WELCOME TO BAATN
Who we are and who we serve
We are the UK’s largest independent organisation to specialise in working psychologically, informed by an understanding of intersectionality, with people who identify as Black, African, South Asian and Caribbean. Our primary focus and area of expertise is to support people from these heritages. However, we are open to other People of Colour who are affected by prejudice due to the colour of their skin and global white power.
Aims and goals
One of the primary aims of BAATN is to address the inequality of access to appropriate psychological services for Black, African, South Asian and Caribbean people, which is a well-recognised reality¹. Part of the solution to addressing this inequality of access is through the provision of events and training for our members, the entire therapy community and the wider public. We acknowledge the enormity of this task; therefore we actively seek partnerships with white majority therapy and training organisations that recognise racism, and the importance of undoing the impact of racism, as an essential part of being mentally healthy. We also seek to work in partnership with other minority groups who experience global and institutional oppression.
Our overall goal is the individual and collective processing of our inner experiences for the benefit of ours and other communities, and to give a voice to a ‘black empathic approach’² in therapy and therapy education. As a body, we seek to influence the integration of this approach into mainstream psychotherapy training, literature and practice. We also encourage other organisations to work with us and support our work.
Our membership comprises mostly of counsellors, psychotherapists and psychologists of Black, African, South Asian and Caribbean heritages of various theoretical orientations. However, there are also many members of BAATN who do not identify as being from these heritages though are interested in supporting us in achieving our aims. Become a member
We have an online directory of therapists who are self-selected, experienced and qualified. They represent a range of different theoretical orientations and specialisms and are experienced in working with the distinctive African, Caribbean and South Asian experience.
BAATN offers Practitioner Spaces, which are healing and learning spaces for therapists and others in the helping professions. There are Practitioner Spaces specifically for those of Black, African, South Asian Caribbean and People of Colour heritages as well as events for therapists of all heritages. BAATN also offers healing and learning spaces for members of the public who want to benefit from the knowledge and expertise of the network and who want to engage proactively and consciously in their psychological lives. These events are called ‘BAATN Community Spaces’.
Not for profit
BAATN is a Social Enterprise, which means that all profits are reinvested. BAATN is run mostly by volunteers and survives through membership fees, donations and crowdfunding.
¹ “Healthcare providers need relevant training and support in developing effective communication strategies to deliver individually tailored and culturally sensitive care. Improved engagement with people from BME backgrounds in the development and delivery of culturally appropriate mental health services could facilitate better understanding of mental health conditions and improve access”
Perceived barriers to accessing mental health services among black and minority ethnic (BME) communities. British Medical Journal (BMJ) 2016 – Volume 6, Issue 11
Mental Health Foundation – Mental health statistics: black, Asian and minority ethnic groups – A summary of the research to date
² Dr Isha McKenzie-Mavinga has coined the term “A black empathic approach” (Mavinga 2009). She talks about this approach as understanding and paying attention to the emotions evoked by racism. Drawing on the humanistic concept of empathy, offering a response that specifically and sensitively relates to a client’s racial and cultural experiences as they express them and as the therapist intuitively recognises them. ‘A black empathic approach’ points us towards a connection to feelings about difference and sameness, and a shared understanding of racism.
Help Promote BAATN
You can help promote BAATN to friends, colleagues, GP’s, therapy providers, theraputic institutions and anyone else who might be interested.
You can download flyers or have them posted to you here.
BAATN’s Core Values statement
Members of BAATN have signed up to the following values statement:
- All people are worthy of respect
- To acknowledge and value the emotional pain and distress caused by racism, oppression and cultural conditioning, including facing our own internal and external oppression
- To support BAATN’s challenge of psychological therapies that oppress or assert power and control over individuals, groups and communities. (e.g. reparative therapy with Gender and Sexually Diverse communities)
- To support BAATN’s challenge of stereotypes about people of Black, African, South Asian, Caribbean and People of Colour heritages.
BAATN started as “Black and Asian Therapists Online” in 2003 with funding from an organisation called Unltd, an organisation that supports social entrepreneurs. At this point BAATN was an online register of black and Asian therapists. In 2006 the first conference took place and there have been yearly conferences since. On 29 June 2010 BAATN was registered as a not-for-profit company. At this point the need to support students into the profession became more apparent and the student support groups and eventually the mentoring project was established.
MEET THE LEADERSHIP TEAM
Carmen Joanne Ablack
Dennis L Carney
Dr Isha Mckenzie-Mavinga
BAATN Midlands and BAATN South West
Most of BAATN’s activites take place in london or online. The Midlands Lead Team and the South West Lead team aim to create environments that support the therapy profession to work with the impact of race on identity and mental health in their respective areas of the UK.
