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Out of the Fire: Healing Black Trauma Caused by Systemic Racism Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
Jennifer Shepard Payne, PhD, LCSW | Foreword by Robyn D. Walser, PhD
New Harbinger / Softcover / Dec 2022
9781684039883 (ISBN-10: 1684039886)
Discrimination & Racism / ACT - Acceptance & Commitment Therapy
price: $27.95
208 pages
In Stock (Ships within one business day)

Learn to pull yourself out of the fire of pain and live a life of meaning and purpose.

As Black people, we are more likely to face a traumatic experience or suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But being Black is about more than the violence that has been perpetrated against us. It also means living a life of dignity and self-worth. We can pull ourselves out of the fire of painful experiences and gain the psychological flexibility needed to thrive, not just survive. This book will help guide you.

In Out of the Fire, Black clinician and professor, Jennifer Shepard Payne presents culturally tailored acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) skills to help you heal from trauma, so you can live a meaningful life that is in tune with your own values. The ACT approach in this guide is empowering, strength-based, and non-pathologizing. As you read, you will come to understand that your suffering is not a sign of dysfunction, but rather a product of circumstances and your experience. Once you face the pain of trauma head on, you will discover the tools needed to feel whole.

Recovering from trauma in all its forms is something that we desperately need as Black people. Whether you are experiencing mental pain as a result of race-based trauma, or have lived through a personal traumatic experience, this book can help you take the first steps needed to heal and live the life you deserve.


“With Out of the Fire, Jennifer Shepard Payne provides a timely, empirically and spiritually based, and much-needed approach toward understanding and addressing the mental health issues experienced by Black Americans daily. Each chapter provides clarity in understanding through culturally responsive empathy. This research-based text rebukes old paradigms, shares practical and clever points of reflection, while offering nuanced strategies toward healing.”
—Cheryl Fields-Smith, PhD, professor of elementary education at the University of Georgia

“It is the rare scholar and practitioner that integrates research, empathy, warmth, and care together to help communities transform and heal. Jennifer Shepard Payne’s Out of the Fire exemplifies such characteristics. Every therapist, counselor, and counselee should read and learn from Shepard Payne’s skillful guidance in this book to help support healing in the Black community and diaspora. This is a much-needed work.”
—Regina Chow Trammel, PhD, LCSW, professor of social work at Azusa Pacific University, psychotherapist, and author of A Counselor’s Guide to Christian Mindfulness

“In Out of the Fire, Jennifer Shepard Payne provides practical and thoughtfully described tools for developing the skills to thrive after we deal with the trauma of structural and systemic racism. Out of the Fire includes a wealth of stories and examples that helps humanize the challenges we face. Despite being a book about dealing with trauma, Out of the Fire provides asset-based and positive tools to promote healing and well-being.”
—Derek M. Griffith, PhD, founder and codirector of the Racial Justice Institute, and professor of health management and policy at Georgetown University

"Jennifer Shepard Payne provided a rich and detailed explanation of racialized trauma and the strategy for mitigating the effects through acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). This book makes the case for why ACT is a therapy that would appeal to the Black community. Through analogies and stories grounded in research, Out of the Fire will be a game changer for those that care about mental health and well-being, especially in the Black community.”
—Tahira Reid Smith, PhD, cofounder of Black in Engineering

“In Out of the Fire, Jennifer Shepard Payne provides a culturally informed, evidence-based, and highly practical guide to thriving that will be life-changing for generations of African Americans and the mental health professionals who support their healing. She has brilliantly tailored ACT to speak the language and reflect the lived experiences of the African American community!”
—Robyn L. Gobin, PhD, licensed psychologist, associate professor at University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, and coauthor of The Black Woman’s Guide to Overcoming Domestic Violence

“All suffering is not created equal. A powerful and much-needed resource that speaks directly to the unique experiences of Black Americans. Sharing a combination of compelling personal stories, case vignettes, and experiential practices, Jennifer Shepard Payne guides readers to develop the skills necessary to rise from the ashes of systemic oppression, intergenerational trauma, and pain. Out of the Fire is THE guide for learning to thrive with meaning and purpose.”
—Jill Stoddard, PhD, author of Be Mighty, and coauthor of The Big Book of ACT Metaphors

About the Author:

Jennifer Shepard Payne, PhD, LCSW, is founder and owner of DTG Counseling and Consulting, a private practice where she provides acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) counseling and coaching primarily to African Americans of faith suffering from anxiety or trauma. For several years, Payne has been working on culturally tailoring ACT for African American communities, both clinically and via research. She is research faculty with the Kennedy Krieger Center for Child and Family Traumatic Stress, and assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. For more information, visit her website at: She lives in Baltimore, MD.

Afteword author Robyn D. Walser, PhD, is director of TL Consultation and Psychological Services, and codirector of Bay Area Trauma Recovery Clinical Services. She works at the National Center for PTSD, developing and disseminating innovative ways to translate science into practice; and serves as assistant clinical professor in the department of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. As a licensed clinical psychologist, she maintains an international training, consulting, and therapy practice. Walser has authored and coauthored six books: The Heart of ACT, Learning ACT, The Mindful Couple, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for the Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Trauma-Related Problems, and ACT for Clergy and Pastoral Counselors.

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