A Tribute to Lennox Thomas, a pioneer and inspiration, who recently passed

Please add your own tributes, memories and commemorative message of Lennox below.

 

In Celebration of Lennox Thomas. Father, Brother, renowned Leader, mentor and inspiring Black male, consultant psychoanalytical psychotherapist in the field of Mental Health, trauma and intercultural perspectives. Now deserving of his status as our Ancestor and iconic wise elder of the profession.

BAATN would like to express their sincere and warm condolences to Lennox’s family and friends.

Born in Grenada: Lennox K. Thomas MA, CQSW, BPC, AFT, UKCP (Fellow). He was the first senior probation officer of African Caribbean origin. He then trained in child development, clinical social work, child and family psychotherapy and psychoanalytic psychotherapy.

He was Clinical Director of Nafsiyat Intercultural Therapy Centre and Co-Director of the University College (London) MSc in Intercultural Psychotherapy. He was the co-founder and Consultant Psychotherapist at the Refugee Therapy Centre. Influenced by his work with children and parents in hospitals and probation, he had an interest in attachment and transgenerational family trauma.

Lennox’ memory lives on through his historical contributions to the field of Psychotherapy and counselling since the 70s.

His teachings in the field of psychotherapy and counselling embraced the consequences and benefits of Eurocentric psychoanalytic psychotherapy and trauma. He advocated for the transformation of the discipline to account for the impact of colonisation, war, ethnic cleansing, immigration and assimilation on family and individuals.

Through his publications and talks, Lennox contributed to theory and engaged in intercultural insights to audiences in elegant, tactful and humorous ways. He sensitively addressed the historical effects of colonisation, racism and other oppressions on black, Asian and immigrant populations. We are grateful for Lennox’ time with us as a compassionate leader and role model who touched the lives of many families and individuals.

We will miss him deeply and will always be hugely grateful for everything we have learnt from him

May he rest in peace.

Nafsiyat Intercultural Therapy Centre remembers Lennox Thomas

Confer tribute and three videos of talks he gave for Confer

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26 entries.
Mary Lynne Ellis and Noreen O’Connor from London wrote on May 13, 2020:
We are both incredibly saddened by Lennox’s death. Having crossed paths with him since the 1990s we have, for the last nine years, been meeting in a small study group of six, of which Lennox was a committed member. Our focus has been on questions of race, culture, class, gender, and sexualities in relational psychoanalysis and all of us have personal experiences of being members of minority and/or disadvantaged groups. We were all professional members/associates of the Refugee Therapy Centre (until its closure in 2018), of which Lennox was a trustee and a staff member for many years.

Through our lively discussions, we have been exploring the relevance of relational theorising, contemporary philosophy, fiction, and theatre texts to our clinical practices as well as presenting our own writing to the group. In between meetings we have met up for visits to galleries, plays, concerts, and meals. It has been a vital group for us all, personally and professionally.

Lennox’s contribution as an individual and a family therapist who, after studying history, had initially worked in the probation service, has been crucial. His challenges, since the 1980s, to the racism in the psychoanalytic field and his theorising of the conscious and unconscious effects of racism and colonialism on individuals’ lives and on familial dynamics will be hugely missed by those who are developing new perspectives in relational analytical practices relevant to contemporary contexts.

Thank you, Lennox, for your original and critical thinking, your gentleness, courage, warmth, humour, openness, and patience. Your spirit will always be with us.

Mary Lynne Ellis and Noreen O’Connor
Gita Patel from London wrote on May 2, 2020:
I first met Lennox when he interviewed me for the post of Refugee Project Manager at the Nafsiyat Intercultural Therapy Centre in 1995, I had recently qualified as a counsellor and it was my first therapeutic post. I had of course read Lennox’s chapter in the Nafsiyat book: Racism and Psychotherapy: working with racism in the consulting room - An Analytic View, in this chapter Lennox describes the relationship between therapist and patient and explicitly addresses race as central to the therapeutic work.

