Roxy Manning, PhD

57: Roxy Manning, PhD – Clinical Psychologist and Certified Center for Nonviolent Communication (CNVC) Trainer Shares her Journey, Passion, Advice, and Discusses her Two New Books

Can one person leverage the power of Nonviolent Communication (NVC) and the power of authentic dialogue to create a more just, equitable world? A world in which a person can be both fierce and compassionate while directly challenging racist speech or actions without shaming the other person? In this podcast, Dr. Roxy Manning, a clinical psychologist, and certified Center for Nonviolent Communication (CNVC) trainer, shares her journey and passion for nonviolent social justice. She also discusses her two new books that help people learn about their own implicit biases, how to engage in antiracist conversations, and the power of authentic dialogue.

Dr. Roxy Manning originally thought that she was going to be a medical doctor. Then, when attending Howard University, an historically black college in Washington, DC, she realized that she disliked chemistry, so she eventually transferred to the City College of New York where she had five different majors before realizing that psychology was something that she found “really intriguing and interesting.” After receiving her bachelor’s in psychology, Dr. Manning attended Binghamton University in NY where she earned her PhD in Clinical Psychology. She had her first child while in graduate school and shares a brief story about that experience. She states, “my dissertation adviser, who really was quite amazing, gave me this little, tiny room in the lab where I could put a little play pen and he came with me to campus like almost every day.” After having her third child, Dr. Manning took a break and stayed home and that is when she started a very small private practice where she could see a few clients.

During this time, she also learned about Nonviolent Communication, “So, I started doing a lot of training and education in that and started merging those two fields, king of bringing all the things I knew from psychology with working with people individually with nonviolent communication, and then working with organizations.” Dr. Manning is a certified Center for Nonviolent Communication (CNVC) trainer and integrated NVC into her psychotherapy practice since 2003 and has been offering classes and workshops in NVC since 2005.

Throughout our discussion, Dr. Manning openly shares her journey, experiences, and advice not only to those interested in the field of psychology but also to those who want to learn more about their own biases and how to engage in antiracist conversations.

Dr. Manning discusses her two forthcoming books. In the first book, How to Have Antiracist Conversations, Dr. Manning provides a new way to conceive of antiracist conversations, along with practical tools and frameworks that make them possible. Her work is grounded in the idea of Beloved Community, as articulated by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as a goal to aspire to and even experience now, in the present, when we give up on the transformative power of human connection within ourselves, with potential allies, and with those who words and actions create harm.

In the second book, The Antiracist Heart, Dr. Roxy Manning and Sarah Peyton explain the neuroscience behind concepts such as privilege and its impact on the brain, disgust and coded language, and microaggressions and provide specific exercises and skill sets designed to rewire the brain, in order to unravel implicit bias. Implicit biases begin forming before we have language and are deeply rooted in the subconscious. By combining neuroscience, introspection, and self-compassion, one can disrupt unconscious patterns.

During our discussion, Dr. Manning delineates between a “conversation” and “authentic dialogue.” She states, “I think of conversations as we’re kind of sharing information, I might be wanting to let you know about my point of view, but that’s it. When I think about dialogue, I’m thinking about I’m actually sharing honestly and vulnerably my experience inviting you to share yours with the idea that we can be moved, we can be shifted by each other’s experience. And this is huge.”

What advice does Dr. Manning share for psychology students just starting their academic journey? She provides plenty of advice including, “think outside the box…go out there and interview people, research people. If you want to do clinical, it was really helpful that I could spend 2 years as a domestic violence counselor.” She states, “so, get some of those hands-on experiences that will let you know that, yeah, this is really what I want to do for the next 50 years of my life.”

For those interested in opening their own business or private practice, Dr. Manning shares this thoughtful and impactful advice, “one of the things that someone told me, that was connected to my nonviolent communication practice and my psychology practice, was to find your niche. You know, there are millions of psychologists out there, but what makes you unique?”

Connect with Dr. Roxy Manning: LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Connect with the Show: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn

Interests and Specializations

Dr. Roxy Manning is a clinical psychologist and certified Center for Nonviolent Communication (CNVC) trainer. She brings decades of service experience to her work interrupting explicitly and implicitly oppressive attitudes and cultural norms. Dr. Manning has worked, consulted, and provided training across the US with businesses, nonprofits, and government organizations wanting to move towards equitable and diverse workplace cultures, as well as internationally in over 10 countries with individuals and groups committed to social change. As a psychologist, she works in San Francisco serving the unhoused and disenfranchised mentally ill population.


Bachelor of Arts (BA), Psychology; City College of New York, New York City, NY.
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Clinical Psychology (2000); Binghamton University, Binghamton, NY.

Other Sources and Links of Interest

Dr. Roxy Manning: Fierce Compassion Podcast
Dr. Roxy Manning: Linktree

Podcast Transcript

00:14 Bradley
Welcome to the Master’s in Psychology Podcast, where psychology students can learn from psychologists, educators, and practitioners to better understand what they do, how they got there, and hear the advice they have for those interested in getting a graduate degree in psychology. I’m your host, Brad Schumacher, and today we welcome Dr. Roxy Manning to the show. Dr. Manning is a clinical psychologist and certified Center for Nonviolent Communication Trainer. She brings decades of service experience to her work, interrupting explicitly and implicitly oppressive attitudes and cultural norms. Dr. Manning has worked, consulted, and provided training across the US with businesses, nonprofits, and government organizations wanting to move towards equitable and diverse workplace cultures as well as internationally in over 10 countries with individuals and groups committed to social change. She works as a psychologist in San Francisco and is author of How to Have Antiracist Conversations: Embracing Our Full Humanity to Challenge White Supremacy and co-author with Sarah Peyton of the companion text, The Antiracist Heart: A Self-Compassion and Activism Handbook. Today, we will learn more about her academic and professional journey, more about her practice, and more about the power of authentic dialogue. Dr. Manning, welcome to our podcast.

01:36 Roxy
Thank you, Bradley. And please call me Roxy.

01:40 Bradley
That sounds good. Thank you, Roxy. And as you probably know and are aware, our podcast briefly goes over your academic and professional journey. So, to start off, I’ll ask you, tell me a little bit more about your undergraduate experiences. Where did you go to school? Your major, that sort of thing.

