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FAQs about BAATN

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) for the ultimate benefit of the Black, African, Asian and Caribbean communities that we are all a part of.

**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.

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 back in December, 12 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.

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