Race, Power & Privilege - Social Justice Part 1
What is Homa’s approach to Social Justice? As part of our Humanistic Psychotherapy and Counselling Diploma, we run a Social Justice module which spans the whole of the second year of training as well as being woven into the fabric of every module throughout the four years.
In this first post, we will share our aims and approach to working with Race, Power & Privilege. In subsequent posts, we will outline how we explore and teach Social Justice in relation to sexuality, gender, ability, religion, ethnicity, social class, marital status, pregnancy, menopause and body shape and size.
This post will answer 4 questions:
How does Homa encourage emotional safety for Global Majority* trainees when discussing race, power and privilege in the training group?
What is the structure and content of the work Homa trainees undertake on race, power and privilege?
What does Homa include in the academic scheme of work to ensure that Race, Power and Privilege training is enriching for Global Majority trainees?
What experience do Homa tutors have in exploring their own understanding of racism and the impact of racial diversity?
1. How does Homa encourage emotional safety when discussing aspects of race, power and privilege in the training group?
As tutors, we invite all Homa trainees to practice courage and resilience in uncomfortable conversations about race and racism. This is something we start working on this in the Foundation Year and continue throughout the course.
This means that we expect all White trainees to become aware of their White fragility, guilt, shame and/or panic and to learn how to manage these aspects of themselves so that they can be active participants in the work on Race, Power & Privilege rather than passively enduring another training on diversity. This active participation includes:
being actively willing to learn
being actively open to listening
being actively prepared to speak
We invite White trainees to recognise and own their prejudices and privilege and to acknowledge the impact that these have on others. We do not pathologise Global Majority trainees’ experience of distress as a ‘disorder’. We do not expect Global Majority trainees to shoulder the responsibility for driving forwards the race conversations, nor do we expect them to educate White trainees about racism by exposing their own experiences of pain or answering White peers’ questions.
We acknowledge that being part of a training group which is made up of predominantly White people can be difficult, painful and exhausting for Global Majority trainees. We offer all Global Majority trainees the opportunity to have meetings with a completely independent Global Majority psychotherapist to hold and process their experience of being in the training group, particularly in relation to the work that we undertake on race, power and privilege. These meetings are optional, paid for by Homa and are kept confidential between the psychotherapist and the trainees, with no feedback to the tutor team except at the request of the trainee. The meetings are not a replacement for therapy, they provide a space to talk specifically about the challenges and experiences of training in a predominantly White space. We are in an ongoing conversation with both the psychotherapist and the trainees to assess how this process is working for them and to keep adapting where necessary.
2. What is the structure and content of the Social Justice work Homa trainees undertake on Race, Power and Privilege?
The work on race, power and privilege is woven throughout the four training years, starting in the Foundation Year. The first term of Year 2 is dedicated to an 8 week module entitled: Race, Power and Privilege. Our Guest tutor Trupti Magecha joins the Homa tutors in leading the work which, this year (2023), used Layla Saad’s book, ‘Me and White Supremacy’ as a starting point.
All trainees are asked to read a set number of chapters from the book each week and to use the journal prompts at the end of each chapter as a basis for their journalling and self-enquiry. This work is then explored in small group sessions through art and mark-making and group conversions.
Layla Saad’s book is compulsory reading and the journalling is a course requirement. We provide a diverse reading list that gives trainees insight into the lives and experiences of people from different backgrounds and cultures. We also ask trainees to watch and listen to a variety of films, videos and audio material which we provide on our dedicated Homa Psychotherapy Training Portal.
In Years 3 & 4, we look at the relationship between therapist and client from the perspective of working with race, power and privilege and explore how to work therapeutically with generational trauma. When presenting and discussing Humanistic theories, we encourage trainees to critique them through the lens of race, privilege and power.
We are in an ongoing process of assessing and evaluating our approach and are committed to learning and improving.
3. What does Homa include in the academic scheme of work to ensure that Race, Power and Privilege training is enriching for Global Majority trainees?
We draw on diverse source materials to ensure that the lenses through which our trainees are learning about psychotherapy are not all White and White centring. In 2023, for the Race, Power and Privilege module, Global Majority trainees spend time in a small group with Trupti Magecha, providing a space for them to explore and discuss their responses and feelings to the work in a safer space.
The White trainees explore and process their prejudices and racism, also in smaller groups, before all gathering together in one large group for further discussion. In formulating and writing this module, we are also in an ongoing process of identifying and meeting the needs of the different Global Majority trainees. What works for one trainee may not be suitable for another and what has been helpful for one year group may need to change depending on the specific identities of the trainees. We do not assume that all Global Majority trainees will need or want the same things.
At the end of the term, Dr Alleyne joins the group for an enriching afternoon of teaching, questions and conversation. As well as learning about the harm and trauma caused by generations of White supremacy, we also celebrate and affirm Global Majority lives and culture, through music, poetry and other forms of expression.
4. What experience do Homa tutors have in exploring their own understanding of racism and the impact of racial diversity?
All Homa tutors and guest tutors are expected to be in an ongoing process of actively acknowledging, challenging and working through their own racism with the aim of ensuring that they can be positive allies to all Global Majority Homa trainees and beyond.
As tutors, we do not ask trainees to do any work that we have not done ourselves. We have worked through Layla Saad’s book ourselves and continue to read, watch, listen and talk extensively to develop our understanding of the impact of racism and White supremacy. We take action, calling in racism when we witness it both at Homa and in the world at large and all Homa tutors are willing and open to being called in or called out to further our own process of dismantling racism and White supremacy. We have regular supervision sessions with Dr Aileen Alleyne whose teaching provides us with invaluable guidance and continued learning and growth.
*At this time we have chosen to use Global Majority as a collective term to refer to trainees who are Black, South Asian, East Asian, Brown, dual-heritage, indigenous to the global south, and or have been racialised as 'ethnic minorities'. Globally, these groups currently represent approximately eighty per cent (80%) of the world's population. We acknowledge that not all Global Majority people choose this term for themselves and in our training groups, we adapt our language to meet the wishes of each individual trainee. The term Global Majority was coined by Rosemary Campbell-Stephens MBE. (To read and article about this term by Rosemary Campbell-Stephens MBE, click HERE)
Come to an INTRODUCTORY WORKSHOP
to find out more about our approach to Social Justice and if Homa Psychotherapy and Counselling Diploma
is the right course for you.
Henry S, 2023, Chapter 13 Demedicalised counselling and psychotherapy and the racist overmedicalisation of people in the Black Diaspora, People Not Pathology, PCCS Books, Monmouth.
Alleyne A, 2022, The Burden of Heritage: Hauntings of Generational Trauma on Black Lives, Confer Ltd,