01:58 Roxy
So, I started out actually at Howard University, which is a historically black college in Washington, DC and after one year, I really struggled. I thought I was going to be a medical doctor ever since I was 7, I kept saying, I’m going to be a doctor when I grow up, but when I got to Howard, I realized I hate chemistry. It was not for me. And so, I was struggling there for a while and my dad said come back home, which was New York City. So, I finished my undergraduate degree at City College of New York in New York City. And there I studied, I think I had five different majors before I realized psychology, yeah, this is something that I find really intriguing and interesting. And that matches what I thought was true of the field at the time, which was I hate sitting in the 9:00 to 5:00 kind of setting. And so, if I were a psychologist, I’d have lots of flexibility.

02:49 Bradley
And so, you had many different majors, but was it just that introductory to psych class that sparked your interest in the field of psychology or what actually sparked your interest?

02:59 Roxy
I think it was a combination of intro to psych and then social, intro to social psych especially because I’ve always been really interested in like systems and groups.

03:04 Bradley
Oh, OK.

03:09 Roxy
And how they work together. So probably that was what got me really excited about it.

03:14 Bradley
Well, I noticed that you actually, let me share my screen for a second. You actually received your doctorate from Binghamton University, and you earned your PhD in Clinical Psychology. There are many New York graduate psychology programs that offer graduate degrees. So, tell us what drew you to Binghamton?

03:35 Roxy
Well, this is going to sound really sad. At the time, I was dating my high school sweetheart and he was getting his PhD in math at Binghamton, and he’d gone there, undergrad, masters, and doctorate. And so, I decided to move up there at the end of my fourth year in college and when I did, I had a couple of classes left to take. So, I took those classes in the psych department at Binghamton.

03:59 Bradley

04:01 Roxy
And this was really important because one of the things we often don’t talk about, and it’s really relevant now with the Supreme Court decision, is the whole question about affirmative action. I came from an immigrant family. There was no way I was going to be able to pay for college. Even college was hard, much less grad school, and that was one of the benefits of going to a Community College, City College is a Community College. It was affordable, I could pay for it out of pocket by working. When I was at Binghamton, I had a professor who taught three of my classes, Dr. Jane Connor, and she said tell me more about you, tell me more about your life. And this is something that very few professors had done, like taking an interest in me. So, she learned that I had gone to Stivers in high school, which is a school for gifted kids in New York City. I was a kind of student who was a really bad student. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was actually losing my hearing, so I wear a cochlear implant now. And so, I hated going to class. I would basically ignore everything in class so I would cut, or I would sleep. But I would always be able to like answer things really quickly, I understood everything that I read. And so, she decided to mentor me and she’s the person who said what are you doing? What are you doing next after college? And I said, I think I might get a job and I got a job. I worked for three years as a prison guard and as a domestic violence counselor, and then it was the prison guard experience that made me realize I need to do more. I wanted to help people more than, you know, just kind of like warehousing them, right? And she said apply to grad school. I’m going to walk you through this and I’m going to help you apply for the affirmative action scholarship. And she did. And that’s why I chose Binghamton. It was literally the only school that I applied to.

05:39 Bradley
Oh wow, what a story and and you know a lot of our audience members ask well, how do you decide on which branch of psychology you’re interested in? Do you select it ahead of time or does it kind of emerge for you based on your interest? So, tell us what led you to the clinical branch of psychology.

05:57 Roxy
Well, I kind of knew ahead of time, especially because of the work I had done before going to grad school, working as a domestic violence counselor, that I really wanted to help people find a way to transform their lives. And so clinical just seemed like a really great match for what I did. Interestingly, Jane, who became my dissertation advisor, was not a clinical psychologist, and I think this is a little bit different than a lot of folks. She basically took me under her wing and got the clinical faculty to agree that she could mention me and that we would do research that also matched some of my interests. I was interested in, again, how people deal with stigma. Anything about groups. So, with her, I did research on race. I did research on stigma, uh, my dissertation was on how people, on helping people understand stress and different ways of coping with stress. So, I was really interested in things that she as a social psychologist and the cognitive psychologist could really support me with.

06:53 Bradley
What advice would you give to aspiring psychology students who are just starting their academic journey?

07:01 Roxy
I think it’s to really think outside of the box. You know, we all have an image of what a clinical psychologist is or what a psychologist is that we get from television, right? Lots, like Frazier, I used to love that show. Not really what a psychologist is. And so, it’s really go out there and interview people, research people. If you think you want to do clinical, it was really helpful that I could spend 2 years as a domestic violence counselor, which was a lot of like listening to people listening to people who were depressed, helping people find like their motivation to be able to create change. So, get some of those hands-on experiences that will let you know that, yeah, this is really what I want to do for the next 50 years of my life.

07:40 Bradley
Can you think of any other experiences that students could use or or take the opportunity to, you know, get involved, labs, that sort of stuff during their education to help them determine, hey, is clinical psychology for me? And if it isn’t, then great. I found that out. I can go do something else.

07:59 Roxy
Absolutely. Well, of course I would say joining labs makes a lot of sense and I did do some labs when I was an undergrad, right? So doing labs and if you’re interested doing labs in a variety of fields within psychology. Because like I said, I started off being really interested in social psychology, but then it became clear that I was actually interested in the individual people piece, right? So doing those kinds of labs are helpful, but a different advice that I would give folks is if you want, and again, I’m talking to your clinical psychology folks, get out there and get into the real world. I feel really scared as a psychologist when people who only have had one worldview. One way of thinking about the world, what their experiences are, are out there in the clinical field and have this idea that this is what everyone’s experience is like. So go working settings that are 180 degrees different from the ones that you grew up in, that you’re familiar with, so that we can start to notice our stereotypes and our biases and challenge them and can be more welcoming and inclusive in the field.