At the time these ideas were groundbreaking, racism was not an issue that was discussed in psychoanalysis and I found it quite liberating that a therapist could talk so openly about the conscious and unconscious race dynamics in psychotherapy. At the interview I found Lennox to be a very engaging and charismatic man, not afraid to express his opinions even in the interview setting which immediately made me feel relaxed and more able to put forward my own ideas about the Project, of course I was delighted to be offered the post. For the next 4 years I worked closely with Lennox as the Clinical Director he was always available to think through the challenges of the work, and was a very supportive Manager, supervisor and mentor during those times. He also encouraged me to present the work of Nafsiyat to outside organisations and conferences giving the whole organisation a status and reputation to be proud of. We had to face a lot of challenges from mainstream therapy organisations who often felt threatened by Nafsiyat which was a small charity, Lennox would say our organisation may be small in size but our ideas are big and needed to be heard and integrated into psychoanalytic thinking. With this in mind we spread the work of Nafsiyat both nationally and internationally.

With Lennox’s encouragement I went onto to train as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist on the Nafsiyat/UCL MSC in Intercultural Psychotherapy. As a honorary lecturer Lennox taught me so much not only about psychoanalytic theory and practice but also how my own cultural background and experiences of race racism and other social and cultural issues could be a valuable tool in my psychoanalytic work rather than an added obstacle or burden. I still value and use all the ideas taught on that course and will never forget the innovative thinking and support and encouragement that Lennox provided. He did all this with a great sense of humour and a charm that made working with him and being taught by him an engaging and enjoyable experience.
Fenella Jeffers from York wrote on April 29, 2020:
I am sorry to hear that Lennox Thomas has died. The one and only time I encountered Lennox Thomas, he left an indelible mark on my sense of self. It was at the Visible and Invisible conference held in Leeds in 2000. I was about to embark on my own personal therapy having been encouraged to attend by my then Asian counsellor who practised at the only Black and Asian counselling service for women, which closed not long afterwards.

I was lucky. I don't recall what prompted the encounter during a break in proceedings, nor what we talked about, but I recall offering him my handbag to which his response was "I don't know any black woman who would give away her handbag!" I did learn later what this meant to me in therapeutic terms. Lennox was one of the keynote speakers at this conference. He talked about the experience of the Black patient in therapy. He asked the question: How do black patients get into therapy? This question remained largely unanswered but his theory was that racism plays a major role. He went on to outline some of the issues that are relevant to black people in psychotherapy: multiple attachments; co and interdependency in Asian, African and Chinese cultures; and the pathologies of families who are different in terms of judgment and assessment.

I have much to learn from his work and he will not be forgotten. I feel privileged to have had that encounter.
Sharon Bond wrote on April 26, 2020:
I don’t remember when and how or where I first met Lennox. I think it was in the early to mid-nineties. What I do remember though was his warmth and his laugh. I think we played a guessing game of where are you from. When he learned I was from Guyana, he immediately began to call me BG. I remember saying no Guyana. I knew of course that when Guyana was British Guiana other West Indians often, affectionately, called out “Hey BG” as a greeting. That became his way of greeting me whenever our paths crossed.

The last time that happened was when I saw him at the Supporting Relationships and Families Conference in November 2019. Lennox gave a presentation about fathers and sons. It was a presentation that inspired me. His presentation focused my thoughts on the role, often invisible, of fathers in many black families and moved me to contact my local youth service to see whether I might play a part in helping them think about a more family centred approach to working with the young people that frequented the centre.

I know I will miss him for his warmth, wisdom and laugh and of course his greeting me as BG.
Dick Blackwell from London wrote on April 25, 2020:
What a tragic loss! An inspiration and a leader in the long struggle to get analytic psychotherapy out of its white, Western, middle-class ghetto and into the world of multiculturalism and post colonial consciousness. Always a joy to encounter, with a great sense of humour, fun and irony. Goodbye, Comrade Lennox. You will be greatly missed.
Noida Darien-Campbell from Sheffield wrote on April 23, 2020:
Greetings everyone at Nafsiyat and all members of BAATN, past and present. I would first of all like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to Eugene for contacting me, even though I am not a member of BAATN now. As I am writing with a heavy heart, I would like to send my sincere condolences to Lennox’s family, friends and associates.

