Better BME representation in clinical psychology

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Better BME representation in clinical psychology

Postby workingmama » Wed Feb 03, 2016 8:51 am

A colleague and I were chatting yesterday about the fact that, out of 11 years worth of trainees that we know from two universities, there was only one trainee who would identify themselves as an ethnic minority. We were talking about what could be done to make the profession more representative. I had some ideas about trainee recruitment, but my colleague (rightly) pointed out that any solution/support to the underrepresentation goes earlier than university (and when she says this, I have the d'oh, of course it does, moment).
Where my colleague and I differ is that I feel that it is my role as a White woman to help alter the imbalance, whereas my colleague feels that as White women, we can't/shouldn't input into this. I disagree. I'd rather make any attempt to support change informed by and working alongside BME colleagues, but we literally don't have any in any of the departments that we work into (some medics, but no psychologists). I don't want to do that 'it's the job of BME psychologists to increase uptake amongst 'their people'" thing, because I think it's my job an my problem too, but I also don't want to start thinking about what I could do to help without being properly informed about what the issues are to underrepresentation, and do a White person's view of what helps. I'm probably explaining my query poorly. I'm wondering: where can I get a good education about what would be useful to increase uptake, and who can help me with that? I'm assuming that there is a BPS subgroup for minority groups, but as I'm not currently part of BPS :oops: I can't access this. Perhaps that's the answer to my own question, but I wondered about thoughts/opinions/education for me. Thanks all.

PS This looked good, but it's cancelled: https://www.bps.org.uk/events/organisat ... conference
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Re: Better BME representation in clinical psychology

Postby StarSky » Wed Feb 03, 2016 3:38 pm

workingmama wrote:A colleague and I were chatting yesterday about the fact that, out of 11 years worth of trainees that we know from two universities, there was only one trainee who would identify themselves as an ethnic minority.

Wow, that's not a lotta ethnic.

I think it's great that you want to take an active role in challenging underrepresentation because I agree that it's a shared responsibility. Structural racism won't change until white people change.

There was a race and culture faculty of the DCP but unfortunately I believe it wasn't reinstated last year. I know Ste Weatherhead was doing some work developing a DCP strategy and policy on inclusivity, equality & diversity. There were a couple of open forums last year discussing this but I didn't go unfortunately so can't feedback about that. It might be worth dropping Ste an email?
http://www.bps.org.uk/networks-and-comm ... rsity-work

Good luck :)
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Re: Better BME representation in clinical psychology

Postby Geishawife » Wed Feb 03, 2016 3:53 pm

StarSky wrote:Structural racism won't change until white people change.


Not wishing to be too controversial, but isn't that a very sweeping statement?? To me, it implies that racism is all the fault of white people and that is where all the responsibility for change lies. Whilst not denying the seriousness of the issue or the need for us all to do what we can, I don't find such sweeping generalisations helpful and even rather insulting. Being even more controversial, could such a statement in and of itself not be construed as racist since it implies that all white people share the same beliefs and act in the same manner?
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Re: Better BME representation in clinical psychology

Postby lakeland » Wed Feb 03, 2016 6:02 pm

Geishawife wrote:
StarSky wrote:Structural racism won't change until white people change.


Not wishing to be too controversial, but isn't that a very sweeping statement?? To me, it implies that racism is all the fault of white people and that is where all the responsibility for change lies. Whilst not denying the seriousness of the issue or the need for us all to do what we can, I don't find such sweeping generalisations helpful and even rather insulting. Being even more controversial, could such a statement in and of itself not be construed as racist since it implies that all white people share the same beliefs and act in the same manner?


This is going to descend into the political easily, but you really, really can't be racist to a white person. Reverse racism is not a thing.
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Re: Better BME representation in clinical psychology

Postby Geishawife » Wed Feb 03, 2016 6:06 pm

Why not? Is white not a racial group? At the very least it smacks of prejudice, which is no better.
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Re: Better BME representation in clinical psychology

Postby Toria » Wed Feb 03, 2016 6:30 pm

This DCP inclusivity event might be helpful: https://www.bps.org.uk/events/inclusivi ... ip-service
It is in Birmingham but is being live streamed on you tube so anyone can watch it!
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Re: Better BME representation in clinical psychology

