Anti-oppression psychotherapy: An emancipatory integration of intersectionality into psychotherapy

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Roberta K. Timothy & Mercedes Umana Garcia


Roberta K. Timothy, PhD, RP, is an Assistant Professor at Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto. She specialises in the areas of intersectionality and ethics in health work, Black health ,transnational Indigenous health, and anti-oppression/anti-colonial approaches to mental health. She has extensive teaching experience in universities, colleges, and in social service organisations and community settings, with expertise in critical health theory and social justice health policy development and implementation. Dr. Timothy prioritises critical and creative approaches to knowledge production that reflect experiences and aspirations of migrant, refugee, African/Black diasporic, and transnational Indigenous communities. Her scholarship contributes to critical race theory by examining how factors such as gender, class, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, transgenerational connections, and historical and contemporary intersectional violence impact African/Black communities’ health, and by centring community resistance through innovative decolonising health practices. Dr. Timothy is also co-founder and consultant at Continuing Healing Consultants where she implements and teaches her intersectional mental health model anti-oppression psychotherapy (AOP). She is an interdisciplinary scholar and health practitioner who is also a political scientist who examines global health and ethics from a critical trauma-informed decolonising framework.

Mercedes Umana Garcia, M.Ed., PhD (ABD), RP, is founder and co-director of Continuing Healing Consultants. Mercedes is an anti-oppression mental health practitioner and researcher with over 25 years of experience in transnational mental health and community development within non-governmental and grass-roots organisations. Currently, Mercedes is a doctoral student at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto in the Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development. Her doctoral work focuses on post-traumatic growth in immigrant, refugee, and non-status men and women living with HIV/AIDS.



This article discusses how, in contrast to the field of social work, anti-oppressive practice has a relatively short history within the field of counselling, psychotherapy, and psychology. The article addresses the limitations in predominant approaches to counselling and psychotherapy and presents anti-oppression psychotherapy (AOP) as a model that integrates an anti-colonial, intersectional perspective. This article provides an overview of the context from which AOP emerges, along with foundational definitions, and a detailed explanation of the principles of the model.


Keywords: anti-oppression, intersectionality, psychotherapy, counselling, decolonising


Address for correspondence:
Roberta K. Timothy