Our organisation aims to be a learning community which is open to all irrespective of race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. And yet, like most psychoanalytic institutions, we are predominantly a white organisation - and few people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds come to us to train, with fewer still on our faculty staff.
What are we doing about this situation?
From our psychoanalytic learning we know of the need for us to examine ourselves in order to understand better our own unconscious biases and blind spots.
This year, we made a start on this - with a series of group discussions which took place right across the organisation involving all TR staff meeting with our external consultant, Frank Lowe. But what we need, of course, is conversation which leads to change.
Over the past year, this has been a key organisational priority. What have we done so far?
• Following the recommendations from Frank Lowe’s report, we established a Race Equality and Diversity Group, with representation from across our organisation, to help us ensure that our race equality goals are achieved.
• We also have the support of our trustees, and this is now a standing item on every Board meeting agenda.
• As one of our next steps, we are instantiating training for staff, as well as ‘thinking space’ opportunities for continued dialogue and reflection, alongside other developments. As Andrew Cooper (cited by Morgan, 2021) puts it: ‘…Tackling institutional racism is about the pursuit of ordinariness, about creating conditions wherein, at a minimum, organisations fully effect the ordinariness of a multi-ethnic society.’ (Morgan, H., (2021). Decolonising Psychotherapy: Racism and the Psychoanalytic Profession. Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy volume 35, Issue 4, pp 412-428.)
We are some way from this, but the first step has been to recognise where we are and to commit ourselves to change.
Judging from the responses of staff in our discussions across TR, I believe we have the internal resources and personal commitment to sustain this process, at the heart of which is the recognition that racism is not just ‘out there’ as a social phenomenon, but includes us too.
Going forward, using the best tools of our profession, we need to work together to tackle the resistances we encounter along the pathways of change - so that we ensure that we uphold our values, to eliminate racism and promote equality in all that we do.