09:01 Bradley
Well, you’re you’re you’re speaking to the choir, so to speak. And I looked at your background and you were a lead trainer and organizer with New York Intensives for over 11 years. You also served as collaborative trainer and Executive director of Bay Area Nonviolent Communication for over 14 years. You have served as a clinical psychologist for the city and County of San Francisco Human Services Agency for almost 9 years. And now you have had your own private practice for a number of years. At what point did you know that you wanted to open up your own business? And I say business because you do more than just psychological services. You actually provide other services as well. So, at what point did you know that you wanted to open your own business, private practice and then expand that?

09:49 Roxy
Actually, pretty early on. I had children and this is another thing that I think was a little bit different from my journey, from a lot of my peers. I had my first child when I was in grad school. And so, and actually, I’d love to talk a little bit about that. I had my first child in grad school, and so for the last year of grad school, my dissertation adviser who really was quite amazing, gave me this little, tiny room in the lab where I could put a little play pen and he came with me to campus like almost every day. And I was really aware that working a nine to five job would be hard and didn’t quite match with being the kind of parent I wanted to be, so I took some time off. After I had my third child, I took some time off. I stayed home and I started doing a very small private practice. So that’s when my private practice started. I could see a few clients and still kind of keep my toes in the field while still being there for my parents. And it was during that time that I learned about nonviolent communication. So, I started doing a lot of training and education in that and started merging those two fields, kind of bringing all the things I knew from psychology with working with people individually with nonviolent communication, and then working with organizations.

11:02 Bradley
I should I should remember that you keep referencing it as non von. I have it memorized as NVC, so I could say non von.

11:11 Roxy
Nonviolent, nonviolent.

11:13 Bradley
OK. So nonviolent communication. And so, I kind of remembered it as an NVC. And so, what I what I wanted to follow up on. Was first of all, what a great guy to give you that space on campus to…

11:29 Roxy

11:30 Bradley
Oh, ok. What a great advisor, woman, to give you that space. Not many people would even think of doing something like that to help accommodate you. So that’s great that you had that. In your experience, what qualities or characteristics do you believe are the most important to run a successful private practice or business?

11:53 Roxy
The things that I struggled with early on and that I think point to those qualities were things like knowing my boundaries, right? So, I remember early on, and this wasn’t actually even in my private practice, but I like to tell the story because it’s also part of this knowing my boundaries, I was on internship, and I had been really mindful when I was applying for internship that I have an infant. I am not going to take one of those like 80-hour week internships. So, I every time I went on an interview, I would say I’m really excited about your internship. I can only work 40 hours a week. I want to be super clear about that and everyone said that’s the kiss of death you can’t say that. I got ranked highly on all of the internships I was interested in, so I got my chosen spot, but when I got the internship and I got there, I started doing too much. It’s like if a client said, you know, hey, I’d love to reschedule, can I come at XYZ? I’d say yes. And there was one year, one day that a client who had missed multiple sessions called me and said, hey, could you meet me at 6:30? I’m supposed to leave at 5:00 and I said yes, did not know my boundaries. And I’m at the office and she does not show and I’m angry. And I could feel like I was just so, like, angry. I could feel my blood pressure rising, and I had an aneurysm in that moment.

13:14 Bradley
Oh no.

13:14 Roxy
And I actually had to. I had enough presence of mind to call downstairs, and security came and got me and took me to the hospital. But it was just kind of like this was the ultimate sign that if I don’t set my own boundaries and what’s truly working for me, it’s, it’s not sustainable on any level. And so that was the thing I had to learn.

13:34 Bradley
Well, that’s a very teachable moment and, and to share. So, thank you. I mentioned that you are certified, you are a Certified Center for Nonviolent Communication Trainer. You integrated NVC into your psychotherapy practice around 2003 and you’ve been offering classes and workshops in NVC since 2005. So, tell us a little bit more about your practice and what a typical day looks like for you, considering all of the services that you provide.

14:01 Roxy
That can be a little bit challenging, right? I I’d say there are two typical days. So, there are the days when I go into the office for the city and then the days that I don’t. On the days should I go into the office for this city, I try to be very focused on I’ve got this job, I need to go in and to I’m still struggling with this, I’m not a paperwork kind of person, so I’m still coming up with my plans, so I generally as a clinical psychologist doing assessments, I see one to two clients a day and my interviews, my assessments can run to two to three hours. And so, I schedule them generally at 9:00 AM and 1:00 PM. I come in early, about 7:30-8:00, and do all of my paperwork. Get ready for my client. But then I try to write most of their report immediately after seeing them, so I don’t have all of this paperwork hanging over my head, and I’ll often work 10 hour days when I’m in the city just so I can get all of those reports, the bulk of them done while I’m there. On the nonclinical days, oh, it’s a million different things. Sometimes I might be doing an organizational training, sometimes I’m writing the book you know, like there was a lot of just like writing articles, writing the book, attending to like, oh my gosh, there’s so much paperwork in having a business and that’s another piece of advice I would give people.

15:23 Bradley

15:24 Roxy
If you can, don’t do it all yourself. Like I am not a bookkeeper. I am not a website designer and I started off my practice doing all of those things. And you know, we’re all smart. If you’re getting a doctorate, you’re smart enough, you can figure it out. But I started to remind myself I’m going to pay someone much less per hour to do these things for me. Then I would make if I were actually seeing a client or working with the client. So just stop doing it. And I had to learn how to let go of the sense of control like I needed to make everything perfect. And just really trust the folks who were supporting me to take over some of those things. So, a lot of my days are just either meeting with clients, especially organizational clients, to figure out what do you need, how can I support you? Planning workshops, planning classes and then delivering them.

16:09 Bradley
Well, you brought up something that I was going to ask about, running your own business, your private practice. And did you do everything yourself? And it sounds like you did everything yourself at the very beginning and slowly or quickly realize that, hey, it makes more sense to have somebody come in and focus on that so I can focus on other things. And it makes more financial sense as well as just your own, you know, feeling overwhelmed. It takes some of the burden off of your shoulders by doing that as well. So, any other challenges or advice that you can share with people who are considering opening up their own private practice?

