On Social Justice and Self Care: A Podcast with Psychotherapist Alejandra Spector
“A lot of therapists don’t have any sort of political analysis, and that hurts people,” Spector says.
Alejandra Spector is a practicing psychotherapist and licensed master social worker, from El Paso, Texas. Spector, who now lives in Austin, grew up in a bilingual family of border activists. Her father, Carlos Spector, is a well-known asylum and human rights lawyer, and her mother, Sandra Spector, is a longtime community organizer who runs the family’s law practice.
Social justice work can be incredibly rewarding. But it can also lead to burn out and take a physical and mental toll. Spector stresses the importance of self-care. “Are you eating enough, drinking enough water, and getting enough sleep? Are you finding things you enjoy outside of social justice work?” she says. “Having people who really know and care about you is important. Who is in your life, and who is helping you?”
Her therapy practice reflects her border upbringing by focusing on the mental health impacts of systemic oppression, racism, and forced displacement, which leads to migration. Most of her clients are people of color, including DACA recipients who are struggling with complicated stressors outside their control. “A lot of therapists don’t have any sort of political analysis, and that hurts people,” Spector says. “I always ask, ‘Are you internalizing and blaming yourself for something that is actually systemic?’ A lot of depression and anxiety we’re seeing is about the world we live in.”
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