Unsettling the ‘master’s house’
A critical account and reflections on developing a clinical psychology anti-racism strategy
Psychology and psychotherapy have long been regarded as a Eurocentric and largely homogenous field primarily dominated by white, socioeconomically privileged/middle-class women. This lack of racial/ethnic diversity and inclusion within the field has become an area of increased focus of discussion within psychological professions due to its significant impact on the care, experience, and outcomes of service users. Individuals from racially minoritised backgrounds face multiple systemic barriers when accessing the profession during their training and as qualified psychological professionals. Extensive research indicates that clinical psychologists from racially minoritised backgrounds experience racism in clinical psychology and this has persisted over the years. Similarly, in the psychotherapy literature, there has been an emphasis on addressing the lack of acknowledgement of racial disparities in psychotherapy training. As a result, it feels imperative that there is a radical shift in psychology and psychotherapy which involves acknowledging its role in creating and perpetuating racism and discrimination, as well as an urgent need to adopt a decolonised, socio-constructionist approach.
Despite this, there has been little focus or momentum on clinical psychology training programmes to actively address issues of racism and to develop anti-racist practice. The Newcastle University Clinical Psychology Doctorate Programme recently made an active stance to adopt anti-racist practice and implement an approach that supports collective responsibility and accountability. In this article, the authors engage in a critical, radical, and collective dialogue around their experiences, and share their reflections on developing a clinical psychology anti-racism strategy, attending to power, discomfort, and the role of systemic oppression. The diverse voices of trainers, trainees, and aspiring clinical psychologists presented suggest that collective action, solidarity, as well as attending to power and relationality, had a profound impact on the development of the anti-racism strategy, as well as on relationships, trust, and relational safety. The authors offer critical reflections on how these experiences can be helpful in further understanding the complexity and multi-faceted nature of anti-racist praxis in clinical psychology and psychotherapy.
Copyright (c) 2023 Romana Farooq, Olayinka Oladokun, Rawan Al-Mujaini, Chelsea Addy
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.