Micro-Aggressions: Making the Invisible Visible in the Therapeutic Setting

Debra Chatman Finley, MA, DVS, LPC and Gliceria Perez, LCSW

Micro-aggressions are everyday occurrences which reflect a person’s internalized stereotypes and prejudices. These verbal or nonverbal interactions are often unconscious and unintentional, and are difficult to recognize because they are subtle and appear innocuous. Therapists often bear witness to clients’ experiences of micro-aggressions that leave them feeling inferior, dismissed, or devalued. But what happens when therapists are the ones committing micro-aggressions? While there are several types of micro-aggressions, this course will focus on micro-aggressions committed as a result of race and class. This course will provide a safe venue in which participants are encouraged to examine their own beliefs in terms of race and class, and how these beliefs may unconsciously manifest as micro-aggressions in treatment and/or the therapeutic relationship. Through the use of videos and questionnaires/scales, participants will examine the consequences of micro-aggressions on clients and how to engage in conversation with clients around these issues.


  • Define the concept of micro-aggressions.
  • Identify three forms of micro-aggressions (micro-insults, micro-assaults, and micro-invalidations).
  • Recognize the clinical implications of one’s own micro-aggressions when working with clients.
  • Integrate at least two practical tools that assess the therapist’s own beliefs regarding race and class when working with clients.

Presenter Biographies:
Debra Chatman-Finley is a Licensed Professional Counselor with over 15 years clinical experience. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Seton Hall University and her Masters in Counseling Psychology from The College of Saint Elizabeth. She is a graduate and former Associate Faculty of the Multicultural Family Institute and is certified in domestic violence, trained in EMDR, and has completed certificate programs in child maltreatment as well as traumatic stress. Ms. Chatman-Finley is currently in private practice providing therapy for diverse individuals and families. In addition to her private practice, she has facilitated numerous workshops on the topic of children and divorce, the impact of domestic violence, blended families and interracial/ intercultural families.

Gliceria Perez is a Psychiatric Social Worker at the Office of George J. Otlowski, Sr., Center for Mental Health Care (formerly known as the Raritan Bay Mental Health Center) where she works primarily with individuals, groups and families of Latino descent. She has been an in-home therapist for Creative Consulting Services, Inc. for the past ten years where she works with low-income troubled children, youth and their families who are in crisis and need short-term therapy. Ms. Perez earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from Rutgers University and her Masters of Social Work Degree from Fordham University. She is a graduate of the Multicultural Family Institute and the Trauma Center at JRI and is trained in EMDR and Family Systems Therapy. In January of 2015, Ms. Perez started her private practice.

Debra Chatman Finley and Gliceria Perez currently co-facilitate a bi-monthly support group for Women of Color and will be teaching a mini-course entitled “Race and Social Class Micro-Aggressions: Making the Invisible Visible in the Clinical Setting” at New York University’s Silver School of Social Work in 2015.

Location: Eisenhower Conference Center, 80 Beaufort Avenue, Livingston, NJ 07039

Date: April 15, 2015                                            Time: 9:30am-3:00pm
Registration and coffee/tea will take place between 9:30-10:00a.m. The workshop will begin promptly at 10:00a.m. Lunch will be provided.

10:00-11:15a.m. Welcome and Introduction:
Racial and Class Micro-Aggressions
11:15-11:25a.m. Morning Break
11:25a.m.-12:00p.m. Exercise and discussion
12:00-1:00p.m. Lunch Break
1:00-2:00p.m. Case Conceptualization
2:00-2:45p.m. Helpful Resources
2:45-3:00p.m. Closing and Evaluations

Target Audience: This course is designed for social workers, counselors, and other mental health professionals working with diverse populations, including mental health administrators, clinicians, self-help center managers/facilitators, screeners, and case managers.

This course is appropriate intermediate level participants.

CEUs: Social workers and counselors will receive 4 CEUs in Cultural Competence.

FAMILYConnections is approved as a provider for continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) www.aswb.org, through the Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program (provider #1252) and by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) Approved Continuing Education Provider program (provider #6604). Family Connections maintains responsibility for the program.This course is approved by the Association of Social Work Boards – ASWB NJ CE Course Approval Program Provider #34 Course #234 from 01/30/2015 to 01/30/2017. Social workers should contact their regulatory board to determine course approval.

All participants must sign in and sign out and complete a course evaluation in order to receive CEUs. Partial credit will not be given to those arriving late or leaving early. Certificates will be awarded at the end of the session. 

Directions & Parking Information:
Please visit: http://www.conferencenj.com/directions.html.
Detailed directions and information will be sent to registrants in a confirmation email.

If you need accommodations for a disability, please contact Niki DeVonish, Training Coordinator, at 973-323-3454.

Registration: Registration for this training is full and has been closed. 

To register for the wait-list, please click here.

Please note that in order to maximize the number of agencies benefiting from CultureConnections trainings, we will not accept more than 3 registrants per agency during the priority registration period. We ask each agency to coordinate registrations so that no more than 3 individuals register for any given training. If space permits, additional registrations from the same agency will be accepted after the DMHAS priority registration deadline on April 3rd. 

Grievances: Please contact Niki DeVonish, Training Coordinator, at 973-323-3454 with any grievances.

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