The BAATO network seeks to reflect the many who are committed, passionate and actively engaged in addressing, the psychological needs of Black and Asian people in Britain.

   

What we're about

This network seeks to reflect the many who are committed, passionate and actively engaged in addressing, the psychological needs of Black and Asian people in Britain. This in turn will give others permission and inspiration to look at their mental heath in ways that they have not done before.

For the public
We are here to help you gain easy access to information and people to help you gain peak mental fitness for yourself, family, and the good of the community.

For therapists
We are here to help you share your passion and expertise with the public and bring you together with other therapists for mutual support and inspiration.

For the community
We believe that if the traumas, not just on a personal level but on a community and cultural level can be addressed, healed, benefited and learned from then our whole community can benefit and change and the place of our community can progress. Therefore we are committed to providing all the services needed, raising public awareness and gathering the momentum of all those who are interested.

the particular aims of this site are to:

  • To be the place for the Black and Asian public to connect with ideas and people that support their psychological health and mental fitness
  • To change the perception of psychological services in the Black and Asian community
  • Promote and develop effective ways of engaging therapeutically with Black and Asian people
  • Influence the training curriculum of trainee therapists
  • Provide the latest thinking in working with Black and Asian people
  • To be the centre of great ideas that engage Black and Asian people to gain increased mental fitness

Some of the issues this site is aiming to address.

Access to, and availability of, counselling and psychotherapy has improved significantly over the last five years, but people who defined themselves as
Black and other ethnic minorities still do not use this service in similar proportions to other members of our society or like say Black people in the United States.

Research done by psychotherapist Vernon De Maynard draws out some of the themes and quotes as spoken by Asian and Black counsellors and psychotherapists in the UK. His research, in effect, looks at the obstacles to engaging with therapeutic services and is outlined below. Black and Asian Therapists Online aims to remove these obstacles and get Black and Asian people engaged with the many who are committed, passionate and actively engaged in addressing, the psychological needs of Black and Asian people in Britain.

Negative experiences of mental health system
Distrust
Isolation and alienation
Shame/Guilt hidden behind culture
Stigma
Criticism of training

Negative experiences of mental health system

  • The real and negative experiences that people from this background have in the current medical system (mental health and otherwise) in terms of treatment and attitude
  • The lack of resources to fully explore and understand the 'problem' or illness these clients present with

Distrust

  • Lack of trust in a process that is seen as ‘white middle class’
  • Disbelief that White middle class counsellor will understand'
  • I need someone who has experienced racism, understands the politics of racism and to whom I don’t have to explain the issues'
  • 'You want to be able to talk to someone who knows where you are coming from'
  • 'When help is sought the therapist may not understand the cultural / family connections and therefore the help is not felt as helpful'
  • 'A large majority of therapists are white who neither understand Asian culture nor (in case of Asians) their language. For any form of psychological therapy it is very important for a rapport to be established between the therapist and the client. How can this happen when the client knows that he/she will not be understood? Some of my clients travel long distances to see me because I am one of the rare Asian counsellors. Many of them narrate their unsatisfactory experiences with white counsellors'

Isolation and alienation

  • 'going to see a counsellor who in most cases is Caucasian; fear of stereotyping and a deep seated belief that the counsellor would not be able to empathize or understand the problem'
  • 'large part of it may be that minority groups do not feel part of the mainstream and would shun many aspects of mainstream culture'

Shame/Guilt hidden behind culture

  • 'The cultural (Caribbean at least) norm of not 'chatting your business' to anyone outside the family'
  • 'Brought up with a belief that one doesn't take personal problems outside the family - hence people often talk to a family member and if there is lack of these then suffer in silence'
  • 'Often people from the Asian community believe that suffering is part of their life and they have to live with it. ''In case of couple disharmony, BME people fear that advice will be given to break the relationships instead of mending it'

Stigma

  • 'Practitioners all to quick to shout ’mentally ill'
  • 'Mental health illness is a taboo issue anyway and not enough is known about symptoms of depression, etc which can be cured with help'
  • 'In some cultures it is a stigma about involving a total outsider in their personal or family problems'

Criticism of training

  • 'People in the counselling world make out that they are bothered whilst doing very little to change the training which is euro-centric and does not challenge any ‘isms’ within its own trainees/trainers in a formal way.'
    'If more BME people are to enter counselling then we need measures to ensure that access is not for the lucky few who can afford it, and that the training is inclusive for the whole of the training period i.e. that EO / Diversity are not an ‘add on’ to the main training programme. To spend four years in training where ‘YOU’ is not recognised is difficult'

Vernon De Maynard concludes, 'where all ‘isms’ are not challenged as part of the programme then who is to say that the counsellors produced at the end of the training are qualified to work within a diverse culture' It is clearly a summary of the reason why therapists think that Black and Asian people don't use counselling and psychotherapy. Vernon De Maynard adds another dimension, and that is that many Black people actually blame 'the system' for their mental state, therefore see no reason to evaluation their own contributions to the persistent of that mental state. Its not them that's at fault its every body else, and until Black people start to consider the possibility that their negativity rubs off on their kids and that they too need to do some work on themselves will there be any change in the perception of themselves in the world.

Eugene Ellis
MA, Dip, IATE. UKCP registered Integrative Arts Psychotherapist

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