WELCOME TO BAATN
We are the UK’s largest independent organisation to specialise in working psychologically with Black, African, Asian and Caribbean people.
Our goal is the individual and collective processing of our inner experiences for the benefit of our communities and to give a voice to a ‘Black empathic approach’¹ in therapy and therapy education. As a body, we will seek to integrate into mainstream psychotherapy training, literature and practice.
Inequality of access to appropriate psychological services for Black, African, Asian and Caribbean people is a well-recognised reality. BAATN is actively engaged in addressing this inequality through running its own events and training programs and engaging with the therapy profession to enable a ‘black empathic approach’ in general therapy practice. BAATN also actively engages by supporting and guiding more people of African, Asian or Caribbean heritage into the therapy profession.
¹a black empathic approach is an approach conceived of by Isha Mackenzie-Mavinga (Mavinga 2009)
Gatherings and Events
BAATN runs healing and learning spaces, Therapists Connect, for the therapy and helping professions, and Community Connect for the wider public.
Healing and learning spaces for therapist and other practitioners and professionals in the caring professions. Find out more
Therapists Connect Gatherings bring together Black, African, Asian and Caribbean therapy professionals, and others in the helping professions, for mutual support and inspiration. There are also gatherings for students, to support them through their training to become a therapist. All gatherings are affordable and low cost.
Therapist Connect Training and Forums provide professional skills development for specialists across the therapy profession, regardless of background.
Healing and learning spaces for the public, including practitioners and professionals in the caring professions. Find out more
Community Connect Gatherings are for anyone of African, Asian or Caribbean heritage who wants to engage proactively and consciously in their psychological lives and be inspired and energised in the process.
Community Connect Events and Workshops are open to anyone, regardless of background, who wants to benefit from the knowledge and expertise of the Black, African and Asian Therapy Network.
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 worked for many years with severely traumatised children and their families in the field of adoption and fostering. He has a special interest in Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Somatic Experiencing and other body-orientated therapies, as well as facilitating a dialogue around race and culture as it relates to the body within organisations and in psychotherapy trainings.
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
The Leadership Team are experienced and influential in the field of Psychotherapy, Counselling and self-development. They bring their expertise and insight into supporting the general aims of the network and bring their influence to make things happen.
Carmen Joanne Ablack
Dennis L Carney
Dr Isha Mckenzie-Mavinga
OUR VISION, MISSION, VALUES AND BELIEFS
For people of Black, African, Asian and Caribbean heritage in the UK to have the means available to them by which they can psychologically liberate themselves and live their lives according to their ideals.
What we want to accomplish and what we want to change
We support and encourage people of Black, African, Asian and Caribbean heritage to engage proactively and consciously in their psychological lives so that they can emerge from the impact of personal, internalised and institutional racism.
We 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 materials that take into account the particular challenges and struggles that impact people of Black, African, Asian and Caribbean heritage.
We seek to be a voice in challenging oppressive behaviours towards people of Black, African, Asian and Caribbean heritage, including the impact of Intersectionality of multiple oppressions.
How we 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 deserve no respect whatsoever.
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 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, Asian and Caribbean heritage.
What we believe and what guides us
It is evident that there are multiple oppressions and that racism, our key focus, is one of the oppressions that we commit to challenging.
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 specific identities we carry can be used as a reason for being targeted by oppression.
We acknowledge and celebrate an intersectional approach and our multiple identities.
Many of us can become confused because of racism and oppression and 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.
Acknowledging and giving space for our vulnerabilities to be witnessed is seen as a strength and part of leadership and courage.
Which communities does BAATN serve?
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 understand its meaning in an instant. There is no particular attachment to the term ‘Black’ beyond its ease of understanding.
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, what might appear as, discriminating groups for Black and Asian Therapists?
There are many differences between the African, Caribbean and 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. One could argue that there are many other groups that are misunderstood by psychiatry, but studies have shown that it is Black, African, Asian and Caribbean people that find themselves over-represented in the most restrictive parts of the Mental Health Service, including secure services. They generally 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, when you first think about it, to go against the multicultural ideal of tolerance and non-discrimination to have discriminating groups. Multiculturalism has 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 BAA&C people’s hurt as BAA&C people. Multiculturalism promotes tolerance but what it does not promote is empathy, which of course is difficult to measure but very easy to feel or not feel. 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 Therapists Connect and Community Connect Gatherings were created as a path to affect change in these areas. There are no fixed and defined pathways for change but it is hoped that over time significant positive, motive and inspirational forces will develop within a ‘secure vessel’. From this position, the wider therapeutic and psychiatric profession might more easily engage with conversation and literature that embodies what Isha McKenzie-Mavinga calls a ‘Black empathic approach’ (Mavinga 2009) 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?
How ever the parameters of a group are defined, there will always be the edges of that definition that are grey and uncertain. Around the edges of a group definition, there are those who feel unsure about where they fit. Hopefully the following will clarify who these groups are for and the reasons for having these groups to the exclusion of other groups.
Many, but not all, of the gatherings at BAATN are for people who have an African, South Asian or Caribbean heritage and who personally feel exclusion, isolation and being targeted through the influence of 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.
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 and Beliefs statement.
Why did the network change it's 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 but the name change came following 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 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 being from Black, African, Asian and Caribbean heritages to support them to engage with their psychological lives.