OUR VISION, MISSION, VALUES AND BELIEFS
To ensure people of Black, African, South Asian, Caribbean and People of Colour to have the resources available to them through which they can psychologically liberate themselves and live their lives more fully according to their ideals.
Mission – What we want to accomplish and what we want to change
- To support and encourage people of Black, African, South Asian, Caribbean and People of Colour to engage proactively and consciously in their psychological lives so that they can emerge from the impact of personal, internalised and institutional racism.
- To support, challenge and encourage the counselling and psychotherapy profession to engage proactively and consciously with the impact of racial oppression in training, therapy and supervision.
- To develop resources that assist in countering the particular challenges and struggles that impact people of Black, African, South Asian, Caribbean and People of Colour heritage.
- To be a voice in challenging oppressive behaviours towards people of Black, African, South Asian, Caribbean and People of Colour, including the impact of intersectionality and multiple oppressions.
Core Ideology – What we believe and what guides us
- It is evident that there are multiple oppressions and that racism, our key
- We recognise that oppression is a major factor contributing to people’s distress; that people cannot be free of distress whilst oppression exists and that oppression forces us into ‘roles’ of ‘oppressor’ or ‘oppressed’.
- We recognise that no one willingly succumbs to oppression.
- We believe that no one is inherently ‘racist’ and that no one would act oppressively if they had not first been hurt, oppressed or culturally conditioned in this way. People do, however, carry racist (oppressor) patterns which are not who they really are.
- We recognise that the individual identities we carry can be used as a reason for being targeted by oppression.
- We acknowledge and celebrate our multiple identities and apply an intersectional approach in all we do.
- We acknowledge that because of racism and oppression, many people can become attached to the role of oppressed (victim) and oppressor (normal/dominant – perpetrator). This is not who we really are.
- We believe attachment to identities, roles that we unconsciously adopt and roles forced upon us by racial and other oppressions are significant barriers to attaining our liberation.
- We all carry multiple identities, which means we have to work to undo the impact of racism and other oppressions upon us. Our liberation and empowerment come from processing the hurts and confusions of oppression.
- All are welcome to join the network. Allies have a critical role to play in creating inclusive environments and challenging racism.
Core Values – How our members interact with each other and with those outside of the network.
- We acknowledge that, for our work to succeed we start from the perspective that, all people are worthy of respect. We also acknowledge that oppressive attitudes and behaviours must be challenged wherever possible.
- We are committed to resolving conflict and also recognise that conflict is part of challenging internal and external oppression. We are committed to recognising, valuing and paying attention to all emotional and psychological hurts inherent within racial and other oppressions.
- We are committed to countering our own oppressive patterns and cultural conditioning.
- We are committed to challenging all attempts to use psychological therapies to oppress or assert power and control over individuals, groups and communities. (e.g. reparative therapy with GSD communities)
- We are committed to challenging stereotypes about people of Black, African, South Asian, Caribbean and People of Colour heritages.
Which communities does BAATN serve?
Our primary focus and area of expertise is to support people from these heritages. However, we are open to other people of colour who are affected by prejudice due to the colour of their skin and global white power.
Why do you use the term ‘Black’?
BAATN’s underlying principles are the notions of ‘ease of access’ and engagement. There were many alternative names to call the network, but it was finally decided that the term ‘Black’ would be used as it is the most commonly used term to describe indigenous peoples from the African continent and the Caribbean. Even if you do not identify with the term, you immediately understand its meaning. There are no particular attachments to the term ‘Black’ beyond its ease of understanding.
The term ‘Black’ for BAATN is a political and sociological term, identifying people who have been most vulnerable to the oppression of White racism owing to differences in skin colour.
Whatever term is used for the network, be it Black or African or DoEAs (Decedents of Enslaved Africans), these terms either represent a constructive liberation of power and motive force from within the group, for the benefit of the group, or as a target for destructive use of power upon the group and the development of a victim mentality. The meaning for BAATN in this context is the former.
Why does BAATN have internal separate groups for therapists from Black, African, South Asian, Caribbean and People of Colour heritages?
There are many differences between the African, Caribbean and South Asian cultures, but what unites them is the over-representation of these groups in the psychiatric end of the mental health system and the misunderstanding and misdiagnosis of these groups by the psychiatric establishment in general. It is argued that there are many other groups that are misunderstood by psychiatry; however, studies have shown that it is disproportionate towards Black, African, South Asian and Caribbean people in the most restrictive parts of the Mental Health Service, including secure services. Further, the same also have an overwhelmingly negative experience of mental health services, which prevents them from accessing the primary care and specialist community services that might prevent or lessen their mental health problems.
