Prejudice / Discrimination

Prejudice and discrimination may lead to physical, sexual, emotional, and/or mental abuse. Being the victim of prejudice or discrimination can negatively impact a person's emotional well-being and sense of self, especially if they experience prejudice or discrimination on an ongoing basis due to an intrinsic characteristic of who they are as a person. People who are prejudged or discriminated against may develop physical or mental health problems as a result of the discriminatory actions of others.

What Is Prejudice?

Prejudice is defined as a negative prejudgment or assumption made about someone before or without having adequate knowledge to do so with guaranteed accuracy. It is most commonly used in reference to a preconceived judgment toward someone because of social class, gender, race, ethnicity, disability, age, religion, sexual orientation, or other personal traits.

Examples of prejudice include:

  • A person believes all Hispanic people are lazy, but they have never worked with or spent time with any Hispanic people
  • A person considers all people who believe in the Mormon faith to be unintelligent, even though they do not know any information about Mormonism
  • A person thinks less of someone because they "look poor"

What Is Discrimination?

Discrimination is a sociological term referring to treatment taken toward or against an individual of a certain group. In other words, discrimination is an actual behavior toward someone else. Certain types of discrimination are illegal. For example, a woman who is paid less than a man on the basis of her sex alone, even though she does the same job, may be being illegally discriminated against by her employer.

Therapy for Prejudice / Discrimination

Psychotherapy may be helpful in treating the negative mental effects of someone who has been discriminated against or who has been the victim of prejudice. Depression, sadness, and anxiety are associated emotions that may be treated in psychotherapy. Psychotherapy may also be beneficial for someone who has prejudged or discriminated against another. As part of therapy, a person may learn how to overcome stigmas or stereotypes that lead to prejudice and discrimination, how to ask for forgiveness or make restitution, and how to create new relationships with oneself and others.

Case Example of Prejudice

Faisal has been receiving negative comments from his coworkers, and feels less and less comfortable at the office. The hostility frequently undermines his work, and though he likes his job, he thinks that quitting is the only solution. After seeing a therapist, he confronts his coworkers and helps them understand how their comments are ignorant and hurtful. His boss works to ensure a more comfortable office environment, and Faisal is able to feel more confident about who he is, doing better work because of it.


Therapist Resources


Last updated: 07-03-2015

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