16:46 Roxy
Yeah, I think there’s always a challenge of like, how do I get people right? How do people find out about me? How do they, they come to me? For me, I actually very rarely did any advertising. I don’t even think I have a Psychology Today profile for instance. One of the things that someone told me, that was connected to my nonviolent communication practice and my psychology practice, was to find your niche. You know, there are millions of psychologists out there, but what makes you unique? And what I started to do was I’m doing NVC infused psychology clinical psychology, right? So, bringing in a lot of the concepts of NVC to support people. And that’s what I was known for whenever somebody was looking for a psychologist who knew NVC, they came to me. And those folks referred me to their friends. And so, I very quickly had more clients than I could see because I had this very specific niche that I was developing. And then I also broadened that to I would also work organizationally with anyone who was interested in the DEI work. And that’s pretty much my niche, like thinking about how do we attend to power and privilege using nonviolent communication and clinical and psychology concepts in organizational settings.

17:54 Bradley
Well, it sounds like you definitely found your niche and and people spread the news and and you’ve found enough clients. Now, you mentioned earlier that a lot of your work is on assessment and so tell, tell us a little bit more about that and, and who are your target audience or clients when you’re doing those assessments?

18:14 Roxy
Well, the assessment work that I do is all for the city.

18:18 Bradley

18:19 Roxy
So, I don’t do private assessments and so my clients there are all people who would qualify for social services. So very disenfranchised, poor, low income, often mentally ill, substance abusing. And we get a wide range of clients. It’s actually like if you’re interested in clinical psychology, one of the things that appealed to me about this position is that I see people with disorders that you just never see in your typical private practice, right. Like, I’ve had a Munchausen psychosis. I’ve had, or I’ve had lots of bipolar. I’ve had some dissociative things like, like every single possible diagnosis I’ve had. And it’s really, really fun. So, it always keeps me on my toes. I’m always kind of going like, Oh, I don’t know that I’ve actually paid attention to that one since grad school, let me go do some research, right? It’s so so fun.

19:06 Bradley
Right. Well, it sounds like it and you know, I ask this of people who have their own private practice. If you were in therapy yourself, describe your ideal therapist.

19:17 Roxy
I am in therapy myself.

19:19 Bradley

19:20 Roxy
So that’s another tip that I would give people. So, you know, psychologists, just heal yourselves. We often don’t do it and I have to say that I went through a number of therapists before I found my ideal therapist. So, this is a really great question. For me, I needed somebody who was aware of and really well-versed in understanding like race relations in the US and how that impacted me. So, somebody who understood the immigrant experience, I’m an immigrant, and all of the different ways that I silenced myself. It’s like I look on paper like, oh my gosh, this person is so confident and they’re doing so many amazing things. But I was always beating myself up. I was always insecure. And everything felt like this really heavy like, OK, just do it. You know people are gonna hate it, but just do it anyway, and I would do it. But it was really hard, so I needed somebody who could help me work through some of those, those consequences of being a racialized person in the United States. I also needed somebody who was willing to call me out on things. Like I did not need a therapist who was kind of gonna. I didn’t need someone who would come in with like, here’s the answer to everything, because I’m very resistant to being told what to do. But I also didn’t need somebody who would just let me run the show, cause I’m really good at doing that. And my therapist is just a lovely balance of kind of listening to me and letting me say the things and then kind of saying So what are you noticing about what you just said? Or like actually naming it like. Did you notice that I asked you about this and you went on about this? And what does that mean to you, right? And also bringing in and trusting that I do have some knowledge myself and that if you ask me, I can actually apply to move it to myself. So, like that, it’s a really lovely combination I have with my therapist.

21:08 Bradley
Well, it sounds like it, it sounds like you found the right therapist who can allow you to be and have that freedom, but catch you every once in a while, trying to sneak by and and not really address some of the issues that you may need to address. So that’s great.

21:22 Roxy

21:23 Bradley
That’s wonderful. And you had mentioned one thing. So that’s a good transition. You are the author of How to Have Antiracist Conversations: Embracing Our Full Humanity to Challenge White Supremacy. In the book, you layout a framework and I think it’s actually based on Dr. Martin Luther King’s framework of the…what is that called?

21:42 Roxy
Beloved community.

21:44 Bradley
Beloved community. So, first off, tell us a little bit more about that framework, beloved community, and then we’ll talk shortly about authentic dialogue.

21:53 Roxy
Sure. So, for me, beloved community was a really important way to start thinking about how we related together and in in some ways, what my intention is, because there’s lots and like their psychology, their sociology, there are lots of theories about creating change and creating social change. But we often don’t think about what’s our end game, what are we trying to achieve. And Beloved Community is this idea that we all, every single person in the world, regardless of our identity, we need to thrive. We need a rule where we can all thrive. And so many ways that we think about change involves elevating one group over another, right? So as a black person myself, it’s like, well, black people have very much been subjugated in our society. So, let’s get them to the top but we get a lot of resistance like people like, well, I don’t want to be at the bottom, right? Or people frame it as this kind of like either-or kind of game.

22:51 Bradley

22:52 Roxy
And beloved community says what actually works best for me as a black person is when everyone is thriving, when we’re not playing this, it’s either you or me kind of game. But we’re doing something that makes it work for everyone. Then I’m not dropping myself and I’m not dropping you either. And so. Kind of an analogy that I use it’s a little bit related to psychology is when I’m working with families. It’s like if you have a family member who’s been doing a lot of really horrible things. My job is not to cancel that family member and say you don’t belong in this family anymore. But to say, how can we talk to that family member and say what you’re doing isn’t working for us, that you need to show up differently for our whole family to thrive. And that’s what I’m doing with beloved community. I’m finding the places where people are taking actions that are maybe prioritizing one group over another that are not letting all of us thrive bringing their attention being fierce about bringing it to their attention, but then working together to understand why are you doing this thing? And how can you do something different that will work for you, but also will work for me?

23:55 Bradley
That’s a very good summary. And you know, when I first started looking at these books, I that the immediate first thought that came to me was it’s all in how you approach and the words and the attitude you have when you open up this dialogue. And so that leads me to when I looked up authentic dialogue and, you know, for example, and you should ask yourself three questions, and I’m probably stealing your thunder here…

24:20 Roxy
Go for it.