In our current era of multiculturalism, it does appear to go against the multicultural ideal to have discriminating groups. Multiculturalism has given many benefits and has changed the landscape of many parts of society, but like any ideology, it has its limitations. In the fields of psychology and psychiatry, multiculturalism has made little impact.
The basic problem is a lack of understanding of Black, African, South Asian and Caribbean people’s hurt. Multiculturalism promotes tolerance but what it does not promote is empathy. Empathy is, of course, difficult to measure but very easy to experience or ignore. Racism plays a big part here of course, especially as it tends to shut down the thinking processes of people who ordinarily are very accomplished thinkers.
The Practitioner Spaces and Community Spaces were created as a path to affect change in these areas. There are no fixed and defined pathways for change, but BAATN anticipates that over time significant positive, motive and inspirational forces will develop within a ‘secure vessel’. From this position, the wider therapeutic and psychiatric profession may engage more liberally with conversation and literature that embodies what Isha McKenzie-Mavinga calls a ‘Black empathic approach’ (Mavinga 2009) [add link to emphatic approach above] for the ultimate benefit of the Black, African, Asian and Caribbean communities that we are all a part of.
How do I decide if I can be part of these groups for therapists of African, South Asian and Caribbean heritage?
In any context, when group parameters are defined, there will always be areas of definition that are grey and uncertain. This will, in turn, create confusion for some individuals who might feel unsure about where they fit. Hopefully, the following will clarify who these groups are for.
The BAATN Practitioner Spaces are for people who have a Black, African, South Asian, Caribbean and People of Colour heritage who have been adversely impacted by (White) racism. There is a strong element of self-definition when deciding to attend one of these gatherings, and it is important to know that those facilitating any one of these gatherings will have the above parameters as a primary focus. Therapist Connect Gatherings are also open to others who feel that they are affected by prejudice due to the colour of their skin and White racism.
Who facilitates the gatherings?
There are a number of facilitators for BAATN workshops and training sessions. All facilitators are qualified psychotherapists, counsellors or psychologists and affiliated to a professional association. Facilitators have also signed up to BAATN’s Core Values statement and our Vision and Mission Statement.
Why did the network change its name?
‘The Black and Asian Therapists Network’ changed its name on the 12 December 2016 to ‘The Black, African and Asian Therapy Network.’
We acknowledge that no network name will entirely satisfy everyone in our diaspora. However, the name change emanated from discussions held by BAATN’s Leadership Team which felt that, as well as the term Black in the network title, which is a political term, there was a need to respect and take into account a sense of place for Black people of both African and South Asian heritage, hence the addition of the word African.
The word ‘therapist’ was changed to the word ‘therapy’ to emphasise an additional focus of BAATN’s work that points towards our communities as well as ourselves as practitioners. It should be noted that the ongoing support for therapists and therapy students, which have been taking place over the last 10 years, will remain the same. In addition, we will be developing events for members of the general public who identify as Black, African, South Asian, Caribbean or Person of Colour, to support them to engage with their psychological lives.
Eugene Ellis – Bio
I came into therapy as part of my emancipation from internal oppression, as a consequence of my personal experiences and as a result of living in a racialised world. Many of the therapists who are part of this network have been through a similar process themselves and are passionate about inspiring and energising those that want to do the same.
Eugene trained as an Integrative Arts psychotherapist, which is a powerful way of facilitating self-healing through the use of metaphor and the imagination. He has a private practice in London, offering psychotherapy to individuals, as well as adoption support, supervision and training.
He has worked for many years with severely traumatised children and their families in the field of adoption and fostering and has a particular interest in body orientated therapies including Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Somatic Experiencing, Metallisation and Mindfulness approaches. Eugene also facilitates dialogues around race and culture as it relates to the body within organisations and in psychotherapy trainings.
Intercultural Therapy: Challenges, Insights and Developments: Finding Our Voice across the Black/White Divide. Edited by Baffour Abadio and Roland Littlewood. Jan 2019
Updating Psychotherapy Training: equality and diversity issues in psychotherapy training: The Psychotherapist. Issue 61: Autumn 2015
Silenced: the black student experience. Therapy today. December 2013
How I Became a Therapist. Therapy Today.May 2013
Why Strong Black People Do Go To Counselling. The voice newspaper. November 8 – 14, 2012
Towards a Rainbow-Coloured Therapeutic Community: Psychotherapy and Politics International. 9(3): 188–193 (2011)