Nafsiyat Intercultural Therapy Centre statement: Black Lives Matter
The final nine minutes of George Floyd’s life captured on a smartphone camera, ignited the injustices which had for so long been seared into the lives of black people. The image of a white policeman’s knee bearing down on a black man’s neck, casually snuffing the life out of him, blew the lid off, setting in train protests and demonstrations across America and ricocheting around the globe, with the singular message; black lives matter.
That black lives mattered was the impetus for Nafsiyat’s creation in the early 1980s, which was against the prevailing context of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities’ limited access to counselling and psychotherapy. Of their overrepresentation, then as now, in psychiatric hospitals (particularly locked wards), probation services and prisons, in proportion to their numbers within the general population.
The ethos of our work as a UKCP registered organisational member then as now interrogates in the consulting room the often-uncomfortable spaces between different cultures, and working through – rather than avoiding, the social justice issues as they emerge. We have long since acknowledged and worked with the impact of external events on the internal worlds of our clients and our therapists; that old wounds are constantly being prodded and re-opened (re-traumatisation). Our communities at Nafsiyat impacted disproportionately by COVID-19 will struggle in any attempt made to locate the current events as external in origin, as their/our lives are constantly being experienced at that interface of heightened tension.
This is a critical juncture for black people and intercultural work is needed, now more than ever. We continue to provide uninhibited therapeutic spaces for our clients to draw breath and to explore and engage with their problems in the context of the glaring ‘racial’ injustices in not far away America but within our country, the United Kingdom. In their interludes: in supervision, CPDs, personal therapy and clinical meetings, our diverse therapists are as before, processing these live questions. Thereby, enabling and expanding their capacity to offer support and to engage in conversations and discussions which underline the fact that we cannot afford to allow black lives to linger and endure at the margins of existence.