Postby MinoritiesinCP » Wed Feb 03, 2016 7:21 pm

Hi Working Mama,

One group that is trying to do some work on the under-representation of people from BME backgrounds in clinical psychology is the Minorities in Clinical Psychology Training group, which is part of the DCP Pre-Qualification group. This includes but is not limited to minority ethnicities. The link you posted was to our launch conference, and we hold annual conferences now, as well as other events e.g. our clinical psychology application event in November 2015 which aimed to support those from minority backgrounds with their application form. A couple of people from our group, including our founder Guilaine, will be speaking at the upcoming Inclusivity conference. Some more info about the group is here, including our newsletter:
http://www.bps.org.uk/networks-and-comm ... ning-group

Also, in London there is a mentoring scheme available for those from BME backgrounds, led by Dr Kat Alcock from UCL.
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Re: Better BME representation in clinical psychology

Postby lakeland » Wed Feb 03, 2016 7:48 pm

There are tons of articles about why reverse racism isn't real, but it's largely because racism is about power, privilege and structural inequality. We white people (sadly) have a much higher status in society still, reflected in pay rates for BME men and women, and horribly illustrated by the multiple murders of black adults and children in America at the hands of the police.

This is a good read from a quick google. http://www.dailydot.com/opinion/reverse ... snt-exist/
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Re: Better BME representation in clinical psychology

Postby Geishawife » Wed Feb 03, 2016 7:57 pm

lakeland wrote:There are tons of articles about why reverse racism isn't real, but it's largely because racism is about power, privilege and structural inequality. We white people (sadly) have a much higher status in society still, reflected in pay rates for BME men and women, and horribly illustrated by the multiple murders of black adults and children in America at the hands of the police.


I understand all of that, but I do find it frustrating that the issue is simplified to "it can only change when white people do" as I strongly believe it's much more complicated than that. Many years ago, my husband and I rented a flat and had a neighbour who was Pakistani in origin. He made our life HELL calling us a "mongrel couple" and telling my husband he should be ashamed to be with me. I still struggle to accept that such behaviour would be deemed racist if applied to my husband by a white person but is not racist if applied to me by a person from another ethnic group. Anyway, I don't want to totally derail the thread, but I will stand by my point that sweeping statements about groups of people are potentially offensive and are not helpful in what is a serious issue that definitely needs redressing.
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Re: Better BME representation in clinical psychology

Postby Gilly » Wed Feb 03, 2016 8:55 pm

I have been looking at this thread for several hours now, and its interesting that each time I have come to contribute, my stomach has sunk, because these topics very easily raise emotions which can become extremely confrontational. However, its also a topic which over recent months I have found increasingly disheartening. What I find difficult is that basing a more individualised 'racism' as a concept as having to include the rather nebulous terms of 'power' and 'privilege' is problematic, since these are heavily influenced by context. If racism is about prejudice directed at a different race based on a belief of superiority, than I find it hard to accept the idea that people cannot be racist towards white people. However, I do accept that there is a structural/institutional racism (which can rightly include ideas around power in the hands of particular groupings) in wider society to which this charge can be applied - hence particular discriminations/societal disadvantages, but that issues of social class also need to be considered as well.

Thinking about the original post though - its a tough thing to grapple with, because it is such a difficult topic! You're right that if we want to attract BME applicants to the professional we need to start looking earlier on in the career pathway/how attractive clinical psychology appears. My own experience of this is often that Clinical Psychology lacks 'prestige' (compared to medicine for example, although that may be a 'mental health' thing, as this also seems to apply for psychiatry) and so family-pressure may put people off. People are also not as aware of it as an option/career path early on at say, College/Sixth-Form level, and its vague/unstructured career path can be off-putting to people who may not have as much scope for family support. My understanding of the statistics the last time I checked is that the number of BME trainees on courses are in line relative to the number of BME applicants applying for the courses, so we need to actively boost numbers coming in at a much earlier point.

Our profession is primarily one of white, 'middle class' women, my view is that if change is going to happen, than those are the foot soldiers that you need to recruit and help to push things forward to make change, and I find it very disheartening when its used to attack others, and I fear that it may lead to disengagement in these issues from these groups. I was involved in some of the decisions that led to the Minorities in Clinical Psychology group having a home within the DCP - I am someone with white skin, so as someone who has tried to play my part in helping elevate these voices in the profession, I find accusations that I am a 'problem' hard to take and personally attacking (this is not just aimed within this thread, this has been a wider concern of mine in the profession as of late).

