Black Therapist Shares Advice For Coping With Racism Abroad

One of the best things about traveling is that it allows you to see the immense beauty the world has to offer. 

Unfortunately, the downside of traveling can be certain encounters with some people that will remind you just how ugly the world can be.

Travel Noire spoke to Psychotherapist Sonja Harrison. She has advice for Black travelers trying to cope with dealing with racism abroad.

What is your body’s initial response after dealing with a traumatic incident such as racism?

Harrison: Traumatic responses are processed by our central nervous system as a threat to our safety and survival. Automatic responses to threats are to connect, flee, fight, or freeze.

What should you do immediately after the encounter?


Harrison: If you can…you want to step outside and step into a neutral space. Take some deep breaths, orient to your environment.

Harrison: Research shows that the presence of those who we love can help calm us when we’re feeling unsafe. 

What are some ways to cope until one can get back home to see their therapist?

Harrison: Ideally, you want in-person connection, but FaceTiming or hearing the voices of loved ones and people that we care about will also work.

Harrison: Exercise is also important because it releases endorphins and pinned up energy that may be a result of trauma energy.

Is there anything else you would like to tell our readers?

Harrison: Therapy is an essential part of self-care. Finding a therapist who is a good fit is important in helping us navigate traumatic experiences such as racism.

Harrison: If the therapist you find is not a good fit, don’t stop your search and just continue. Make your self-care a priority.

Want to learn more?