• Black Identities + White Therapies: Race, respect + diversity

Black Identities + White Therapies: Race, respect + diversity

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ISBN 9781910919897
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This vibrant new book springs from the continued failure of the counselling and psychotherapy profession to adequately prepare trainees to meet the needs of today’s multi-ethnic, multiracial and multicultural society. The editors, both highly experienced trainers and academics, have gathered together here a group of new and established writers who draw on personal and professional experiences to present an array of fresh ideas and approaches. Their aim is to inform training curricula that would more adequately prepare therapy students to respond sensitively and in culturally appropriate ways to clients of diverse cultural and racial identities.

Each chapter presents a challenge to all therapeutic practitioners, whatever their specialist role, to attend to and reflect on their personal and professional attitudes and behaviours in relation to clients of all heritages and origins. Issues addressed include unconscious privilege, ‘othering’, micro-aggressions, broaching, racism, discrimination, the search for meaning, identity complexity, intersectional understanding, heritage, biases and projections, trauma, intergenerational trauma, introjections, projection and decolonisation of the curriculum.

This book is a wake-up call to the profession to develop more inclusive models of theory and practice, and to every counsellor, psychotherapist and counselling psychologist to review their professional practice and ensure a better fit between the aspirations and theories of their professional calling and the needs of our multi-ethnic, multiracial and multicultural society today.


1. Race, culture and ethnicity: A systemic failure of attention in the psychotherapy profession? – Colin Lago and Divine Charura

2. The cultural complexity of training counsellors abroad: the case of Afghanistan. – Lucia Berdondini, Ali Ahmad Kaveh and Sandra Grieve

3. Can you talk about race without going pink or feeling uncomfortable? – Delroy Hall

4. Exploring the racial self in counselling training – Billie-Claire Wright

5. An anti-racist counselling training model – Courtland C. Lee 

6. ‘Look in the mirror... and just below the surface’: critical reflection, personal stories and training implications – Val Watson

7. Where are you from? The effects of racism and perceived discrimination on people of colour – Priscilla Dass-Brailsford

8. Re-imagining the space and context for a therapeutic curriculum: a sketch – Robert Downes and Foluke Taylor

9. Twin Tribes: Exploring unconscious privilege and otherness in counselling and psychotherapy – Dr Dwight Turner

10. Lifting the white veil of therapy – Neelam Zahid

11. The legacy of colonial history and the ongoing challenge to therapist training and practice – Vedia Maharaj

12. Towards the re-emergence of meaning: Existential contributions to working with refugee clients – Benjamin Mark Butler

13. Who is transforming what? Ideas and reflections on training, practice and supervision in radical mode – Carmen Joanne Ablack

14.  Negotiating the Faustian pact: A psycho-social approach to working with mixed-race people – Yvon Guest

15. Developing a diversity-sensitive psychoanalytic and psychodynamic psychotherapy: Personal and professional reflections – Lennox K. Thomas

16. Colour blindness as microaggression: Perspectives on race and ethnicity in counselling and psychotherapy training and practice – Mark Williams

17. Towards a decolonised psychotherapy research and practice – Divine Charura and Colin Lago

18. Religion, therapy and mental health treatment in diverse communities: Some critical reflections and radical propositions – Rachel-Rose Burrell

19. Race and cognitive dissonance: Could supervision be a way of connecting tutors to students? – Fiona A. Beckford


This book speaks of the profound need to address the shortcoming of racial competency in therapeutic training and professional practice. It represents both a call and an opportunity to challenge the profession on its lack of awareness and inclusion.  It offers contributions from Black, brown and people of colour, providing a range of thinking on race and ensuring this remains a fundamental element of professional practice.  It offers us the opportunity to change, to progress, to recognise the vast gaps in our knowledge and to become anti-racist and fit for purpose.  Integral to this book is a recognition of the role of intersectionality and how the lived experience is reflected in complex identities.  This insightful book will hold its value and usefulness long after the first read, reminding us to challenge exclusion, reflect on our practice and address our own positions of power and privilege. 

Susan Cousins, author of Overcoming Everyday Racism

Divine Charura and Colin Lago have brought together many of the leading thinkers and practitioners in multicultural counselling to review how we prepare ourselves to work with racial difference. The truth is that for many of us, this is the uncomfortable territory of power and privilege, of unsettling lack of knowledge and experience. As counsellors, we may limit our authenticity through fear of offending. As tutors, we may lack the sure-footedness to lead our students into this difficult terrain. This must change. In this book are rich resources and practical suggestions that will support and challenge us to open our minds and embrace multicultural ways of thinking and working. In our multicultural world, how can we not?