I began writing the minute that I saw the email from Eugene and had to stop and think about how lengthy it could be…The last half a decade has been immeasurably traumatic for me with a tsunami of challenges that some mighty power has held me vertically for most of the time…

My name is Noida Darien-Campbell from Sheffield, South Yorkshire or some may refer to it as ‘Country’. Well, I still find it hard to believe that Lennox has gone. It saddens me to read the headline of your email Eugene, especially at this time while we are faced with this dreaded crisis of the Coronavirus pandemic lockdown. Lennox was and remains a huge presence in my life. May his huge soul rest in eternal peace.

My fond and vivid memories of Lennox are from my childhood and then, fast forward (‘fast forward’... when did I start using that term!) to me being a big woman having my own family with 'pickaninnys', that is what Lennox used to call me and my siblings (all in the best possible taste back in the day). I am a good age now and after having many strings to my bow, by a strange and a long-awaited coincidence, in my latter years, became a Psychotherapist.

About 9 years ago a friend invited me to a BAATN conference, where I was reunited with my long-lost big friend; Lennox. LENNOX, I always thought he had an unusual and grand name, very fitting too. After decades of not seeing him because that was back in 1967’ish, he was still the same, a big presence, confident, very charismatic, a twinkle in his eye, full of wit and humour. In the conference, he made me aware that he had my back with a little nod here and there and calling out my name during a warm-up exercise. During the break, I felt his eye observing me from a distance while the other eye focused on who he was talking to (he was magical). Actually, that reminded me; he used to do magic tricks and to me as a ‘toddler’ (one of his favourite words), I thought he was a genius.

Lennox was our babysitter and I loved the times that we shared playing all kinds of games while mum was at night school doing a typing course. Lennox’s mother ‘Angela’ and mine were good friends and that is how we got to know him. I loved how he would tell the wildest stories and he was so energetic, clever, 'I thought' and always smartly dresses. Over the years that we weren’t in touch, not because we lost touch but simply that he finished studying, went travelling and was no longer my babysitter. While growing up, I thought of him as a barrister or even a judge, sitting on his well deserved throne only to find that he had a different type of throne and he was more than a judge where his job was to not judge at all. On with the present time; I have been struggling with this social isolation enforcement on many levels. I think I overdosed on the news for the first four weeks and I have had to write this in stages to gather my thoughts. Please bear with me...
I imagined him to be a vicar or something like that because he seemed to make everything alright whenever he was around. He wasn't like any other black man that I knew back then, he wasn't doing heavy labouring work with cut-up hands from tough work, he had very soft warm hands. Lennox had his head in books, was studying and going places. Lennox was a literary man, I’m almost sure he made up some of the words, and I won’t share them, or forget them; they are etched in my brain in rhyme and song. Lennox loved words, language and music, so he would make songs up about something and nothing and always made us laugh. I remember when he went on holiday to Holland and brought me two gifts back, a pair of ballerina earrings and a pair of miniature delft pottery clogs that I took everywhere with me until they were battered and chipped.

In my late teenage years, I applied to go to St Martins School of Fashion and was accepted, the problem was, that I lived in Sheffield South Yorkshire. Lennox lived in London and came to my rescue by offering me a place to stay. He lived in Ealing Broadway, at the time and it sounded very theatrical to me; Broadway?... I didn't go to London, or Fashion College because I met my husband of 33 years this October.

As an adult, I visited Lennox’s family home along with my siblings and I felt so proud of him. He looked majestically kingly, like he was living the dreamlife with his wife and three children. The interior was steeped in a richness of Black history and knowledge. His home was adorned with ancestral artefacts and inspirational memorabilia of black people who made a difference to my heritage. I was really moved to witness his achievements. Lennox definitely made a big impact on my life that has never left me.

The last time we were in touch was when my brother suddenly, tragically died in 2018, I contacted Lennox and he had no words, that was so unlike him...

I didn’t have the pleasure of working with Lennox, though I do feel honoured to have had him in my life. If only he knew what an impact and an influence, he had on me. I could go on and on and some may say I have already so I’ll leave it there. I don’t know how I’m going to tell my mother who lives in Jamaica…

I salute you LENNOX Thomas, RIEP.

