The Positionality Project


The Positionality Project at the South Southwest MHTTC aims to provide resources for the mental health workforce in Region 6 to understand positionality and how it shapes their work. For mental health providers, it is the hope that such understanding can translate to improved quality of care by identifying social positions impacting relationships, impacts of systems and culture, and providing culturally-responsive care. For researchers and advocates, positionality can help identify limitations of our work and expand representation and inclusion within it. Positionality statements may allow for improved community partnership and solidarity across social positions, as individuals build understanding of their biases, privileges, and insider or outsider status.

The Positionality Project Resources

About the Authors

Grace Cruse, BA (she/they)

 I am a white, pansexual woman with living experiences of mental health conditions. My lived experiences have inspired my passion for mental health awareness and advocacy. I believe that positionality in mental health is important because we can use it as a tool to center lived experiences in care and research and advocate for better representation and equity in mental health spheres. I am excited to serve on the Positionality Project as both an author and designer of this project.

Margaret Duvall, MA (any pronouns)

As someone who holds a position of relative privilege in the United States–white, able-bodied, middle-class citizen with access to upward mobility through education–I work on analyzing ways that white supremacy culture shapes knowledge and discipline in the US.  Although I identify as queer and gender fluid, I am generally able to keep these aspects of myself private until it is safe to share them.  I believe an honest reckoning with position and privilege not only creates more just research but fosters humility and solidarity across difference.

Eleanor Longden, PhD (she/her)

I am a white, cis, college-educated woman whose work is strongly influenced by my lived experience of trauma and psychosis. Positionality has been an important means for me to reflect on my own perceptions and privileges, and I believe it has an invaluable role in helping foster more cooperative, collaborative, and person-centred approaches within mental healthcare. Given the impact of solidarity and inclusivity within my personal recovery journey, it has been an honour to collaborate on a project which is seeking to make these frameworks more broadly applicable and accessible across different communities in the future.

Oladunni Oluwoye, PhD (she/her)

 My positionality is shaped by experiences of marginalization as a Black woman and the privilege associated with having a PhD. It is through my own family’s experiences and that of being a Black person in the U.S that informs how I navigate life which includes my work. Work focused on shedding light and addressing inequities. But it is the lived experiences and stories from others that are shared with me that provide me with a better understanding.

Samantha J. Reznik, PhD (she/her)

 As a White Cis Woman with a PhD, I am a person with predominantly privileged social positions whose work focuses on individuals who have more marginalized social positions. I am alert to the potential for harm in my doing this work and reflection on my positionality is critical for me to mitigate such potential harms. My family’s multigenerational legacy of trauma motivates a passion for social justice, and positionality has helped me to collaborate across difference and center lived experience and marginalized perspectives to advance equity.

Mx. Yaffa, AS (they/she)

 As a trans, muslim, autistic, indigenous palestinian, mental health care, equity, and justice are deeply rooted in my survival. Positionality is a critical and essential framework that supports building equity into every sphere.

Additional Resources

Introduction to Positionality

Videos & Online Tutorials 

(18 mins 49 secs) Crenshaw, K. (n.d.). The urgency of intersectionality. TedX. 

Lopez, C., Ravaei, K., Romero, R., & Page, S. (n.d.). Positionality & Research. WI+RE.   

(11 mins 4 secs) Spencer, M. (n.d.). A look at positionalities, identity, intersectionality and privilege of self. Michigan Online.  


Bowell, T. (n.d.). Feminist standpoint theory. Internet encyclopedia of philosophy.  

Brown, B. (2022, February 24). Positionality, intersectionality, and privilege in health professions education & research. MITE MMC Institute for Teaching Excellence.  

Coghlan, D., & Brydon-Miller, M. (Eds.) (2014). The SAGE encyclopedia of action research. (Vols. 1-2). SAGE Publications Ltd,  

Ennser-Kananen, J. (July 8, 2020). Coming to terms with ourselves in our research. Language on the Move.  

Gurr, B., & Kelly, M. (Eds.). (2019). Feminist research in practice. Rowman & Littlefield. 

Holmes, A. G. D. (2020). Researcher positionality--A consideration of its influence and place in qualitative research--A new researcher guide. Shanlax International Journal of Education, 8(4), 1-10.  

Jafar, A. J. (2018). What is positionality and should it be expressed in quantitative studies?. Emergency Medicine Journal, 35(5), 323-324.  

Lesson 1: EDI, positionality and intersecting identities. (n.d.). Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning; University of Calgary.  

Liljenquist, K., & Light, M. (n.d.). Positionality: Locating a Personal and Professional Position.  

Martin, J. P., Desing, R., & Borrego, M. (2022). Positionality statements are just the tip of the iceberg: Moving towards a reflexive process. Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering, 28(4). doi: 10.1615/JWomenMinorScienEng.2022044277 

Audio & Podcasts 

(34 mins 30 secs) Haviland, M., & Deen, N. (n.d.). Collaboratory podcast: Navigating positionality and power.  

Positionality in Mental Health Research and Practice  

Videos & Online Tutorials  

(1 hour 9 mins) Positionality 101: Reflecting on positionality in your research and practice to equity and impact. (n.d.). ASEE | Commission on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.  