Janet Tolan, counsellor/psychotherapist, supervisor, tutor and author

This impressive book makes a major contribution to theory and practice in an area that has been ignored or neglected for far too long. It considers this systemic failure as well as suggesting ways forward for the profession. It does this in a knowledgeable, engaging and helpful manner. Issues of racism, colonialism and privilege are discussed at the macro and micro level. A wealth of experience, diverse trainings and experiences as counsellors/therapists and a multiplicity of helpful perspectives are presented. This book has the potential to expand theory and practice in a range of ways. It will encourage debate, critical review and consideration of some long-held assumptions and contribute to ensuring that Black lives do matter in counselling and training. The book is packed full of information presented in a clear, accessible and informative manner. It should be on the bookshelf of every training institution and counsellor.

Rachel Tribe is a chartered counselling and occupational psychologist and professor of applied psychology at the University of East London and Queen Mary, University of London

This book carries a bold message that revolves around one word, ‘change’. The unique contribution of each author lies in the variety of practical, innovative, experiential and imaginative ways they offer, based on their own research and practice, to meet the varying needs of racially and ethnically different clients. The authors invite therapists, trainers and supervisors alike to reflect and question their practice critically, examine the roots of their values and beliefs and, most importantly, learn and unlearn continually to change their way of working. This exceptionally good book will be inspirational and beneficial to both new and experienced practitioners in the field of psychotherapy, a useful guide for individual therapists and a tremendous resource for trainers.

Shukla Dhingra, counsellor, supervisor and trainer

Black Identities + White Therapies speaks to the urgency of addressing the impact of racism when training counsellors and psychotherapists. Those who are racially marginalised are already over-represented as patients in the mental health system but under-represented as clients in counseling and psychotherapy. Racially marginalised communities have borne the brunt of the Covid pandemic. If the profession is to have any hope of meeting the needs of those who are grieving and suffering long-term illness, burn-out and severe economic stress, on top of the psychological stress that results from living in a hostile atmosphere, we need to knuckle down and do the work now. The book ends with a research paper on what that emotional work is for white trainers, and an elegant and practical solution to the problem of how they might be supported to do it. This book could not be more timely.

Rose Cameron, author of Working with Difference and Diversity in Counselling and Psychotherapy

What an emotive and thought-provoking read! The authors are unapologetic in their call for accountability, challenging colour-blindness, highlighting implications for therapists, trainers/trainees, supervisors and therapy organisations. We agree with the contributors that it would be grossly negligent for us not to critically explore issues of identity, oppression and race in all therapeutic relationships. These explorations call upon us to continually consider how we are with our own and others’ identities, and what this means personally, interpersonally and structurally. The authors give us guidance on how we might validate experiential realities as we work towards inclusive models of practice. Their guidance is peppered with examples and references that resonate on a personal and professional level while attempting to de-colonise and dismantle hierarchies with the turn of each page. The sensitive facilitation of these necessary conversations makes this book essential reading for practitioners. We certainly hear their call and endeavour to continue to ‘grow our edges’.

Kerese Collins, lecturer (counselling & psychotherapy), Keele University, and co-host of ‘My Wife is a Therapist’ podcast; Sally Chisholm, lecturer (counselling & psychotherapy), Keele University, and tutor, Metanoia Institute 

Yet another splendid book jointly edited by Divine Charura and Colin Lago and demanding not just a place on our bookshelves, but nothing less than the undivided attention of the therapeutic community. This book is testimony to the harm caused by the failure of therapeutic professions to adequately address the complexities of encounter with diversity in more than theoretical terms. Particularly those of us who are trainers have the option of jealously guarding our current mode of teaching or hearing the call of this book to think more broadly and act more creatively. Collectively, the contributors provide insight and encouragement to face uncomfortable encounters and difficult conversations in order to traverse a bumpy but promising terrain and also facilitate a more relevant training environment. The passion and commitment to the issues of diversity in ethnicity, culture and race in this collection of writing is an inspiration to us all.

Andrea Uphoff, primary tutor, Metanoia Institute

Divine Charura

Divine Charura is professor of counselling psychology and programme director for the doctorate in counselling psychology at York St John University. He is a chartered counselling psychologist and registered psychotherapist and has co-authored and edited numerous books in counselling and psychotherapy. His two latest co-edited books are Love and Therapy: In relationship (with Stephen Paul) and The Person-Centred Counselling and Psychotherapy Handbook: Origins, developments and current applications (with Colin Lago). Divine is a lover of photography, art, music and outdoor pursuits. 

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Divine Charura

Colin Lago

Colin Lago was Director of the University of Sheffield’s counselling service from 1987 to 2003 and now works as an independent counsellor/psychotherapist, trainer, supervisor and consultant. He is a Fellow of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. He has published numerous articles, videos and books on transcultural concerns and psychotherapy. His books include Race, Culture and Counselling: The ongoing challenge; Anti-Discriminatory Practice in Counselling and Psychotherapy (co-edited with Barbara Smith); The Handbook of Transcultural Counselling and Psychotherapy and The Person Centred Counselling and Psychotherapy Handbook: Origins, developments and current applications (co-edited with Divine Charura). His passions include mountain travel, biking, swing dancing and art.

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Colin Lago