P.S. In this time of lockdown I don’t know all of the protocol for the bereaved. If you get the opportunity Eugene, Could you drop me a line and let me have the details so I can pay my respects? It would be most appreciated.

When I’m clapping for our hero’s I’ll be clapping for Lennox too who will not be forgotten.

Noida, aka #noidart
arttherapynorth.co.uk (under lockdown until further notice)
Munirah McCloud from London wrote on April 23, 2020:
I would like to extend my condolence to Lennox Thomas's family. I am truly sorry to hear of this sad loss in our community
I was fortunate to have met him as he came and gave a talk on Race and Racism, enabling me to be reacquainted with these issues and for me to appreciate just how much issues like the Clark and Clark experiments and Franz Fannons' experience are still issues which are alive and central in Counselling and Psychotherapy as an African Caribbean trainee.
He left an impact on my thinking and training at Birkbeck, which I will always value.
I pray the Lord will protect your Soul on your journey eternally Mr Lennox Thomas, May your light keep shining in our community.
katherine murphy from London wrote on April 23, 2020:
As I look into Lennox's picture my heart fills with tears. He was a wry and wise mentor to me for many years and I miss his robust humanity. For many of us, he was also a trailblazing professional living the interface and intersection of the psycho-social and I am forever grateful for his embodied, incorrigible, intellectual rigour.
Kiran Seth from London wrote on April 23, 2020:
I first met Lennox Thomas with Dr. Littlewood at an interview at UCL. He was the inspiration
for me to follow my work in Intercultural Psychotherapy. Thereafter I had the privilege of
attending many conferences.

I also had the opportunity to gain his guidance when he was leading at Nafisiyat.
He has been my mentor and source of inspiration and will always be remembered fondly.

May God rest his soul in peace.
Gloria Boadi from London wrote on April 23, 2020:
It’s with great sadness that I read that Lennox Thomas had passed on to the ancestors. Our paths crossed at his lecturers at Goldsmiths and community training events in South East London. I was touched by his humility, generosity, compassion and sense of humour. I was impressed by his ability to translate complex theories into digestible, relatable realities. I loved his voice and delivery. I truly admired his championing of the black race and the marginalised.

Mr Lennox Thomas, you have touched my soul in this world. Safe journey to the ancestors. My sincere condolences and best wishes to the family.

RIP.
Andrew Samuels from London wrote on April 23, 2020:
I posted this on The Relational School right after Carmen Joanne Ablack told us about Lennox. It was immediate and spontaneous so I haven't changed anything:

"Oh Man….

Oh, Carmen, this is so sad. Such a loss of a giant in the fields he graced. As you say, many people will be in intense shock and mourning over it.

Lennox did as much as anyone has for the causes of social justice, non-discrimination and diversity in our field and in society.

I have known him for nearly 50 years. We met in the Group for the Advancement of Psychotherapy in Social Work in the early 1970s.

My cheeks are wet. And I know what a colossal loss is for you personally.

Much love, Andrew"
Jane Darougar from London wrote on April 22, 2020:
I had the astonishing privilege of Lennox being my supervisor for 15 years. He was, without any doubt, the wisest person I’ve ever met. His knowledge was encyclopaedic, he had the rare combination of deep theoretical understanding and immense practice based knowledge. His capacity to communicate his compassionate understanding and his passion for equality was unmatchable. I will miss him dearly.
Marva from London wrote on April 22, 2020:
My therapist recommended that I see a Black male therapist following the end of my marriage. I was recommended to you. What a blessing this was. You were right on time. Encouraging and challenging me. I wasn't an easy client. You were full of grace and humour and helped me to recognise the contribution I had made and could continue to make. I witnessed your formidable skills challenging racism and oppression in forums with other therapists. You would not allow them to control our narrative as Black people. You helped to find my voice. Always in my heart. Rest in Power

My teacher and mentor. Lennox Thomas
💗
Theresa Hammond from ASHFORD wrote on April 22, 2020:
I would like to send my condolements to the family and friends of Lennox Thomas. Although I did not know him personally, we have met in spirit and our paths met at my first BAATN conference based on the photograph above, as he is standing behind me at the right hand side, fourth row at the back how amazing is that! He was also a Grenadian which is also where I was born.

