Right now, everyone needs to know George Middleton, MHC, CSAYC. George is a mental health counselor, author, and musician. Over the last few years, he’s written three books, addressing the connection between mental health and the social impact of the race construct. (We’ll go into detail below.) Throughout his career George has been committed to the fields of Mental Health, Mentorship, and Youth. He has spent the last two decades in various positions, ranging from Student Life Counselor, Mentor, Music Instructor, and Mental Health Counselor. All have reinforced the importance and value an adult male's role plays in child development.
Through unique and therapeutically creative methods involving music and arts, George has developed a series of workshops, seminars, and instructional aids that are designed to connect, engage, and challenge today's youth, adults, and families to reevaluate and reassess their thinking; leading to more effective behaviors.
Why is therapy so important for CEOs and senior leaders?
The role of leadership at any level is actually that of serving others. Serving others is oftentimes a thankless position to find oneself in. In that act of service, the challenge is the ability to meet all of the demands and needs of the organization that you have committed yourself to. In all of the daily crises inherent in those responsibilities, who is looking after the leadership’s needs? Even a therapist needs a therapist.
How can therapy help Founders work through employee issues?
The act of listening is the most important tool in one’s box of solutions. It serves a two-fold purpose; 1) the intake of information for an accurate assessment of the problem or situation, and 2) when done effectively it creates a bond of closeness and increased understanding that reduces the levels of stress around the problem, even before a solution has been proposed. Relationships and the quality of them are at the root of all problems and solutions.
What are the characteristics that executives should look for when searching for a therapist?
Credentials and experience are important, however, if there is no chemistry or connection between therapist and client, there may be difficulty in achieving any therapeutic benefit. An effective therapist will create that connection first before attempting any intervention strategies. A client will then be more receptive to the difficulty of challenges and confrontation that are inherent in the therapeutic process.
Why did you decide to become an expert in understanding racism?
I would more accurately describe my role as an expert at deconstruction of the social construct of race. That is what race is, an ideology of superiority and inferiority based on skin color. As a Mental Health professional, it became very apparent the connection between client stressors and difficulties and the systemic practices associated with them i.e. education, financial, law enforcement, judicial, and et cetera.
My work is in direct alignment with the following ethical responsibility in my counseling profession. Social justice in counseling psychology focuses on helping to ensure that opportunities and resources are distributed fairly and helping to ensure equity when resources are distributed unfairly or unequally. This includes actively working to change social institutions, political and economic systems, and governmental structures that perpetuate unfair practices, structures, and policies in terms of accessibility, resource distribution, and human rights.
You've written 3 books about racism? What will readers learn from each book?
Black is a cognitive behavioral examination on the use of color in the race paradigm. Readers will gain increased self awareness of their own racial beliefs about skin color and how that influences their thinking and behavior.
Racism: The Disease and How to Cure It is a clinical approach to the concept of Racism as a mental health issue. The therapeutic components of Diagnosis and intervention strategy are proposed and described in this work.
Can You Be American and a Color Too? Living Outside of Race: Transitioning from Color to Culture is a continuation of previous works in addressing the connection between our collective mental health and race ideology. A cognitive behavioral workbook in learning to deconstruct race from our subconscious beliefs and apply it in our daily lives.
How do you define racism?
Race is an ideology of power based on skin color, a hierarchical system of power distribution for economic purposes.
Race – ism; the suffix ‘ism’ according to the Webster definition is the following:
1: a distinctive doctrine, cause, or theory. 2: an oppressive and especially discriminatory attitude or belief.
Racism is the systemic practice of the ideology of race.
You speak about how organizations should understand if their identity is racial or cultural. What's the difference? Why is it important for people to know?
At this time in our country’s evolution, we are presented a challenge of opportunity. The opportunity is for clarity of identity in “who” America is and what America’s values are. The challenge is the willingness to be honest with ourselves about what we really believe. Race, racist, and racism are terms of chaos at present. We need to bring them to terms of collective clarity. Then make a conscious decision as to whether or not we accept or reject the values, attitudes, and systemic behaviors that result from them. The daily impact of these terms are most experienced in our workplaces, causing significant stress and damage to our physical and mental health. In addition, it impacts productivity, quality, and economics of the work environment.
What do white leaders need to do now to ensure they are creating anti-racist cultures?
First understand that ‘white’ is not who they really are, it is a fictitious label with harmful subconscious impact in their respective environments. Leaders who identify as white must decide to make a conscious decision as to whether or not they want to retain that racial identity, or forgo it for reconnection with their cultural one. The identity of the leader will most certainly have a significant impact on those under the service of that leader. Retaining a racial identity will then require the ‘anti-racist’ strategy. However, forgoing a racial identity will put that leader on the path of a ‘race-free’ strategy. Which of the two strategies is more appealing?
You're a board member and big advocate of the Indy Black Chamber of Commerce (IBCC). Why do companies from all cultural identities need to join and participate in the IBCC?
The IBCC is just like all of the other commerce centered organizations and companies. We have a complete system of businesses, network contacts, and opportunities. Why would anyone want to leave out a whole demographic market of opportunity?
The Startup Ladies under the leadership of Kristen Cooper is one such organization that is an integral and active member of the IBCC. The relationship is synergistic in supporting each other’s missions and goals, an authentic collaboration built on mutual respect and trust.
What's your best piece of advice to help people cope with multiple stressors during the time of Covide-19 and Black Lives Matter?
The way you perceive COVID-19 will be the way you experience it. You can perceive it as a crisis, or as an opportunity. The first choice is overwhelming, the second choice is empowering.
COVID-19 is presenting us with information on how we as a society have been thinking, believing, and behaving. It is revealing the reasons why a whole section of people in our society feel the need to say “Black Lives Matter”, which then triggers for many the mental response of “All lives matter”.
Question for thought as it pertains to the two races Black and White:
Does society and our systems today treat them as if they both equally matter?
Your honest self reflective answer to that question, will determine whether you will be part of the solution, or part of the problem.
This is our opportunity to right the ship and align our beliefs with our stated values. This is not the time to be a bystander, all hands on deck.