New Book: Psychosocial Responses to Sociopolitical Targeting, Oppression and Violence

Professor Emeritus Joshua Miller published a new book aimed at helping clinicians begin decolonizing clinical social work practice, particularly when working with groups that are socially and politically targeted and marginalized in an international context. Published by Routledge, Psychosocial Responses to Sociopolitical Targeting, Oppression and Violence: Challenges for Helping Professionals, is available for purchase on

Joshua Miller smiles at the camera wearing a jacket and tie.

"It was influenced by the Smith SSW anti-racism commitment and five Core Principles and acknowledges the work of the current administration and faculty at SSW as a foundation for the book's concepts and practice ideas," said Miller. "I very much had SSW students in mind as I was writing the book."

Miller defines socio-political oppression as a sustained, systematic catastrophe, which results from coloniality, structural oppression,  social targeting and discrimination such as racism, sexism and misogyny, homophobia and anti-immigrant fervor. The book attempts to aid clinicians in understanding the collective and individual consequences of these forces and offers a range of ways to intervene on the micro, mezzo and macro levels. It includes chapters on responses to sociopolitical targeting, consequences of historical and collective trauma, the impact of violence and immigration, and then moves to describing a model of psychosocial capacity building that is founded on historical and cultural sources of resilience, how workers can develop a critical awareness and engage in ongoing self-care.  

The book questions the coloniality of Western, Eurocentric psychology and psychotherapy and how it is applied to all cultures and societies regardless of the meaning of personhood. Drawing on Indigenous and BIPOC wisdom, knowledge and scholarship, and using case studies from around the world, it criticizes, while also adapting and integrating, knowledge and theory from the fields of disaster mental health, psychosocial capacity building, trauma therapy, psychodynamic theory, cognitive behavioral theories, liberation psychology and theories of resilience. In addition to discussing historical and social oppression, intergroup conflict and resolution, the book focuses on practice that centralizes social justice. It offers critiques of dominant Western, Eurocentric visions of personhood and models of intervention and questions assumptions about the roles of "client" and "worker," proposing more egalitarian, collaborative relationships and extensive use of training of trainers. The book stresses collective and individual sources of strength and efficacy, while also responding to vulnerability, stress and trauma.  

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