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10:00 - 13:00


Online (via Zoom)
United Kingdom

webinar - decolonising psychotherapy

Open to bpf members, practicing psychotherapists and students of psychotherapy


What does it signify that our Training Organisations and our profession as a whole is overwhelmingly made up of people who are white? We have recognised for a long time that this is the case and that our organisations are very far from reflective of the demographic make-up of our society. Deep down, we have known for a long time that this cannot be right. We think about the ills of racism in society and are reminded of its viciousness most days on our news. But we seem to feel no sense of urgency to question the exclusivity of our professional organisations.

For our profession it can no longer be tenable to move on without deeper reflection and resolve. We are reminded as never before that the status of the UK in the world rests on its colonial past, including slavery since the Sixteenth century until 1833 and an Empire which has been a huge resource both of commodities and markets. This history has informed our national identity and - in ways that we may be barely aware of - has shaped our perspective on racial “otherness” and contributed to stereotypical views about people from different cultures. It has left us potentially tone-deaf to issues of racial and cultural difference.

“Decolonising” refers to a process of working towards a recognition of the impact of our history and its contribution to an attitude to BAME people which is so deeply ingrained that we might not notice it at all unless we take steps to recalibrate our thinking. Within our organisations, it is time that we demonstrate that we can take this up for ourselves, rather than turning to the few people of colour among us to tell us how they see it. In ”Decolonising Psychotherapy” we will try to examine our degrees of blindness to cultural differences in our practice and to explore the privilege our whiteness confers on us, how we have assumed and perpetuated it, and most of all what we can do to bring about change.


Outline Programme for the Morning


10.00: Welcome and Introduction - Juliet Newbigin, Chair on behalf of the Scientific and Applied Activities Committee

10.10: Speaker : Helen Morgan - On Decolonising Psychotherapy

From time to time concern is expressed within the psychoanalytic community that so few individuals from the black and minority ethnic communities want to train with us and join our organisations. I have come to believe that these discussions that many will be familiar with are not only futile but are a part of the defensive structures that serve to act against the radical change that is needed. This paper considers the defensive structures of disavowal within ourselves and our organisations as well as the features of psychoanalytic training that produce a disabling complacency. These work against the radical changes that are required if the profession is to become one to which people of colour can feel they belong and that reflects twenty first century multicultural Britain. The underlying conviction of the presentation is that this is a white problem which white people need to address – not only for the benefit of black colleagues but because it also does us all harm.

11.00: Response from Guest Discussant : Frank Lowe

11.20: Comfort break

11.30: Discussion and Plenary sessions - Facilitated online for the bpf by Jane Johnson

13.00: End of the meeting

Please note that this event will be carried out online (via Zoom), details of which will be sent to you upon your registration.


About The Speakers


Helen Morgan is a Fellow of the British Psychotherapy Foundation and a training analyst and supervisor for the Jungian Analytic Association within the bpf. Her background is in therapeutic communities with adolescents and in adult mental health. She was chair of the British Association of Psychotherapists from 2004 - 2008 and of the British Psychoanalytic Council from 2015-18. She has written a number of papers on racism and psychoanalytic psychotherapy and is currently working on a book on the Disavowal of Whiteness which is due to be published early next year. The paper to be presented is a version of a chapter from that book.

Frank Lowe is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist and consultant social worker at the Tavistock Clinic. He has written several papers on race and psychotherapy and developed services at the Tavistock to make psychotherapy more accessible to black and minority ethnic people. He has edited the book ‘Thinking Space: promoting thinking about race, culture and diversity in psychotherapy and beyond’ based on chairing a regular learning forum at the Tavistock on diversity since 2002.

Juliet Newbigin is a senior psychoanalytic psychotherapy member of the bpf with a long-standing interest in the impact of the wider social context on the development of individual identity within the family. She currently chairs the British Psychoanalytic Council’s Advisory Group on Sexual and Gender Diversity.

Jane Johnson is a senior member of the bpf and training analyst for the British Jungian Analytic Association. Her background is in psychodynamic psychotherapy teaching and training and she is a past Jungian director (2008‐2017) of the MSc Psychodynamics of Human Development (Birkbeck College).