Resisting oppression and accessing wellness: Counselling and activism as interrelated avenues to dignity and healing
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The intention behind this thesis project is to explore the value of mechanisms that both tend to individuals’ mental wellness and simultaneously act in resistance to forces of systemic oppression — interpreting oppression through the Freire (2018) lens, as a force that serves to dehumanize all people by pitting oppressors and the oppressed against each other, stripping all individuals of their agency and liberation (Freire, 2018). This project sets out to explore how counsellors can resist oppression through the therapeutic mechanisms they choose to employ as well as how activism can serve as a mechanism of therapy and resistance enacted. With a feminist/social-justice centred foundation, this project aims for praxical engagement through which theories can be enacted, questioned, and adapted in order to transcend “existing notions of what is possible” (Dutt & Grabe, 2014, p. 113). This project begins by contextualizing the central question and situating the author, expanding on the personal values and theoretical frameworks that inform this work. Following this, I explore how aspects of counselling work can qualify as strategic resistance to oppression, focusing on the development of bilingual counselling services and exploring how this type of accessibility is needed if we are centering social justice in our counselling work. Alternatively, I explore examples of direct action activism and identify how this work can qualify as therapeutic at both the individual and community level. To conclude, the final chapter includes a summary of the connections drawn between healing work and resisting systemic oppression as well as highlight some of the places researchers, counselling practitioners, and anyone adopting an anti-oppressive stance, may want to turn their attention to in the future.