Ethical practice as a couple and family therapist requires a continual process of self-evaluation, particularly because of the inherent power and privilege that therapists hold in the therapeutic relationship. An essential component of self-evaluation is the practice of identifying biases and beliefs that are held regarding very complex intrapersonal and interpersonal processes.

In order to write this paper, watch the documentary film 13th. While you are watching the documentary, you are encouraged to take notes about the thoughts and feelings that come up for you. Content warning: there are graphic and at times violent images depicting sexual assault/rape, physical assault/abuse, and racial trauma throughout the film.

write a reflection paper in which you address the following:

Summarize the key points of the film that you found to be the most impactful.
Explain the influence of mass incarceration and the War on Drugs on substance abuse rates, particularly in BBIPOC communities.
Describe any emotional responses that you had to the content of the film.
Identify any biases or beliefs about addiction, the American Legal System, and addiction prevalence that became apparent for you while watching the film and discuss how these biases or beliefs may potentially present as countertransference when working with certain clients who experience addiction.
Describe how the information that you reviewed will impact your work with diverse populations who are impacted by addiction, particularly BBIPOC clients.

Sample Answer

Sample Answer


Title: The Impact of the Documentary 13th on Ethical Practice in Couple and Family Therapy


As a couple and family therapist, engaging in continual self-evaluation is imperative. This process becomes even more crucial due to the power and privilege therapists possess in therapeutic relationships. Watching the documentary film 13th can provide valuable insights into biases and beliefs that may influence our practice. This paper aims to reflect on the key points of the film, particularly focusing on the influence of mass incarceration and the War on Drugs on substance abuse rates in BBIPOC communities. Additionally, it will explore emotional responses to the content of the film, identify biases or beliefs that emerged, and discuss their potential impact on working with clients experiencing addiction.

Key Points of the Film

The documentary “13th” delves into the intersection of race, justice, and mass incarceration in the United States. It highlights the exploitation of the loophole in the 13th Amendment that allowed for the continuation of slavery through mass incarceration. The film powerfully illustrates how policies like the War on Drugs disproportionately target Black, Brown, Indigenous, and People of Color (BBIPOC) communities, leading to high rates of incarceration and perpetuating systemic racism.

Influence of Mass Incarceration and the War on Drugs on Substance Abuse Rates

Mass incarceration and the War on Drugs have had a significant impact on substance abuse rates, especially within BBIPOC communities. The discriminatory enforcement of drug laws has led to higher rates of incarceration among people of color for non-violent drug offenses compared to their white counterparts. This disproportionate targeting contributes to cycles of poverty, trauma, and substance abuse within marginalized communities.

Emotional Responses to the Content

Watching the documentary evoked a range of emotions, including anger, sadness, and frustration. Witnessing the systemic injustices and racial disparities portrayed in the film highlighted the urgent need for societal change and advocacy for marginalized communities. The stories shared by individuals impacted by mass incarceration and addiction were poignant reminders of the real human toll of these unjust policies.

Identifying Biases and Beliefs

While watching the film, biases and beliefs regarding addiction, the American Legal System, and addiction prevalence became apparent. Acknowledging these biases is crucial as they can manifest as countertransference when working with clients experiencing addiction, particularly BBIPOC individuals. It is essential to challenge these biases and engage in ongoing self-reflection to ensure ethical and culturally responsive practice.

Impact on Work with Diverse Populations

The information gleaned from the documentary will profoundly impact my work with diverse populations affected by addiction, especially BBIPOC clients. Understanding the systemic factors contributing to substance abuse and incarceration rates among marginalized communities will inform a more empathetic and culturally sensitive approach to therapy. It underscores the importance of advocating for social justice and dismantling oppressive systems that perpetuate health disparities.


In conclusion, engaging with challenging and thought-provoking content like the documentary 13th can deepen our understanding of social injustices and their impact on mental health and well-being. By critically examining our biases and beliefs, we can enhance our ethical practice as couple and family therapists working with diverse populations. This reflective process is essential for fostering a therapeutic environment that is inclusive, empowering, and conducive to positive change for our clients.


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