For context: my background is not one of 'privilege' by much sense of the word, I have a 'working class' background and family system, and am white by skin colour. I would highly recommend the inclusivity event if these ideas interest you as it gives a wonderful opportunity to push this topic to the forefront!
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Re: Better BME representation in clinical psychology

Postby lakeland » Wed Feb 03, 2016 9:15 pm

Gilly I think your post is largely sensible, but even from a working class background (and you know, as a CP also from a working class background, I'm not sure how much that still washes when you're a doctor with a well paid job), you're still a white male and are therefore inherently privileged. But it's great that you're using your privilege in a positive way, and I'd agree that it is very much the responsibility of those of us with more privilege and power to use that in whatever way we can to address inequality.

Obviously the lack of diversity in CP reflects a far more significant issue about access to higher education etc etc. There's no quick fix, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't do more as a profession. I'm sure Spatch has raised this issue before (around mentoring maybe?) so I hope he chips in with some more nuanced thoughts than mine!
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Re: Better BME representation in clinical psychology

Postby Gilly » Wed Feb 03, 2016 9:35 pm

I suppose what comes to mind, is that you've made an assumption about me and my assumed privilege, but its all relative, and given recent news articles, an incorrect assumption in certain contexts:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/the-filt ... chool.html

Whilst I may be in a more comparatively 'powerful' position now (again holding in mind how ill defined the concept of 'power' is) that doesn't erase my experiences of growing up where I did (I still don't shop in waitrose ;)).
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Re: Better BME representation in clinical psychology

Postby LLoop » Wed Feb 03, 2016 10:37 pm

As an aspiring Clinical Psychologist of dual heritage I am glad that working mamma has started this thread, but disheartened at how quickly a positive thread can become quite negative and off topic. I believe this a topic everyone can contribute to regardless of their ethnicity. I feel that focusing on terminology people use may result in people not posting their thoughts and feelings for fear of saying the wrong thing or offending someone. I wouldn't presume to speak on behalf of all etnic mimorities but I do agree that the unclear path into Clinical Psychology may be off putting. I myself have experienced nudges from my family into a more accessible career such as teaching. Having been interviewed for AP posts I do feel it would be beneficial whenever possible to have more diverse interview panels. Not that I believe I haven't been offered jobs because of my skin colour but I do feel that when there are just a few points between candidates an all white selection panel may relate easier to someone of similar ethnicity, especially when the AP would be working very closely with the CP. This reminds me of the recent Oscar debate and arguments that an all white selection panel are inadvertently biased towards while actors.
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Re: Better BME representation in clinical psychology

Postby miriam » Thu Feb 04, 2016 4:40 am

We absolutely do need more diversity in the profession. More variety in gender, background, religion and ethnicity. One thing anyone can do is to amplify the message that comes from under-represented groups. So, if you see a book, or a blog, or a tweet, or a TV appearance by a clinical psychologist (or mental health professional, or role model more generally) who comes from these groups, praise and share it! Talk about the positive qualities that increased diversity would bring to the profession, and how the plurality of having many different experiences and perspectives and sets of values enhances the group as a whole. Make that extra few minutes to reply to people who contact you for advice who come from BME groups or who have had a less typical path into the profession.

But I'd agree with Geishawife that prejudice comes in all different shapes and sizes. Diversity isn't only about skin colour, and prejudice isn't exclusive to white people. I'm a second generation immigrant, and from an ethnic heritage that has experienced extreme persecution and prejudice, but most people wouldn't see past the fact I'm also a white middle class professional. The only negative experience I can recall in relation to my ethnicity came from a black colleague many years ago, and wasn't intentional or hugely offensive to me (she just made a lot of assumptions that started "in your culture..." and ignored the fact I self-identify as British and atheist). I don't think her prejudice was to do with her being black, or was representative of black people though. We need to judge people as individuals. I think Tim Minchin says it better than I ever could (if you aren't familiar with this song, bear with it until the end, as the punchline takes a long time to arrive).
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Re: Better BME representation in clinical psychology

Postby Spatch » Thu Feb 04, 2016 10:56 am

Some useful past threads on this topic here:

viewtopic.php?f=32&t=1237&hilit=Diversity+BME

viewtopic.php?f=5&t=12295&hilit=discussion+of+selection+and+diversity

I am not sure if I have much more to add really. There was a really helpful BPS report about this topic but this is no longer available online.

However, I would say that I came from a far more privileged background than Gilly did (regardless of my ethnicity) and I would go as far as to say his struggle to get where he is and his contribution to the diversity of the profession is probably greater than mine.

BME underrepresentation is a culmination of several things including history, race, class, human capital, access to support networks, the views held of psychology as a profession vs more established ones (like med or pharma) and the conceptualisation of mental health across different cultures. Although the colour of one's skin is a very visible and obvious aspect a lot of things become covered up when you group a large segment of the population under a single tag.
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