May he rest in peace.
Carmen Joanne Ablack from London wrote on April 22, 2020:
Lennox was an inspiration. I saw the impact of his dedication and work when I became a trustee at Nafsiyat. What I remember most fondly of him, in this moment, was his ability to support, cajole and laugh with you at your own limitations. I experienced his breadth and depth of knowledge, his support, even just in a glance or a look and the loving embrace of his laughter which could boom out and include everyone in hearing range.

His writings, and his thinking have been and will continue to be very important to me, and today most of all I just remember the hugeness of his heart, his compassion and his wicked sense of humour! God bless you brother.
kate Campbell from London wrote on April 22, 2020:
Sincere sorrow to lose one of our best. A benchmark of humility, kindness and compassion. A privilege to have met in the 1990’s , then 4 years ago at Brighton AFT conference. A true testament to all that we aspire to become.

RIP Mr Thomas and well wishes to the family. Kate
Paula Clarke-Little from London wrote on April 21, 2020:
After a rocky start at my training institution and a later request to change my therapist to enable my continued study, I asked my training institution to recommend a therapist of colour to me. They recommended you.

Before meeting you I googled your work and prepared myself to meet a distant but thorough psychoanalyst. Instead, I met a playful and deeply curious mind. Steadfast, thorough, engaging, funny and intelligent. You had a knack of taking me on an intellectual ride and always left me thinking.

I found myself laughing with you as much as I felt the emotional pain necessary to further my development as a resilient individual and a robust psychotherapist. You challenged me all the time to think more of myself and to consider my assets as well as my many faults. Often we would just talk about history and I will sorely miss those deep conversations which filled my soul as much as my mind.

When it was time, you gently yet assuredly ushered me out. Giving me the confidence that it was time and I would be just fine.

Thank you for holding my doubts. Thank you for your wisdom. Thank you for your disagreements. But most of all thank you for doing your job with respect, dignity and gusto. I have learned an enormous amount from you and will keep you and your intellectually humble yet humorous character with me throughout my practice and life.

You have been a true legend and I am grateful for your shoulders. God bless you and may you rest in delightful peace wherever you are right now.
Narendra Keval from London wrote on April 21, 2020:
I am very saddened by the loss of Lennox who was a valued colleague. I have fond memories of working with him at Nafsiyat Therapy Centre in the late 80’s and recall him as a pioneer, whose voice was a courageous one in a profession that had so few Black Psychotherapists. I am sure his writings will continue to inspire both seasoned and a new generation of therapists coming through. He certainly inspired me to continue thinking and writing about race. Sadly, the last time I saw him was at my book launch a few years ago when it was a pleasure to chat with him after so many years. I will miss his incisive mind, warmth and humour.
Narendra Keval
Zack Eleftheriadou from London wrote on April 21, 2020:
I met Lennox in 1995 when, in his capacity as Clinical Director, had invited me to work at Nafsiyat. I was privileged to teach, present at conferences and work alongside him on many complex child and family clinical cases.

There was no doubt that he could communicate with ease and reach out to those who had been neglected by social systems. I learnt so much from him and he remained a colleague and friend ever since. It is incredibly sad to be writing this as we have lost one of the giants of our profession and it will be a huge loss for our intercultural field.

However, there is a large community, which I am proud to be part of, that will always remember his creative thinking, charisma, decency and humour.

Thank you Lennox.

My warmest wishes to the family, Zack
Ounkar Kaur from Bristol wrote on April 21, 2020:
I'm saddened to know of Lennox's passing. We met several years ago at a BAATN conference. I saw immediately his strength of character, his humour and intelligence. I was particularly intrigued by his involvement with Nifsiyat therapy centre and commitment to the centre. It was an exilerating experience capturing his humility, humour and humanity. My sincere condolences to all Lennox's loved ones. Bless xx
Kris Black from London wrote on April 21, 2020:
I have many fond memories of encounters with you Lennox, encounters that left me feeling your warmth, authenticity and humour.
I was always struck by your immense and deeply authentic capacity to put people at ease.

Your intelligence and your knowledge have sustained many of us and your ability to endure stays with me.

