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Are you conscious of your unconscious bias? Workshop on Unconscious Bias and Emotional Resilience – 20th Jan 18 – http://ow.ly/zSk730gTbOk

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Hope and Trepidation: Musings on the 2017 BAATN Conference

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Written by Conference Delegate

So, this was about the third conference that I had been reading about and yet not booked a place. I thought long and hard about why I did this. Me, an older Asian female, fairly recently retrained after a career, motherhood and lots in between. What was making me check the BAATN website, reading what each conference was going to be about and yet not booking. I think I booked two days before the conference.

Why aren’t our individual and collective experiences thought about by everyone? No really! WHY?

My therapeutic journey, including training, therapy and many hours of wondering have resulted in me having, of late, numerous questions leading to fewer answers leading to more questions about identity. I wondered whether by placing ourselves in a ‘Black and Asian’ group was a form of self-oppression. Why aren’t our individual and collective experiences thought about by everyone? No really! WHY?

I remember in my teens and early 20s identifying as black. It was a political statement. I’m not sure when I went from black to being Asian and possibly even brown (and what shade of brown bearing in mind the Shadism conference). I’m not terribly clear how I currently identify myself. There are labels that I attribute to myself and then find that they are distorted by others and therefore, no longer apply. And then there are the labels that others attribute to me which anger and dismay me.

I arrived with hope and trepidation, uncertain where I would fit in, where I would sit, how would I manage during lunch and breaks. And then, the workshops that I had heard about. Whooaah! I needed a little sit down. As I entered the community centre, it was already buzzing; people registering and a few familiar faces. Wow, so little had happened and yet so much was going on in my head. I don’t imagine I was alone in that.

As I took a ‘tentative but courageous’ (LOL! I heard my children saying!) step and spoke to a couple of familiar faces, I saw mirrored my own anxieties and then some. The miseries of the school playground came a calling. My grown-up, practical self thought, “I must make an effort to speak to those I don’t know”. And so, I did. And not so surprisingly, there WERE interactions. Some memorable, others not, some nervously stilted, others generous and warm. Not so different from life as I experience it every day.

I ventured into the conference room, gravitating towards my usual place at the back but found myself seated near the front. I wanted to take it all in now that I was there. And I did just that; the richness of the delegates almost visibly carrying their life stories, the discernible connectedness and generosity of spirit, the knowing of wearing traditional dress and vast, enormous, palpable feelings and emotions from across generations.

Dr Begum Maitra’s work with troubled teenagers reminded me that each therapeutic relationship, each story, each experience, each shared moment is unique. That I should never enter a relationship in a position of ‘knowing’ so that I may remain open to thinking and receiving my client.

Hey Mama! Look! I’m doing ok! That’s what I do!

Frank Lowe, the invisible glue of communities, devoting lives to supporting others and enabling futures where the odds predicted the worst.

Arike, the graceful, noble gentleman who was noticeable in the busy room well before he arose to share … his story. ‘Story’ does not do justice to what he shared, words don’t either. But, I hope we did Arike justice by listening with open hearts and allowing ourselves to feel alongside him. The idealistic me wanting to hold onto the notion that perhaps for the briefest moment we carried collectively his burden.

Please Lord, let it be so!

Her primal scream cut straight through to my core and tears flowed… and flowed.

And then there was the force known as CARMEN JOANNE ABLACK. I can’t write it any other way. Her primal scream cut straight through to my core and tears flowed… and flowed. She set me on a course of further wondering, led me to a door that I didn’t know existed. I have my hand on the doorknob and am turning it slowly, full of nervously excited anticipation as to what I will find.

I thought we were done; I was exhausted by the stories I’d heard and felt. But we divided into groups and then it really began. I was familiar with the terms ‘ancestral baggage’ and ‘transgenerational trauma’ but in those next 45 minutes, I lived the stories that the valiant men and women shared. They enabled me to relive my own story. I did not share and have not yet reached that level of courage. But I am grateful to those wonderful, gracious individuals who shared with me that day. I wish that such experiences were part of the National Curriculum or more importantly perhaps, a UK Citizenship Test that everyone should take.

Eugene, is booking open for next year’s conference?

Until I find the courage to be seen, I will sign off as:

Insaan (noun, human, Urdu)

An important intersectional Issue for Black and Asian LGBTQA people

Dominic Davies, founder of Pink Therapy, and BAATN leadership team member Kris Black whist working on the UKCP’s Diversity, Equality and Social Responsibility Committee have been working hard on a Memorandum of Understanding that is not fully complete yet but there has been progress. BAATN stands in solidarity.

Dominic has said the following:

Major UK healthcare organisations have united to write a statement firmly against Conversion Therapy. The following organisations have signed the statement:

The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy
The British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies
The British Psychoanalytic Council
The British Psychological Society
The College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists
GLADD – The Association of LGBT Doctors and Dentists
The National Counselling Society
National Health Service Scotland
Pink Therapy
The Royal College of General Practitioners
The Scottish Government
Stonewall
The UK Council for Psychotherapy.

