oppression. The identity of an individual exposes them to risk of being oppressed or to the advantage of or privilege of power. This paper examines Janet Helm’s Transcript of what happens in both cases.

How identity, privilege, power, and
oppression influence professional practice based on the Micro training

            The identity of an individual puts one at risk of being oppressed by others in the society. The common factor is the race of an individual. According to Helms, most people mistake race for a biological construct. They think that the skin color of an individual equals their race. Unfortunately this is not the case since science has proven that a person with no African ancestry may as well be black just as a person with African ancestry may be white (Helms, n.d). This affects professional practice since the skin color is usually associated with behavior. From the transcript, Helms states that Black people are often associated with bad behavior while white people are associated with good behavior (Helms, n.d). This is a very wrong approach as not all black people are African just as not all are criminals.

            The race is also what affects a person’s privilege which also influences professional practice. People are usually categorized with how they look either black or white. The people from these two categories are not treated equally (Helms, n.d). They are usually treated in such a way that the whites are given advantage over the blacks. Whites are normally considered as superiors while blacks are considered to be inferior.

            The whites are given the power while the blacks are oppressed. Social class is what most people like to talk about since it is a pyramid whereby whites are at the top while blacks right at the bottom. These factors influence professional practice since the result will not be based on professionalism but rather on skin color.

The Challenges that Identity, Privilege, Power, and Oppression Might Present in Therapy Session between a Client and a Therapist from Different Cultural Backgrounds

            When a client and therapist with different cultural backgrounds are involved in a therapy session, some challenges may be faced. There may be a few misunderstandings may result to conflict or even the client refusing to open up. The oppression which black people face each and every day has resulted to a certain generalized feeling whereby the blacks feel like all the whites are privileged and possess more power that they do (Helms, n.d). As a result, a patient may be choosy when it comes to a therapist. This is because they do not have that feeling of trust towards the white therapist. The color of the therapist gives the patient an impression that they will get oppressed during the session because of their skin color. Some of the questions asked by the therapist may be misunderstood by the patient who may think that the therapist is trying to insinuate something. This is where conflict may result.

            On the other hand, if the therapist is black and the patient is white, the concerns become different. Here, the patient will feel like the therapist does not have enough privilege to be able to help in their situation (Helms, n.d). When the therapist is under looked by the patient, tension seems to arise and the session may end up being harmful rather than helpful.


            For a professional practice to be considered professional, the race of an individual must be ignored completely. The appearance of someone should never be used since it only leads to categories which in turn influence how we treat someone in ways which go hand in hand with our stereotype of what they are.


Helms, J. E. (n.d). “A Race is a Nice Thing to Have”. Interview by Allen E. Ivey.