24:21 Bradley
…but I loved, I loved reading this about authentic dialogue framework you should ask yourself before you even start having this conversation. Three important questions: Am I truly seeking dialogue? Why is this dialogue important to me? and what am I seeking from the other person? So, at this point, I’ll kind of turn it over to you and you can kind of elaborate on what is authentic dialogue and why is that so important? Why should I self-reflect before we enter into this conversation?

24:50 Roxy
So, I love to start this conversation about what authentic dialogue is by talking about the difference between conversation and dialogue.

24:56 Bradley

24:57 Roxy
Because a lot of what happens nowadays are kind of conversations at best, and often it’s just like I’m going to vent and tell you about my opinion.

24:57 Bradley

25:06 Roxy
And that’s it. Like, I’m just sharing information with you. And I think of conversations as we’re kind of sharing information I might be wanting to let you know about my point of view, but that’s it. When I think about dialogue, I’m thinking about I’m actually sharing honestly and vulnerably my experience inviting you to share yours with the idea that we can be moved, we can be shifted by each other’s experience. And this is huge. And so, I’d like to start off with thinking about what is it that’s important to me, because if I’m going into that dialogue thinking I need to, like, convince you that you’re wrong and I’m right, I’m not actually open to that exchange of information that could lead to shift. I’ve closed myself off from the possibility of hearing something from you that can lead to greater understanding or softening of my heart. And so, I want to make sure that I’m really in that mindset that what I’m trying to build is beloved community, not trying to win over you, right?

26:01 Bradley

26:02 Roxy
And so that’s why I think that question is really important. There’s nothing wrong and you know this is being real. We’re human beings sometimes. I’ve had so much pain, something horrendous has happened to me and I’m feeling a lot of pain and anger about it, and I’m not in a position where I’m really open to hearing what your experience is and that’s absolutely OK. If that’s where you are, then one of the steps in this process is get some support, get some empathy, have somebody hear you fully about what your experience is. And then from that more grounded place you might be ready for dialogue. So, it’s really about taking some of these early precursor steps that help us be ready for the true exchange of information that could make dialogue more, more, more productive.

26:49 Bradley
And I like that differentiation between conversation and dialogue. You you have to stop and think about it. It’s logical when you start thinking about it is, hey, I just want to share what I my experience was, what my thoughts and opinions are. And then you kind of step back and you you almost close up. OK, I did my role. That’s all I needed to do. I’m having a conversation with you. And but what they don’t realize is you also have to be open to them, talking and sharing, and then bringing up some questions and and having that dialogue going back and forth. And it’s not competitive. And I’m using my own words here, but it’s not competitive, it’s not one upmanship. It is truly, I truly want to understand your experience because it will help me to understand how I can help, you know, in my introduction, I I mentioned something about you dismantling, you know, a lot of these or interrupting these explicitly and implicitly oppressive attitudes and cultural norms and having that true having a true dialogue helps overcome that. So, I love seeing this second companion text, The Antiracist Heart: A Self-Compassion and Activism Handbook, that was co-authored with Sarah Peyton as well. And so, I loved seeing that because I, in my heart of hearts, want to have these dialogue conversations, but I don’t know how to start that without being threatening to that other group and I would expand this not only to African American, but any other group out there, try to apply this. So, do you have any ways, quick suggestions for people who truly do want to have a dialogue but aren’t equipped to do so, and, and send that, that message, that authentic message to anybody else who wants to engage in that dialogue. Any other suggestions for those kinds of people?

28:44 Roxy
Yeah. So, the first suggestion, and I’m gonna talk to you as a white person, and then invite our audience to extrapolate it to any privileged identity that they might have.

28:48 Bradley
OK, sure.

28:52 Roxy
So, the first suggestion is always to recognize that what you’re experiencing is just one slice of the world. So, if someone is telling you like. Hey, you know, Brad, what you just did didn’t work for me, right. Instead of saying, hey, hold on. But wait. You just didn’t understand why I’m doing this. You just are not seeing me. Just stop and say, huh? What am I not seeing about their experience? What about my identity is getting in the way of me understanding their experience. So slow down and just really interrogate all of the different assumptions that you might be bringing that sometimes you’re not even aware of, right? So that’s the first one. Your worldview is not the only worldview. Another one is really understand the power of empathy. A lot of times people have this idea that I need to fix things, right? It’s like something has happened and I need to be the person to fix everything and that’s actually not what we’re needing. When I’ve experienced harm, a lot of times what I’m wanting is to be heard and fully understood about the impact of that harm. There’s kind of an aloneness and invisibility that happens, that then leads me to create all these stories in my head, right. These are some of the stories that clinical psychologists have to work with I’m not good enough, I’m not worthy, it was something that was my fault, or the world is not safe. So, if I can actually understand and be received with empathy, and then if you can show up with vulnerability about what was going on with you, not an excuse, but a real understanding of what were the needs that were driving you to do this. I can start to shift some of those stories, or maybe not even develop them in the first place, so being able to offer me empathy, non-defensively, listen fully to my pain, and then to share your truth are really, really important steps.

30:41 Bradley
And that opens yourself up it it it lets them know, hey, I am opening myself up, being vulnerable here and I’m willing to do that because I want this dialogue to continue.

30:51 Roxy
Right. And part of the challenge with doing that, if I’m in the privileged position is that I need to be able to be clear that I’m sharing my vulnerability, not so that you can take care of me and make me feel better, but really as a gift to you. So, I often talk about vulnerability as a gift, but if I can share the ways that I showed up in like I I know that there are times when one of the ways that I am privileged is that I’m cisgender and I’ve had some very dear folks, who are supporting me, who are transgender, and I kept misgendering them and this was painful for them. I needed to find a way to understand why am I doing this? Like what is making this so hard for me and to share that with them so that it wasn’t, I know that the story that they were developing is you don’t care enough about me and my experience to take this effort right that I just don’t matter to you, which was 100% not the case. But there was clearly a block that was getting in the way of me remembering their pronouns. And so, I needed to be able to talk about that. And some of it for me was just literally saying, like, you know what, I’m recognizing that as a person with brain injury, the aneurysm that I had, that there’s certain things that I don’t track and I’m always, unless I’m actually paying attention to like, like actually telling myself, look at this person and say their name, look at them say their gender then I lose it and my brain is not tracking and holding onto information as much. And I’m afraid to say that to you because I’m afraid of of being seen as not perfect, you know, not capable, not strong. And I’m wondering if I say that and if I actually take the steps to say I’m going to slow down when we’re talking so I can make this mental association that will help me remember, even if it makes me feel awkward if that is what I need to do. And hearing that it’s like it’s not that I’m not trying, it’s that I was trying to cover up what felt like a vulnerability in myself, right? And they don’t have to make me feel better. They don’t have to do anything. It’s just. And now that I’ve said that, I’m willing to put myself in that vulnerable position and take these steps.

