Courtney Watson, LMFT- Osmind AMA Recap

Sarai Thach
Jul 21, 2020 · 4 min read
(Image: Courtney Watson)

On Wednesday, July 8th, 2020, we hosted a video AMA with Courtney Watson, LMFT on the Osmind community. Courtney has dedicated her life to the decolonization process for BIPOC and incorporates psychedelic-assisted therapy into her work. She is the founder of Doorway Therapeutics, a group therapy practice based out of Oakland, California. You can watch a video of the full AMA here. Here are some of the key questions and answers in the summarized form:

How do you see drug stigma combatted in a POC-centric context? How do you think shame is going to be addressed in the people for whom this is an obstacle?

  1. Talk about colonization and history with your family. Bring in the cultural context and talk about indigenous knowledge systems. Some of the things that were historically lost to colonization were psychedelic and plant medicines, which form our indigenous knowledge and ways we heal ourselves.
  2. Bring your family back to their roots and give yourself back the things that were taken away as colonized people, formerly colonized people, and ex-slaves.
  3. Know for yourself that you are drawn to this because of your ancestral roots.

Approaching this from a provider standpoint, what can we do to educate ourselves on how to best serve communities that we might not know too much about?

Look at white supremacy in the medical community. Black people receive less pain medication than others because of the myth that the black community has a higher pain tolerance. Look at the education system and see where white supremacy and anti-blackness lies. Is there space for queer folks in this area? How do we look for the phobias that are present in this system? How can we educate ourselves?

When it comes to mental health, can you tell us about some of the unique challenges that people from the communities you work with (eg Black Indigenous People of Color, Queer folks, Trans, Gender Non-conforming, Non-binary and Two-Spirit individuals) face that the “usual American” doesn’t face?

When I have a client I know that the hour between patient and client is safe but once that hour is over they may feel unsafe in their outside environments and in the rest of their lives. A provider should take that into consideration.

What changes in the mental health space would you like to see be implemented over the next 5–10 years?

The mental health space needs more representation and diversity from the BIPOC and nonconforming community in leadership spaces, like APA and AAMFT. Conversations need to be guided by these communities because they have been guided by the white community for too long.

With regards to your trans patients who have had gender correction surgery, how do you feel the surgery affects their mental health? And are there any studies you can recommend on this topic?

Surgeries are only affirming for what trans patients already know to be true and will likely have a positive effect on their mental health.

Do you feel like the marginalized communities that you work with are less trusting of medical professionals? Was this an issue for you? If so, how do you deal with it?

Marginalized communities are less trusting of medical professionals because of the systemic issues and discrimination that are happening within the community. There is a higher chance that a black woman will die giving birth compared to a white woman and statistics like this have caused me to feel a sense of distrust for the healthcare system.

I myself have had to search high and low for a doctor after experiencing issues with my provider. There are health disparities for the black community, and the roots of white supremacy in the medical community do not make it safe for anybody. The people who are marginalized should not only have to be advocating for themselves; others should advocate for them as well.

What are your thoughts on clients doing MDMA alone without a therapist for PTSD? BIPOC may be less likely to find a therapist who represents their marginalized group. Thoughts on starting a safe BIPOC group or meetup in every state? Or is it even safe for them considering how racist the criminal justice system is as it may make them more vulnerable targets? How can we make groups safer for BIPOC so they are more willing to participate? Which psychedelics do you think are best for BIPOC to heal from racial based trauma? MDMA?

  1. MDMA is not legal yet. As a licensed professional, I do not recommend MDMA use alone for PTSD and healing practice. I recommend you do it with a therapist once it’s legal if recommended by your provider.
  2. We need to work to decrease the problems with access for the BIPOC community so we can be present in these spaces. If you need support, find your way to ‘the underground’ and there will be groups for you. I cannot personally advocate for or recommend any of these groups.
  3. There is not enough scientific information to determine what psychedelics are best for the BIPOC community. Current research studies on psychedelics are predominantly white. Research is not the place to get this information as it is not made for BIPOC, it’s for the white community. Research helps ensure that these products are passed through and access is given to the BIPOC community.

Thank you for tuning in! For our next AMA on Wednesday, July 22nd, check out Chi, a global psychedelics advocate and founder of Tripsitters. You can sign up for an account on the forum to post your questions for Chi.

Osmind’s mission is to maximize patient access to innovative mental health treatments where other therapies have failed. We do that by building software to improve the patient experience, empower providers to deliver better care, and help life sciences organizations get psychedelic medicine and other groundbreaking therapies onto the medical market.

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Sarai Thach

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Osmind

We build software for mental health providers and their patients. Our software and insights improve clinical care while advancing research towards new treatments and precision health.