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The therapy community must commit to anti-racist practice

Publication date: June 5, 2020

Anthea Benjamin – Chair of National Diversity – Power, Position and Privilege Working Group at the Institute of Group Analysis and member of the UKCP Ethics Committee within the College for Children and Young People – has written the following statement calling on the therapy community to take action against racism.

Hello All,

I have been sitting with a very heavy heart and mind with regards to recent events in America. I have been left feeling sickened and distressed. I am aware just how re-traumatising it has been for BAME communities to witness yet again another lynching of a black man. I do not in any way want to prioritise my experience of marginalisation, but in many respects my wanting to become a therapist was in order to create a safe space where we could think about the abuse of structural power and the devastating impact of what feels like daily acts of violence.

I am sure you are all aware of the devastating impact of the rhetoric around BAME communities being more susceptible to Covid-19, a rhetoric which, in my view, holds racist undertones that we all need to be mindful of. There have been worldwide protests against globally embedded racism, and this marks a deepening in the consciousness of humanity to face this injustice. It would be a mistake to think that this is not an on-going and debilitating issue in present day Britain. We in the therapy community need to be actively engaging with our own institutions, questioning how we still maintain and comply with a structurally racist society.

I am asking anyone who is willing to take up the mantle to join me in thinking together how we can create change, by pro-actively asking for a new commitment to anti-racist practise in our work across the board, including a commitment to addressing the injustice against BAME communities. Now is the time to reflect more deeply on white privilege in its many guises and to think about how this privilege can be used by all to make change within our spheres of influence. I am currently approaching a number of therapy institutions to make a statement of commitment to anti-racist practise and clarify their position in regards to this horrific event and on-going discrimination faced by the BAME community in the UK. This is a landmark moment where you either speak out or maintain the status quo.

I cannot be silenced any further. Now is the time for action and I hope people will feel called to join with me across modalities to mark this moment. My wish is to create a shift in how therapy institutions and training bodies proactively engage with and respond to issues of power, discrimination and privilege. If you are willing to dream with me and create change please e-mail me at info@antheabenjamin.co.uk.

In Unity

Anthea Benjamin

Chair of National Diversity – Power, Position and Privilege Working Group at the Institute of Group Analysis and member of the Ethics Committee within the College for Children and Young People.

Visit Anthea’s website for more information about her work: www.antheabenjamin.co.uk


The UK Council for Psychotherapy stands in solidarity with the protests against racial injustice taking place across the globe. Read our statement here.

 

Comments

  • Thank you so much for writing this and for being so articulate and inspiring at this challenging time. The Institute for Arts in Therapy and Education are with you in all you have expressed and communicated. Thank you for finding a voice to convey this depth of feeling on behalf of so many people and we are on your team – Margot and Jo

  • vanessa mchardy says:

    I stand with you in not tolerating this silence of this supremacy energy that has infiltrated all aspects of society for so long many of us have been blind to how it served us. As painful as this time is, heartbreakingly so, I can’t help but feel optimistic that things just cannot be allowed to go back to the way they were.

  • Michael Day says:

    Racial discrimination in Britain is the White majority’s problem and it’s our responsibility not just to recognise our own prejudices and act in non discriminatory ways but to be prepared to challenge racially motivated behaviour and comments in others, especially amongst other white people. We should not leave it to members of the BAME community to draw attention to discrimination and prejudice as it affects them. Don’t be a bystander when it comes to disowning offensive and hurtful comments and actions.

  • Gill Doust says:

    I am writing because silence is not an acceptable response. Our predominantly white therapist community (of which I am one) needs to be vocal against racism . I welcome your statement.

  • Thank you Anthea for clearly articulating a way forward for our therapy community to pro-actively address and challenge any injustice against BAME communities. ‘In Unity’ I stand against any globally embedded racism and welcome your statement as a way to committing to non-discriminatory practice in our society. It is no longer acceptable to be silent, now is the time for action and change.

  • We discuss these issues and the responsibility of us as therapists, as well as quoting this article and the UKCP statement on Racial Injustice, in our Podcast here: https://anchor.fm/martin-nicholas/episodes/Ep03-Politics-efh2sa
    Nicholas Rose & Martin Weaver

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