32:55 Bradley
And the downside of you trying to remember not only their name, but you know their preferences and and their their title and what you want to use and what they prefer for to be called, while you’re focusing on that, you may be missing what they’re talking about as well. And so, they’re it’s challenging and you know and I, I sense that from you, you want to have everything perfect and you want to do everything the right the right way, but you’re challenging yourself to say their name and say what they want you to to use.

33:28 Roxy

33:29 Bradley
But at the same time, you’re missing part of that conversation, so I can relate to that because I’m married to a Vietnamese woman and so not only do we have the the cultures difference, but she doesn’t have quite a command of the English language yet. And so sometimes she’s using a word that she thinks means something and then I say honey, are you sure you mean that? And then we discussed what, what she was meaning. Oh no, I meant this totally different, you know, word. And so, part of the the the challenge there is learning the language, learning the culture, understanding in their culture they do it this way. In American culture, we do it something differently and they view it as something bad when we do it that way and vice versa. And so, we could elaborate and actually apply that to different cultures within the United States as well. And so, I I definitely see where taking the time, slowing down, checking yourself and then not being afraid to check that with your, your other person who you’re having that dialogue with saying, hey, this is what I understood you said, is that correct and if not help me better understand.

34:39 Roxy
Right. And also, but it’s even just kind of asking yourself. Because sometimes, especially when you talk about differences in cultural practices, sometimes what they’re saying or doing is perfectly appropriate for their culture and their values. And so, it’s even asking myself, do I need to ask about this? Or can I just go with what they value and what they’re wanting, and is my insistence on bringing this and checking with them a way of centering my culture, right? So, it’s even like opening ourselves to that kind of feedback.

35:09 Bradley
Right. And so, the challenge that a lot of people have, and it just came to my mind just now while you were talking is yes, I want to show empathy. Yes, I want to be aware and cognizant of their culture and what they are are experiencing and doing right now is just fine and actually proactive and good in their culture. A lot of people may think, Dr. Manning, that hey, how do you have a balance between I want to give you that recognition and the right to continue doing what you’re doing based on your culture and experiences without stopping my culture and my experiences. And so, what I was trying to reference is help me better understand that because I’m not aware of what it means to be Vietnamese in this situation. Can you explain that a little bit for me, because in my culture it’s typical that we do this, and so I find being transparent and honest in those type of questions and genuine instead of being condescending or people can recognize if you’re actually being genuine. So, any other thoughts on how we both can maintain, you talked about that beloved, you know, community and so how can we both maintain our rights and everything else related to a specific situation. So, tell us a little bit more about that.

36:31 Roxy
We will, but I want to kind of go back to something you said because I actually really appreciated it. So, when you described the difference in asking this question, you know you know from my understanding it was this. And I could imagine that it’s different and it has a different meaning or there’s a different reason you’re doing this, and I really want to understand. There’s such an openness in the way that you phrased that, that’s different than what often happens, which is I’m holding an idea that what you’re doing is wrong. And so, I’m asking this with this idea that and if I say this, you’re gonna get that you’re doing something wrong, and you’re gonna stop, right. And so, this is part of that, like, pause and reflect on why am I truly bringing this in the moment? And if there is that sense of, like, I’m generally wanting to understand and to find a way for us both to have what we need, it totally changes that, that tone that you talked about and it’s so important. So, some other ways in being able to address some of these differences that arise when people from different backgrounds come together. One is to recognize. Well, let me let me pause for a second. A big one, and it’s one that I think we often don’t do is to have agreements about how we’re going to talk about these kinds of differences when they come up. And I imagine that this is an agreement you have with your wife, right? Like it might be. For me, sometimes when I’m teaching, I might say something like, you know, if you notice I’m saying something that’s challenging, don’t say it in front of the whole group, but like maybe suggest I take a pause and then there’s a small group work and then we can have a conversation about it because it’s hard for me to get this feedback in front of the whole group. But whatever the agreement is like, are there certain areas that are off limits? Are there certain areas that I’m not really able to talk about in the moment. Are there areas where I’m saying, you know, Hun, I know that sometimes I jump in and I’m clueless about this and if you see me going down the shore, could you just stop me right there and say hey, this is that thing you wanted me to like, invite you to slow down and reflect on, right.

38:31 Bradley

38:31 Roxy
So, make explicit agreements about where the areas where you’re wanting support, where the areas you’re wanting feedback. And that’s one big piece. Another piece is and this is where I find the whole concept of observations in nonviolent communication really important is I often invite people to think about not just like whatever is happening out there in the real world, the thing that I might have said or done or the thing that you said or did, but to go layers below that to understand that whenever somebody is stimulated by something that happened that the stimulus is not just whatever it is that I said or did, which makes it easy for me to say, oh, you’re saying I’m at fault you’re saying that all of your pain is about what I did. But to look below that and say I wonder what this person’s experiences might have been, what are some of the things that have happened to them that have might have made this one instance so painful for them and then to also think about and what are the patterns that people from this group have that can also be a source of pain when this happens again. When this one instance happens, but it’s part of this larger pattern. And that helps me to depersonalize it so that I can be open to the feedback, take it in, and then be working with them on changing not just this one instance, but also and how could we impact these patterns that are happening? And I find that this really helps us move away from the kind of fragility and defensiveness that we fall into. And to realizing this is much bigger than just me, and it’s worth having a lot of attention.

