• Therapists challenging racism and oppression: The unheard voices

Therapists challenging racism and oppression: The unheard voices

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ISBN 9781915220295
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This is a book about racism and its intersections with other forms of oppression within the talking therapies, told from the therapist’s perspective. Inside are powerful, first-person accounts of the often traumatising silencing of counsellors of colour within, and by, their own profession. These are searingly honest and rarely detailed stories of practitioners being shamed, excluded, violated, rendered invisible and deeply wounded by their experiences in training and in practice. But they are also stories of strength, courage, resourcefulness and growth. Some therapists may find deep recognition and affirmation in these accounts, as well as hope and healing. Others may better understand how their own fragility and bias have led them to similar behaviours and harmful mistakes. The book compellingly captures the nuances and fractures of racial and intersectional trauma and illustrates many of the damaging ways that conscious and unconscious ideas of race, and other aspects of personhood, are still woven into society. This is an essential read that brings together personal, psychological, societal and political insights to better imagine and further the discourse around what might facilitate meaningful change.

Foreword – Dwight Turner


1. What’s in a name? Why names matter for people of colour – Neelam Zahid             

2. Cultivating intersectional nuance within the dissociative confines of capitalism – Rachel Cooke             

3. Attending to self, attending to others: Racial trauma in the therapy room – Ohemaa Nkansa-Dwamena   

4. Call me by my name – Anita Gaspar              

5. A need for deep learning, not training – Joanna Traynor                

6. Racism and coercive control in an NHS-funded service – Anya Amrith and Roshmi Lovatt                    

7. Confronting the colonial history of transphobia – Sam Hope                   

8. (Inter)racial transference: A case of projective identification – Jaspreet Tehara                     

9.  Diunital healing: My journey home – a multi-dimensional approach to therapy – Oye Agoro                   

10. My journey to visibility: Using congruence to explore racial microaggressions within the supervisory relationship – Rajita Rajeshwar

This thoughtful and reflective, intersectional book shares vulnerability and visceral experiences. A courageous, tangible plethora of voices previously hidden embody and analyse experiences that highlight the duality of being inside identity while in training and practice. This is a bold contribution that addresses resistance and liberation, freeing who we really are. Secrets are revealed and transparency and collective catharsis open wide systems of oppression. Silence about traumatic learning is broken to expose the rawness of racism. Decolonising and a breakthrough in personal, political and psychological aspects of therapeutic connection are encouraged. The authors question power relationships and hierarchies, racial dynamics and shaming in the field of counselling and psychotherapy. Most importantly, the book offers recommendations for safeguarding people of colour in the professions and institutional, personal and professional justification for more ethical training, practice and supervision.
Dr Isha Mckenzie-Mavinga, psychotherapist, lecturer and author of Black Issues in the Therapeutic Process and The Challenge of Racism in Therapeutic Practice

Here is a book that is both timely and a treasure trove, full of lived experiences of therapists of colour in practice and training. Its chapters prompt reflections about anti-racist practices in the face of everyday experiences of racism that many black, brown and people of colour encounter in their training and, sadly, throughout working life. The editors and writers bravely and boldly speak truth to power and call powerfully for change to challenge the ongoing performative allyship across settings. This book generates necessary thinking about ant-racist practices and the importance of decolonising therapy, so it becomes truly inclusive and safe for all. 
Anthea Benjamin, group analyst, supervisor and organisational consultant

How I wish this book was around when I was training to be a therapist. I remember regularly feeling, after sharing my lived experiences of anti-blackness, difference and homophobia to others at this time, that they were being downplayed, discounted, gaslighted or ignored. Now I have a collection of fearless, incisive, forensic and necessary writing that proves that my feelings and thoughts are valid. I highly recommend this book to all students, clients, practitioners and supervisors who are committed to making their work, trainings, organisations and practice more robust and fit for purpose for life in 21st century UK.
Dennis Carney, therapist, facilitator, trainer and member of BAATN Leadership Team

Therapists Challenging Racism and Oppression: The unheard voices is bold, passionate, clear and unapologetic in its challenge to oppression. It marks another historical turning point in the evolution and decolonisation of the psychotherapeutic profession. With each chapter illuminating lived experiences of racism, oppression or trauma through the authors’ personal stories in the therapeutic realm, the book inevitably takes a critical yet necessary stance. I found it gripping but also very painful to read. I have struggled to write praise for it not because I don’t think its brilliant but because the very fact that such a book needs to be published speaks to the pain of many (as well as my own). I wish things were different and that we didn’t need this book. But make no mistake – these voices will not remain unheard! The book’s value is not confined to just therapists interested in anti-oppressive and anti-racist practice within the profession. Rather, it speaks to all those committed to upholding the values of equality, social justice and human rights and combating both conscious and unconscious racial discrimination at a personal and a professional level.
Divine Charura, Professor of Counselling Psychology, York St John University

