During your internship at the Riverbend City clinic, you have been training to be alert to the impact of oppression and discrimination on mental health. Thus, you are in an excellent position not only to assess the impact of discrimination on clients but also to act as an advocate to reduce discrimination at a systems level.
During your internship at the Riverbend City clinic, you have been training
Marriage and family therapists, like other helping professionals, have an ethical responsibility to advocate for marginalized populations and contribute meaningfully to the betterment of society (AAMFT, n.d.). This often includes challenging the status quo of the field, exploring our own beliefs, and committing to this pursuit throughout one’s career and life (McGoldrick & Hardy, 2019).
Therapists must be prepared to act at the individual and systems level. Promoting social justice will require therapists to be prepared to intervene to act at the micro, meso, and macro levels, as discussed by Dr. Paylo. You may also find use in referring to the Advocacy Counseling Domains media presentation, linked in Resources) when crafting the specific appeals in your letter.
During your internship at the Riverbend City clinic, you have been training to be alert to the impact of oppression and discrimination on mental health. Thus, you are in an excellent position not only to assess the impact of discrimination on clients but also to act as an advocate to reduce discrimination at a systems level. In fact, your knowledge of the research literature, along with the first-hand experience you are building with clients, empowers you as a professional who can speak on behalf of marginalized populations.
As a marriage and family therapist and member of a professional association, you make it a point to remain aware of national and state advocacy campaigns (for example, see the AAMFT’s Federal, State and Private Payer Advocacy webpage, linked in Resources).
You notice there is an active legislative campaign to ban conversion therapy in your state. The fact that conversion therapy continues to exist is disturbing to you. Given your first-hand experience with the risks of addiction and mental health disorders faced by teens who are gay due to discrimination (see the HuffPost article or NBC Learn video, linked in Resources).
Compose a letter to a legislative member to persuade them to take a specific action on the topic of conversion therapy policy. In your letter, you should emphasize evidence and research-based reasoning to support your position. However, you should not completely disregard the use of anecdotal evidence from patients. This is to emphasize the human and emotional elements of the subject. The use of rhetoric or other persuasive writing strategies is also recommend (see the Riverbend City. Making a Case with Solid Rhetoric media piece for extra practice, linked in Resources. If you have not already worked through it).
Additionally, keep in mind that you are advocating from your role as a therapist on behalf of clients or populations you work with. While your personal feeling may or may not align specifically with the profession’s platform on the issue. It is important that you are able to differentiate between your professional responsibilities and personal views.
In your letter, make sure to address the following:
Present your ethical obligation as a marriage and family therapist to advocate for marginalized populations, and scientifically-grounded practice.
How do your professional and ethical codes guide you toward advocacy for marginalized populations and scientifically-grounded practice?
Explain the risks to the identified population for which you are seeking legislative protection.
How do these risks endanger or negatively impact individuals from this population?
Why do these risks warrant legislative protection?
Explain how therapeutic interventions grounded in best practices promote help-seeking and optimal development among individuals, couples, and families.
What are examples of systemic therapeutic interventions ground ed in best practices?
What is the evidence that these interventions promote help-seeking and optimal development among individuals, couples, and families?
How is this relevant to the population and issue you are writing about?
Advocate for specific legislative or policy action on the grounds of its benefits for a specific population.
What is the specific legislative or policy action?
What are its benefits for a specific population?
Why are these benefits worthy of the time and resources to create new legislation or policy?
What are the risks of not taking legislative or policy action?
Present an argument for an advocacy issue that is persuasive. Respectful. Finally, promotes interdisciplinary collaboration between therapists and relevant governmental offices.
Organize content so ideas flow logically with smooth transitions.
Apply the standard writing conventions for the discipline, including structure, voice, person, and tone.
Adhere to the rules of grammar, usage, and mechanics.
Support main points, assertions, arguments, conclusions, or recommendations with relevant and credible evidence.
Assess the relevance and credibility of information sources.
Apply APA style and formatting to scholarly writing.