40:05 Bradley
Well, thank you for sharing that, that very good advice and and it it just takes us a moment to pause and think about it ahead of time and then establish some ground rules. For example, I have a friend of mine who loves interrupting and, and I, it, it just bugs me every time because I can barely get my thought out and I see it as disrespectful, but when he explained I have to do that because I have it in my mind, and if I don’t say it right then and there and then I, I forget it and, and I feel bad. And so, we talk through, well, maybe you could jot it down or I could just let you, you know go ahead and, and share that and then I pick up because I have the ability to remember what I wanted to say and and and so we’ve come to terms, but there are times when we’re in a heated discussion where all those rules just go out the window and, and I just sit back, relax and let him, you know, let him say what he needs to say. And then I, I come back. So that’s part of the responsibility, is being flexible and, and don’t, don’t blame too much if and when you do, you know, go outside of the boundaries and and be flexible. But still you can bring it up and say hey, I understand it was a heated discussion and, in the future, let’s try to do this and, and maybe modify things.

41:21 Roxy
Let’s talk about that a little bit because I often talk about this in a context that’s dealing with race or other forms of oppression. Right. And so, when it’s a friend and you all have equal status, that makes sense.

41:32 Bradley

41:32 Roxy
But a lot of times it’s like when things are heated and especially when they’re related to race, that’s when people fall back into those old patterns that are not working. And so, part of the invitation I give to people is give yourself permission to interrupt. To say, hey, let’s separate our process from content in a moment. I know there’s a lot of content that’s going on, but right now what’s happening is we’re falling back into this old pattern, and I want to pause, be really mindful and intentional about what we’re doing now, so we don’t repeat this. So sometimes I want us to feel empowered to do that kind of intervention and attend to process, even if the content gets set aside. And I also want to make sure that we don’t prioritize process so much that we completely drop content.

42:19 Bradley
Correct, correct. So, the other thing that I wanted to mention to everybody who’s listening and or watching this podcast is you and Sarah Peyton have a podcast, it’s called Fierce Compassion, and it’s bringing compassion to antiracism. And I believe you’re doing this every couple of weeks, and you come out with a new podcast and so down below you can see the ones that are upcoming. And I love seeing these ahead of time. Not many podcasters, including myself, give kind of a preview of what is in store over the next couple of weeks and so I love seeing that. So, I invite everybody who’s listening and watching this podcast to listen to a few of these. And one final thing that I’ll, I’ll give you some time. Talk to me about, you know, how did you guys come up? Did you know that when you wrote this first book, did you know ahead of time that, hey, we should have kind of a manual. We should have something that should go along with this because you might have realized that, hey, you know this isn’t going to be easy for a lot of people, and some people don’t know where to begin. So, this handbook was a great idea as I mentioned. So, talk about how you came up with this idea for the handbook and and and give us a a high-level view of what this handbook does for the people that are using it.

43:36 Roxy
So, this is a story that I think can be really supportive again, especially to folks who are just coming up in, in whatever field they’re in, right. I wanted to write. I’ve always wanted to write a book. And if you buy the book, you’ll read part of why I had challenges with writing. I won’t go into that right now. But I never did it. And so, Sarah came to me and said, hey, Roxy, I want to write a book with you. And Sarah is, like, an amazing neuroscience educator, has a couple of books already published and I realized that if I wrote a book with Sarah, that because she’s already published because she’s a white woman, it’s very likely that people will think, oh, this is Sarah stuff. This is Sarah’s work, and that my voice would be decentered and so part of my journey as a professional has been understanding some of the ways that race relations and unconscious bias plays out and impacts how people see me and value the work that I do. And I told Sarah I want to write a book with you, and I can’t write a book with you until I have my own book. And so, we agreed to kind of pitch both books together. We said, well, what do you want to write about? And I said absolutely how to combat racism. And she and I have done workshops on some of the blocks that people experience when trying to do that, so we knew we wanted to write our joint book around how do we address those blocks? And so, we decided to pitch both books to publishers at the same time and say it’s a, it’s a, it’s a package deal.

45:05 Bradley
Right, right.

45:08 Roxy
And most publishers were saying, Nope, I’m not gonna do this. And you know, we don’t know you. You’re not. You’re a brand-new author, why would we take this risk? And in fact, our current publisher said, well, you know, we we pitched the book to our team and they want to publish the workbook first. And I said that makes no sense like, why would you publish your workbook first and it’s like well, let’s cause Chala has a track record and we have more confidence it’ll sell. And so again, thinking out the box, we said, OK, what if we can prove to you that people want to buy this book and they said, OK, if you can do that, we’ll, we’ll publish both. And so, I ran a Kickstarter, and I told folks, if you wanna see both books happen pre-order copies and we sold $30,000 worth of copies in the Kickstarter and the publisher said OK. It’s clear people want this book so, so it happens. So, a lot of it was kind of believing that people wanted to hear what I had to say. I’m taking a risk and and really saying I am going to do this. I want to center my voice. And and then also still having this idea that with Sarah there’s so much that she brings in integrating the neuroscience like she really brings in the neuroscience, even though she’s not a psychologist.

46:14 Bradley

46:15 Roxy
But that’s her specialty. Helping us understand why our brains might get in the way of being able to take the actions we really want to take. And so, we’ve really interwoven how to apply the neuroscience to our understanding of antiracism to take actions that are effective.

46:31 Bradley
Well, thank you for that summary. And I should mention that both of these books, you can actually pre-order these books and they’re coming out, publication date is August 29th, 2023, so you’re, it’s coming up fast. All of a sudden, you’re going to wake up and, oh my gosh, it’s here. It’s gonna come up fast. Just like having a baby. And then all of a sudden seeing them 1, 2, 5, 10 years old, 20 years old. Time just flies when you are so busy. So, Roxy, tell me what you love most about your job.

