Holly Thompson

Holly Thompson

Country: USA
Organization:University of Illinois Springfield

Short CV

Dr. Holly Thompson is an Associate Professor of Counseling at the University of Illinois Springfield, where she trains and supervises Master’s level counseling students. Holly coordinates the clinical mental health concentration and specializes in group work, multicultural counseling, and has a deep passion for social justice and advocacy work. In addition to teaching at university, Holly has a small psychotherapy practice and especially enjoys working with psychotherapists and other helping professionals who are disenfranchised with the current emphasis on conceptualizing and working from a positivitistic, medical model. Holly loves to travel and experience all things cultural.


Title: Counseling for Inner and Outer Peace: Polyphonic, Slow Listening in a Polarized World

All of life is music and it comes in many forms. We all have songs that we sing to ourselves and with others about who we are and aspire to be, as well as how others are in the world. The modern age is full of a diversity of types and styles of music. Some harmonic and soothing, other musical forms are loud, aggressive, and discordant. In the history of the West, attention has been given predominately to the songs for and about white, straight, Christian, cis-gendered, able-bodied, men. Music has been used to create political unity and consolidate power. In the United States music created by enslaved folks was used to provide support, encouragement, and empowerment through the atrocities of slavery, and the ongoing struggle for civil rights. While there are many musical genres, many do not get equal attention or respect.

Technology, social media, and modern life seemingly offers a lot of promise and space for the exploration of different ideas, yet increasingly people are living in echo chambers that exist in a monophonic simplicity and assert a kind of supremacy. Currently, in the U.S. and around the world, political polarization has been exacerbated by divergent ideas of power, freedom, infringement, and control. If we are to move into a polyphonic way of being together, it is necessary to find understanding of the historical contexts that are alive in present day. Implementing Roger’s core conditions and an existential-humanistic conceptual framework, the workshop will focus on relevant U.S. and global history to find empathy and understanding for those on the political left and political right. Further, we will engage in some experiential exercises that allow space for slowing and increasing attunement and awareness of ourselves in relationship with others. To create change in the world and heal the deep wounds that exist because of colonization, white supremacy, and slavery, it is imperative to assist ourselves and our clients to listen deeply and hold understanding and empathy. Together, we will explore therapeutic possibilities.