Major UK organisations have been working against Conversion Therapy for a number of years, publishing a Memorandum of Understanding against the practice (2015) and updating the document to warn against conversion therapy in relation to gender identity and sexual orientation (including asexuality).

Aware of concerns regarding the future of Conversion Therapy in the USA, and pleased that Malta has banned the practice and that Taiwan has drafted legislation to ban the practice, we are publicising the following statement in solidarity with like- minded healthcare organisations in the USA.

“We the undersigned UK organisations wish to state that the practice of conversion therapy has no place in the modern world. It is unethical and harmful and not supported by evidence.

Conversion Therapy is the term for therapy that assumes certain sexual orientations or gender identities are inferior to others, and seeks to change or suppress them on that basis.

Sexual orientations and gender identities are not mental health disorders, although exclusion, stigma and prejudice may precipitate mental health issues for any person subjected to these abuses. Anyone accessing therapeutic help should be able to do so without fear of judgement or the threat of being pressured to change a fundamental aspect of who they are.”

Janet Weisz, Chair of the Memorandum of Understanding group, and Chief Executive of the UK Council for Psychotherapy, said:
“We have always been clear that sexual orientation and gender identities are not mental health disorders. Any therapy that claims to change these is not only unethical but it’s also potentially harmful.

“Therefore, this practice has no place in the modern psychotherapy profession. The public must know that they can access therapeutic help without fear of judgment.

“It is great to see so many parts of the psychological and medical profession both in the UK and abroad uniting on this key issue.”

Helen Morgan, Chair of the British Psychoanalytic Council, said:
“Forcing a particular view or prejudice upon a patient has no place in therapy and all competent therapists will implicitly understand and appreciate this.

“Psychotherapy aims to liberate people so they can live fuller, more meaningful and more satisfying lives – and patients meeting a psychotherapist should be able to assume that this is always the case in therapy.

“I am pleased to support moves against conversion therapy and I would urge professional colleagues – wherever they may be – to do the same.”

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said:
“The Royal College of General Practitioners is proud to support this statement. As medical professionals, we are highly trained to treat our patients regardless of their sexual orientation – not because of it.

“Being gay or trans is not a disease, it is not a mental illness and it doesn’t need a cure. Any proclamations to the contrary risk causing harm to our gay and trans patients’ physical and mental health and wellbeing, as well as perpetuating discrimination in society.”

Peter Kinderman, President of the British Psychological Society, said:
British Psychological Society is very proud to endorse, support, and stand by this statement. I am proud to live in a country that is able to celebrate the full range of loving human relationships and to offer each one of us equality under the law. Many of us have experienced a great deal of persecution and discrimination as a result of our sexual orientation, and our role must be to combat such prejudice, not to add to it. When people are distressed, for whatever reason, we have a duty to reach out and help. But that must not entail regarding our sexual orientation as any form of pathology. I am very happy to be a party to this statement, and I hope it goes some way to contribution to a more caring and equitable society.”

Dr Andrew Reeves, Chair of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, said:
“BACP strongly believes that anyone seeking therapeutic help, regardless of their gender and sexual diversity, should have access to unbiased and informed therapists who provide ethically skilled therapy. We agree that there is no place in our society for conversion therapy, which is unethical, harmful and not supported by evidence.”

I’m pleased we’ve managed to make this statement. I’m saddened we’re not yet at the point of producing the more inclusive MoU2 but I do believe we’re not too far off it. There is a story there, but I’m not currently at liberty to discuss it!

All too often those of us working with Gender Sexuality and Relationship Diverse (GSRD) clients hear about poor practice from other therapists. Social Media and the consulting rooms of my colleagues who work a lot in this area is replete with the lived experience of GSRD people who have been encouraged by their therapists to assimilate into the heternormative, cisnormative majority rather than having their identities recognised and understood.

It seems that it’s still not acceptable in modern Britain to be bisexual, asexual or have a non-binary identity. This is not good enough and I am pleased that there are people concerned about this issue to sit around a table and address it. I have hopes that in the not too distant future, therapy training courses WILL be training therapists to know how to respond to clients who come from GSRD backgrounds.

Dominic Davies
16 January 2017

Trump vs Hillary or Trump vs Obama?

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“This whole effort from Trump is to erase Obama, that’s what’s really going on here. They are trying to erase him as an entity”

Bonnie Greer

I went to see ‘The Hotel Cerise’ a play written by Bonnie Greer, and afterwards attended a discussion of the themes within the play involving Bonnie and the rest of the cast. This play was so much more than an adaptation of a Chekhov play that it was billed as.

The play came about when Bonnie was making a radio piece about African-Americans in World War II and she met this black woman, an older lady, who said “we didn’t worry about segregation in those days because we had enough money so that we didn’t have white people around at all. We didn’t have to get on the buses, we didn’t have to do anything”. Bonnie was intrigued by this class of black people who were insulated from segregation and racism and wanted to put that story on stage.