Cole, E. R. (2009). Intersectionality and research in psychology. American Psychologist, 64, 170-180. doi:10.1037/a0014564 

Counseling and Development, 30(4), 216-238. 

Gilbert, P., & Stickley, T. (2012). “Wounded Healers”: The role of lived-experience in mental health education and practice. The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, 7(1), 33–41. 

Goldsmith, L. P., et al. (2019). Co-producing randomized controlled trials: How do we work together? Frontiers in Sociology, 4. 

Harley, D.A., Jolivette, K., McCormick, K., & Tice, K. (2002). Race, class, and gender: A constellation of positionalities with implications for counseling. Journal of Multicultural 

Jones, N., Atterbury, K., Byrne, L., Carras, M., Brown, M., & Phalen, P. (2021). Lived experience, research leadership, and the transformation of mental health services: Building a researcher pipeline. Psychiatric Services, 72(5), 591–593. 

Johnston, M. S. (2019). When madness meets madness: Insider reflections on doing mental health research. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 18, 160940691983535. 

Kok, M. (2018). GUIDANCE DOCUMENT: Evaluating public involvement in research . University of the West of England (UWE) Bristol; People in Health West of England. 

Mallinckrodt, B., Miles, J. R., & Levy, J. J. (2014). The Scientist-Practitioner-Advocate Model: Addressing contemporary training needs for social justice advocacy. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 8, 303-311. doi:10.1037/tep0000045  

Moradi, B., & Grzanka, P. R. (2017). Using intersectionality responsibly: Toward critical epistemology, structural analysis, and social justice activism. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 64, 500-513. doi:10.1037/cou0000203 

Muhammad, M., et al. (2015). Reflections on researcher identity and power: The impact of positionality on community based participatory research (CBPR) processes and outcomes. Critical Sociology, 41(7–8), 1045–1063. 

Pinfold, V., et al. (2015). Co-production in mental health research: Reflections from the People Study. Mental Health Review Journal, 20(4), 220–231. 

Roberts, S. O., et al. (2020). Racial inequality in psychological research: Trends of the past and recommendations for the future. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 15(6), 1295–1309. 

Roper, C., Grey, F., & Cadogan, E. (2018). Co-production: Putting principles into practice in mental health contexts. 

Secules, S., et al. (2021). Positionality practices and dimensions of impact on equity research: A collaborative inquiry and call to the community. Journal of Engineering Education, 110(1), 19–43. 

Shaw, R. M., Howe, J., Beazer, J., & Carr, T. (2020). Ethics and positionality in qualitative research with vulnerable and marginal groups. Qualitative Research, 20(3), 277–293. 

Tien, J. (2019). Teaching identity vs. positionality: Dilemmas in social justice education. Curriculum Inquiry, 49(5), 526–550. 

Vera, E.M., & Speight, S. L. (2003). Multicultural competence, social justice, and counseling psychology: Expanding our roles. The Counseling Psychologist, 31(3), 253-272.  

Audio & Podcasts 

(58 mins 40 secs) Anderson, E., & Peña-Guzmán, D. (2023). Overthink podcast: Lived Experience (74). 

Positionality in Action 

Videos & Online Tutorials 

Research guides: Learn & unlearn: Anti-racism resource guide: Foundations. (n.d.). The School of the Art Institute of Chicago Multicultural Affairs. 

(16 mins 28 secs) Steltenpohl, C. N. (2022, July 28). Positionality statements part one: Getting started. Cambridge University Press. 


Curran, M., & Randall, A. K. (n.d.). Positionality Statements. 

Derry, M. (2017, January 9). Writing strategies: What’s your positionality? The Weingarten Blog. 

Duvall, S., Epting, K., & Isaac, M. (n.d.). ECF Sophomore Seminar Assignment: Positionality Statements. 

Hamby, S. (2018). Know thyself: How to write a reflexivity statement. Psychology Today. 

Lacy, M. (2019, December 10). Just tell me what I need to know: Reflexivity and positionality statements. Medium. 

Audio & Podcasts 

Raghuveera , N., & Licht, E. (n.d.). Untying Knots podcast.  

Related Learning


2021 Equity Challenge Day 3: What is Privilege? (n.d.). United Way for Southeastern Michigan.  


Equity vs. Equality: What’s the Difference? (2020, November 5). GW | Online Public Health; Milken Institute School of Public Health | The George Washington University.  

Lens of systemic oppression. National Equity Project. (n.d.).   

Kang, M., Lessard, D., Heston, L., & Nordmarken, S. (2017). Social constructionism. In Introduction to women, gender, sexuality studies. University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.  

Kearney, D. B. (n.d.). 4.2: Positionality and Intersectionality. In Universal Design for Learning (UDL) for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA). essay.   


Harvard has created the Implicit Association Test (IAT) that “measures attitudes and beliefs that people may be unwilling or unable to report.” 

Project Implicit. (n.d.).  

View this identity wheel to get started in thinking about which positions you hold. 

United Way for Southeastern Michigan. (n.d.). Social Identity Wheel. 


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