This brave book boldly calls on us to summon the courage to speak out for ourselves as therapists and for our clients who suffer under oppression. Each contribution serves as a reminder that oppression is a global issue that affects the majority, and that it is imperative for us to respond holistically as therapists to a system that impacts nations, societies, and humanity as a whole. The book disrupts and unsettles the reader, encouraging us to collaborate outside of therapy through peer dialogue, advocacy, and allyship. And without explicitly stating so, it inspires our clients to become active citizens and change agents.
If the writers are suggesting that authentic, empathic dialogue, guided by deep acceptance and a thirst for knowledge, is the key to defeating the systems of oppression, then we must take the necessary risks and engage in meaningful dialogues within our profession about race, racial difference, and intersectionality. This is essential for our personal growth as therapists and for the betterment of society as a whole.
Rotimi Akinsete, therapeutic counsellor, clinical supervisor, training & organisational development consultant and mentor

These ‘unheard voices’ constellate a healing well from which readers can draw nourishment in the face of what ails when systemic oppressions intersect. Interwoven personal and professional reflections enable practitioners, trainees, training institutions, assessors and 
professional bodies to deepen dialogue and inform action in the cultivation of a therapeutic craft that robustly engages with social justice. Rather than offering performative, surface-level, dogmatic offerings about doing and saying ‘the right thing’, these authors courageously foreground the messiness and often-unresolved nature of meaning-making within psychotherapeutic discourse. Readers are invited to engage with rich opportunities for transformation that are evoked through supposed mistakes, rupture and repair, relationally and systematically. From the realms of silence, each reflexive chapter provides much-needed language to articulate unconscious, somatised states, re-imagining and renewing practice. Relevant, relatable and overdue, these unheard voices offer pertinent insight and challenge for troubling times.
Joel Simpson, psychotherapist, writer, presenter and celebrant

Required reading for all counselling professionals, this is a book that speaks from personal, political and psychological perspectives while also making it clear that racism is not a ‘private problem’ but a structural and societal encounter. Exclusion and marginalisation lurk in counselling training, practice and delivery in real-life situations. This is a vital and essential collection of work focusing on the authors’ journeys and the lived stories that provide us with constructive notes to inform our work towards anti-oppressive practice where action is needed. Each chapter focuses on the authors’ journeys, and neatly applies intersectionality as a lens for further examining all systems of oppression and how they operate in the field of counselling and psychology. The authors have provided us with powerful and disturbing descriptions that invite us to delve deeper and challenge previously held beliefs. These are stories we have not heard before, but they are stories we need to hear.
Susan Cousins, author and Senior Advisor, Race, at Cardiff University

Neelam Zahid

Neelam Zahid is an integrative counsellor, psychotherapist and clinical supervisor accredited by the BACP. She has practised as a therapist since 2003, having previously worked in higher education for more than a decade, and currently has her own private practice. She is also the deputy course Leader for the Foundation year at the Minster Centre and teaches on the Introduction to Counselling Skills course. In addition, she is currently a visiting lecturer at the University of Westminster, teaching on the BSc Psychology and Counselling and Introduction to Counselling Skills courses. Her areas of interest are intersectionality, difference and diversity and she has contributed to several publications, including The Handbook of Transcultural Counselling and Psychotherapy (2001) and Black Identities + White Therapies: Race, respect + diversity (2021). 

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Rachel Cooke

Rachel Jane Cooke (she/they) is a queer, integrative psychotherapist, supervisor and educator from Ireland, in practice since 2009. She is based in London, runs an online therapy platform (p-therapy.com), consults to charities and social enterprises, and has a long-standing weekly radio segment on sex and relationships, where she often discusses identity, privilege and oppression. She regularly speaks on podcasts and hosts talks and workshops for the public, for therapists and for organisations on topics such as intersectionality, trauma, attachment, health and wellness under neoliberalism, embodiment, feminist therapy and gender, sexuality and relationship diversity. Rachel is passionate about training therapists committed to social justice, particularly through embodied and relational practice. You can read more about her work at racheljanecooke.com

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