In the post play discussions it was noted that there were a couple of African-American estates which African-Americans built so that they didn’t have to worry about segregation. There was something called the ‘Chitlin Circuit’ which was a collective term for venues throughout the eastern, southern, and upper midwest areas of the United States that were safe and acceptable for African American musicians, comedians, and other entertainers to stay and perform in during the era of racial segregation. Performers like Ella Fitzgerald, Betty Smith and Louis Armstrong couldn’t go to a white hotel to stay so places like the Hotel in this play, the Hotel Cerise, offered them what they used to call ‘a vacation without aggravation’ so they didn’t have to worry about racism whilst they were on the road.

The family in the Hotel Cerise,  the Mountjoys, were given money by their white ancestors so they were able to build a Chitlin Circuit refuge. The play is set in modern times where the Hotel still exists but times are a changing with new blood coming with new ideas. Bonnie wanted the audience to think about how skin colour is such a drama in the United States, that you can’t think about anything else, you can’t get to think about nuance. She wanted to get through the door of skin colour to find human beings. She simply wanted to start with characters as human beings and end with human beings.

Of note on the stage, on the mantelpiece, was a picture of Obama. Bonnie talked about Obama and how two terms are not enough for him to do what he needs to do to overcome some of the fear associated with the black other. Bonnie believed that Hillary Clinton will be an extension of the Obama administration, Obama’s third term. That’s why they (The Trump campaign and others) are trying to stop her. This whole effort from Trump is to erase Obama, that’s what’s really going on here. They are trying to erase him as an entity. She noted that the killings of black men in America that has sparked the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement is a re-enactment of this and part of erasing Obama’s legacy. Bonnie went on to say that when Trump becomes president all of Obama’s acts will be undone, he will become a footnote and a mistake in the history of the United States and that’s the gameplay. She also said it’s important that Hillary gets into the Whitehouse so that doesn’t happen and that’s why the Obamas are campaigning so hard for Hillary right now too.

I’m going to take it one step further and suggest that Trump has studied racial politics and understands that, given there has been a two-term Obama  administration, he can play on the fears, anxieties and paranoias of the white working class to gain some leveraged in the race to the White House. He claims that the media are against him and are blocking his voice getting out there, he claims that social media, Facebook, Twitter are suppressing the establishment misdeeds and he says that he will refuse to accept the legitimacy of the election if it doesn’t go his way. This is the paranoid narrative of a certain section of the white population that believe their rank as the dominant group has been usurped by other nonwhite groups and that their needs and wishes are being given second place, where it was once given first.

As one of the audience members noted “in America skin colour is always the first dynamic and skin colour determines your destiny”.

There’s an awful lot at stake in terms of race politics in this upcoming US election, that’s for sure.

Eugene

Channel 4 News – Identity

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Black people in the UK are more likely to be admitted to hospital for mental illness – they are also less likely to use mainstream services.

Can connecting black therapists with black patients change that?

Watch the video

 

 

Help nurture Black and Asian psychological therapists through their training: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/student-support/?

I took part in a short video for Channel 4’s Facebook news page, identity section. There were a few of us talking about the benefits there might be in black people seeing black therapists and counsellors.

Seemed a straightforward deal to me but reading the posts in response to the video it sounded like there were lots of people feeling uncomfortable about this race conversation.

Guess which of these post is not from a white person?

a) I’m so confused.. is this racist!?

b) I would be very offended as a health professional if someone declined to be seen by me because of the colour of my skin. Equally it’s not something I would think of when seeing a professional. I’m more interested in your knowledge skills and experience that can help me. Just saying

c) It’s about making a connection with another person, and sincerity and all the other qualities that make us decent human beings, it’s not about the colour of a person’s skin, or their ethnic background, or any of those things, which have no bearing on someone’s ability to do their job well !

d) As a Hairstylist whose had many therapists and Counsellors sit in my chair over a 20 year span, I totally agree with this message.. The job doesn’t make the person more understanding or empathetic to another person’s culture.. I can’t tell you how many therapist are on prescription meds themselves and are very biased.. It’s been such an agenda for so long in so many other environments to continue the degradation, media messaging, everything that I agree to have someone Ethnic.. It’s safe.. It’s sad to think this way however, I’ve heard some ish over the years.. The very fact that we have police brutality and a racist dude who got nominated to run for president should be proof enough to choose who you intimately share the details of your life with..

If you guessed d) you had the right answer. It sounded like some of these posts were from therapists too. Very worrying!

This reminds me of what Robin D’Angelo, a white racial justice educator in the states, calls ‘entitlement to race comfort’. In the dominant position, whites are almost always racially comfortable and have developed unchallenged expectations to remain so. When racial discomfort arises, white people typically respond as if something is “wrong” and blame the person or event that triggered the discomfort (usually a person of colour but not always). This blame results in a socially-sanctioned array of responses towards the perceived source of the discomfort, in this instance denial…

Find out more from Dr D’Angelo. Why It’s So Hard to Talk to White People About Racism

Help nurture Black and Asian psychological therapists through their training: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/student-support/?