47:02 Roxy
I think it depends on which job. So, when I think about my straight of clinical psychology job, what I love most is making a really tangible difference in people’s lives. Like, these are folks who don’t know how to tell their story, don’t know how to describe their disability in ways that can get them through that hoop. Social Security puts up a lot of barriers to getting Social Security. And so, I’m able to pull together all of the pieces of their lives and interview them in ways that help make it clear the kinds of trauma that they’ve experienced that might lead to them using substances, right? It used to be like, oh, if you’re using substances, you don’t get Social Security. Well, I’m using substances because it’s a way of coping with like, some pretty severe PTSD. So being able to respond to folks, to hear them with a lot of empathy and compassion, so they leave that assessment. People come in saying I’m terrified. I don’t want to do this, and they leave saying that wasn’t so bad. I finally talked about things I’ve never told anyone, and I feel relief and then they get Social Security and so their lives are materially better. It’s just really amazing. So that’s what I love about my clinical psychology job. And then the other things that I’ve built around all of my different levels of experience, what I love is being able to give people hope to have a sense like you have a child, and you have a child who’s multiracial. I have a child who’s multiracial and I’m wanting to create a world that’s better for our children, right. Where some of the experiences that probably your wife has had that I’ve had, that they might not have to have. That the people that they interact with will be better equipped to know how to catch themselves when they experience racism, and that our kids will be better empowered to know. How do I speak up, how to intervene when things happen? So that’s just knowing that I’m making that difference is huge for me.

48:52 Bradley
It sounds like it. What personal or professional goals do you have for the future? In other words, what personal or professional goals do you hope to achieve in your career?

49:06 Roxy
Ohh that’s a great one. I I mean, I feel like I’m already doing it. I just want to get better at what I’m doing, right? I want to be able to reach people and really create change. I want to help people feel more empowered in whatever it is that they’re trying to do in life. And I’m also wanting to be able to reset how organizations, schools like I started doing some of this because my kids were in school. And I wanted to help schools like actually look at some of their practices that weren’t actually that inclusive, right? So, I want to be able to help organizations be more effective in creating inclusive spaces. And just to become more effective at reaching people so that they don’t collapse if they actually show up for these conversations and to support these conversations in ways that are truly effective, yeah.

49:55 Bradley
Well, that sounds good. I know at the end of most of our podcast, we ask a few fun questions, so I usually ask this one first, tell us something unique about yourself.

50:09 Roxy
One unique thing is that like if you ever played two truths and a lie, I snuck into a zoo in Washington, DC after hours. It’s a very strange unique thing.

50:21 Bradley
Wow, why did you do that? You just wanted. It was a challenge. Or you wanted to see something, OK.

50:24 Roxy
It was a challenge. I was a college student. It sounded like it would be fun to do, and I was always a good girl, so it was part of me realizing I don’t have to do the things society, and everyone tells me I should do all the time.

50:34 Bradley
Right, right. Well, good. What is your favorite term, principle, or theory and why?

50:44 Roxy
What an interesting question. I would say, maybe, the fundamental attribution error right now.

50:55 Bradley

50:56 Roxy
Yeah, because it really helps us to understand. It, it for me, it gives us a pathway to compassion for other people in a way that I might not let myself have, right. Like it’s so easy to hold compassion for ourselves and to misconstrue another person’s motives and understanding. But when I can think about, like, this is actually something that our brains do, OK, I can relax and become curious about another person.

51:24 Bradley
And it allows you to open yourself up to find out what that individual is all about now. And so, one thing that a lot of people talk about, they go back to their high school reunion, and they remember people a certain way 20 years later. Obviously, they could have changed. You could have changed and and so the first thing that you remember is ohh my gosh so and so was always this way. And then if you see that person and any behavior that would fall into that category, you almost believe or reify and that they’re the same way until you sit down and actually have a good conversation or dialogue with them. So, it’s interesting that you brought that up as well so. A lot of people go to their reunions and come back and say, Brad, my gosh, you’ve changed so much, or you know I’ve changed so much. And so, it’s interesting. One other thing that I usually ask, and this is kind of a fun one, is if you had the time and money to complete one project or go on one trip, what would you do?

52:31 Roxy
Those are two different like they’re they’re in such different fields for me.

52:33 Bradley
Yeah, alright.

52:36 Roxy
So, I’m going to go with the. I’m going to go with the trip one. It’s interesting, I would have said project. I’ve got an idea for a project but for the trip, so my family, that I’ve built, are very different. My children’s grandparents were both concentration camp survivors and my family were from the Caribbean and we have people from many different ethnicities in our family lineage and I would love to take my children like basically to different parts of the world to understand, like really understand their heritage, to understand not just this idea of like who they are the US society gives them, but it’s like you also come from this group of people who survived this and this group of people who, you know, came over from England and the people who came over from Africa and like what are those different cultural pieces that are still part of you that we’ve lost connection to you because that’s one of the challenges of being black in the United States is that a lot of our ties were cut and so how can we reclaim some of those.

53:41 Bradley
Sure, no, that sounds great. That sounds wonderful. Roxy, do you have any other advice for those interested in the field of psychology?

53:49 Roxy
I would say again, it’s that think outside the box, think about what brings you alive and psychology applies to every single facet of life. So, find a thing, almost like you did, find the broadcasting and the interest in groups and bring them alive, right? Put things together that will really keep you like your passion high rather than saying I’ve gotta sit in an office and listen to people all day cause that’s what psychologists do.

54:14 Bradley
Exactly, exactly. Is there anything else that you’d like to discuss or bring up on this podcast?

54:25 Roxy
I think the, it’s not so much that I want to go into it right now, but the other piece of advice that I would want to give people is to really think about where are you holding compassion for yourself, right? Because it’s really easy as a psychologist to hold compassion for other people. That’s what we’re trained to do. We’re really taught to, like, hold other people with a lot of care, and that that’s more is part of what helps to create healing. But we don’t turn it towards ourselves, and so to really slow down and think about, are you holding yourself with as much care as you’re holding your clients, and if not, what do you need to do that? Because we can’t be effective with the people that we’re serving, if we’re not doing that for ourselves.

55:07 Bradley
I like that reminder. I would also extend that to just every human being. Are you taking care of yourself as well and being cognizant of what your needs are and then be transparent with those needs with your partners and your friends as well. So, Roxy, thanks again for taking the time out of your schedule to be on this podcast. I really appreciate you sharing your journey and your advice.

55:30 Roxy
Thank you so much for having me. This was a really fun conversation.

Scroll to Top