Psychotherapy seemed a much more understandable and accessible theory and practice with the power of your analysis and the weight of your contribution behind it.

We are richer for having had the honour and privilege of your wisdom and incisive lens. As an elder, you will be sorely missed, and your passing is undoubtedly a loss to us all.

Rest In Power Lennox
You were Loved.
Rahel wrote on April 21, 2020:
I will forever be grateful to have had Lennox K Thomas as mentor, lecturer and guide during my 6 years of training at the Refugee Therapy Centre. His generosity of spirit, ease, humour, storytelling, insight and quiet strength in face of difficulties will form my lasting memories of him.

I remember how vividly he shared anecdotes with us students, him facilitating our group therapy sessions and meeting everyone with warmth and laughter. Being a living testimony of rising up in the midst of racial oppression I have been inspired by his courage to call out what is conveniently concealed with such grace and truth and empowering so many in marginalised communities. I would not be the psychotherapist I had the privilege to become without his guidance and support! May we continue to practice with his legacy and pioneer spirit!

Rest in Peace
Dr Isha Mckenzie-Mavinga wrote on April 21, 2020:
I knew Lennox as a brother and colleague in the profession. We appeared on many professional platforms together and we had an unspoken fondness and connection through our shared acceptance that the field of counselling and Psychotherapy needed to be continuously transforming to meet the intercultural needs of the community and the challenge of cultural oppression and racism alive.

I really appreciated the way he could deliver a serious topic with good humour and generate engagement with a theoretical topic that inspired and supported practitioners. He will be missed but not forgotten.

Isha
Jayakara from London wrote on April 21, 2020:
Thank you Lennox for supporting me in so many ways indirectly over my life. My first knowledge of you was when I was a trainee probation officer, in the late 80’s, and my white supervisor, went to you for advice on how to manage a young black ‘problematic’ trainee, as my supervisor knew you worked for Nafsiyat. Then I began hearing of you, through peers and staff in the Probation Service, both Black and white, glowing reports of a great Senior Probation Officer. Then you left and became director of Nafsiyat. And I still had not met or spoken to you.

I read your articles from afar and felt stimulated, nourished and informed about how to work with our communities. Then you became my husband’s therapist, who you inspired enormously and I felt your support in our relationship indirectly.

I saw you at conferences and loved your vibe. Your knowledge, your experience, relaxed confidence, warmth and the way you playfully, or directly, confronted people, which enabled them to grow, always shone through.

I last saw you at a conference in 2019, although ailing, you were still supporting us in the psychotherapeutic world. I remember the warmth and laughter, during our walk to the conference centre from the car park, only to find we had to go back to put permits in our cars. I felt honoured that you accepted with grace and laughter my offer to put the permit in your car.

Thank you and may you continue to inspire us all.

Jayakara
Eugene Ellis from London wrote on April 21, 2020:
The first time I met you was during my training as an Integrative Arts psychotherapist. The place I was training invited you to give a lecture about working with difference in the therapy room. What was most striking about first seeing you in action was your mixture of humility, playfulness and authority. You inspired me. Looking back, an unvoiced part of myself had experienced something like 'If Lennox could exist as a black therapist, then so could I'.

My next engagement with you was as my therapist. Again, your playfulness and authority shone through. I have very vivid memories of our therapeutic relationship where you awoke parts of me that had been previously laid dormant. These moments in therapy with you, in large part, have brought me to where I am now. You had ignited my sense of leadership and kindled an impulse to be of service and to make a contribution to the mental well-being of black and Asian people in particular and targets of oppression more generally.

More recently, I've had the absolute pleasure of sharing a platform with you at various conferences, and even though I see you as the wise one and a father figure, you made me feel that we were side-by-side. I feel honoured, as I'm sure many others do, of advancing the work that you have tirelessly given us and continuing the work of the ancestors.

Warm and loving memories always.

Eugene
Poppy Banerjee from London wrote on April 19, 2020:
A couple of years ago I was asked to deliver a self-harm training for the separation and Reunion Forum SRF by Elaine Arnold. I was just about to start when Lennox walked in and greeted me with such grace. That was the last time I saw him.

I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with him on many occasions. He will remain alive in my memory for a long time.

May he rest in peace. 🕉