Better BME representation in clinical psychology

Anything that does not fit into the above categories, but is related to psychology, including discussion of public and media perceptions of psychology, satire related to psychology, etc.

Re: Better BME representation in clinical psychology

Postby StarSky » Thu Feb 04, 2016 11:48 am

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?

Yes, it’s a sweeping statement. No, it does not imply the conclusions you’ve inferred.
Regardless of whether you find it offensive or unhelpful, I think my point is pretty uncontroversial. Racism is deeply embedded in the institutions of British life. I believe that there’s often an intentional ignorance around inconvenient truths such as this and an assumption that the responsibility for change comes from BME communities. Since we live in a racist society it’s everyone’s responsibility to change it – a shared responsibility, as I clearly stated.

lakeland wrote:Reverse racism is not a thing.

This. 1000x this. That is until black people enslave and colonise the world based on an assumed superiority, create a system where only black people benefit on a large scale (including standards of beauty) and to top it off pretend that said system doesn't exist...

Prejudice is a thing and in us all, but prejudice used as a power structure is different.
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Re: Better BME representation in clinical psychology

Postby isabelj89 » Thu Feb 04, 2016 10:50 pm

Starsky I very much agree with you.

Also, I think it's important to think about the fact that 'BME' are not a homogenous group and that different groups within the 'BME' category will face different challenges and oppressions.

Ultimately though, living in a racist society impacts on so many aspects of a persons life throughout their lifespan that generally speaking 'BME' groups are at a disadvantage from the get go.
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Re: Better BME representation in clinical psychology

Postby Geishawife » Fri Feb 05, 2016 12:49 pm

I'm not ignoring anything. I just don't think it's unreasonable to suggest that making sweeping statements about a group of people based purely on their skin colour is unhelpful and oversimplifies a very complex issue.
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Re: Better BME representation in clinical psychology

Postby StarSky » Fri Feb 05, 2016 5:54 pm

Geishawife wrote:I'm not ignoring anything. I just don't think it's unreasonable to suggest that making sweeping statements about a group of people based purely on their skin colour is unhelpful and oversimplifies a very complex issue.
You’re reaching here, I'm afraid. I believe white people joining the fight is a necessary condition for eliminating structural racism, I never said it was sufficient.


More generally, I think it’s interesting that an innocuous response to a request for information has been met with such heated reactions. We’ve already seen the convenient appearance of examples of ‘reverse racism’, working class white people and the existence of other types of prejudice. These are all worthy topics of discussion, but in my experience these responses are quite typical and convenient diversions away from conversations about racism.

I’m not spoiling for a fight over this, it’s just interesting to me. I doubt that discussions about gender or class or age or sexuality would provoke the same emotive responses. I get that racism is uncomfortable to talk about, but it’s more uncomfortable to live it. Silence does nothing so it’s worth the difficult conversation.
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Re: Better BME representation in clinical psychology

Postby Geishawife » Fri Feb 05, 2016 7:04 pm

StarSky wrote:You’re reaching here, I'm afraid.


I'm not quite sure what you mean by this, but, like you, I'm not spoiling for a fight and agree that race is perhaps more emotive than any other kind of difference and results in passionate responses! I can't pretend to know what it's like to grow up as a BME person in the UK, but as the daughter of an Irish father, brought up on one of the roughest council estates in one of the poorest boroughs of London, the wife of an Asian man and mother of a mixed race child I don't consider myself immune to the effects of racism, classism and many other "isms" either!! This IS a serious issue and I want to see it addressed. We each have to do our bit and allow others to see it from their own experience and perspective.
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Re: Better BME representation in clinical psychology

Postby Pink » Sat Feb 06, 2016 12:29 pm

Hey,

It has been really interesting to read the comments so far, and I agree with StarSky that it is sad how swiftly a discussion about race has been hijacked by other issues. Of course there are many oppressed groups, but it reminds me of how quickly discussions about rape and sexual violence become hijacked by the #notallmen stuff-it seems so difficult to stay with, honour and learn from the voices of the oppressed minorities without our own defences and blind privilege being activated. I have found the concept of kyriarchy (http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/04/kyriarchy-101/) helpful in developing my thinking around this, and unpicking my own defensive responses to be able to more truly hear another's experience. This quote from that link captures it for me:

Intersectional feminism tells us that oppression comes in many different forms. Someone is not simply oppressed or privileged: we can be simultaneously privileged and oppressed by different aspects of our identities.

For example, somebody can be privileged by the fact that they are cisgender, thin, and white, while being oppressed by the fact that they are queer, disabled, and female.

Because of this, we need a word to describe the complex social order that keeps these intersecting oppressions in place. Kyriarchy is an excellent word for this concept.


I don't want to hijack the conversation from the issue of race, privilege and structural oppression either, I just wanted to offer a way of thinking about multiple identities of privilege and oppression that helped me to unpick my own privilege (middle class, white, highly educated, cisgender) and oppressions (female, gay, survivor of trauma) which allowed me to acknowledge and start to address the ways in which I personally have benefited from a racist system and how my thinking has been inherently shaped by that-stuff that frankly, I did not want to be true. Acknowledging it gave me the space to start to challenge it where I could though, to try to be an ally where I can. I found this video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zPtpRrpU-g

by a black activist really helpful in clarifying my thinking, although it was uncomfortable viewing and I really had to stay with it and read much more around it to understand just how much the privilege of my white skin continually benefits me and gets in the way. We are privileged, every day. A 12 year old white boy playing with a toy gun isn't at the same risk as a 12 year old black boy doing the same thing. As white people, we may have multiple intersections of privilege and oppression, and as Spatch writes, a person of colour may also have these too, but fundamentally the systems we live under are structured to oppress those who are not white. In being able to acknowledge that we start to be able to change it. It's like the red pill or blue pill in the matrix, we have the choice to know or not know-it's up to us what we want to do with that.

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Re: Better BME representation in clinical psychology

Postby lingua_franca » Sat Feb 06, 2016 3:11 pm

When we read things like "Structural racism won't change until white people change", there is a tendency to get defensive, to start thinking about ourselves as individuals, comparing ourselves to individuals who are racist (EDL members, for example), and getting upset that the phrase 'white people' would be used in this context - it feels as though we're being lumped in with people who personally hold abhorrent views. When we do this, we change the conversation from a discussion of systemic oppression to a discussion of what we as individuals are like. And whether or not I am a nice individual who holds no EDL-style attitudes has no bearing on whether I benefit from and sometimes even contribute to structural racism in subtle ways. I think StarSky is correct that structural racism won't end until white people are prepared to critically examine our role in it. This does not reflect badly on anyone as an individual.
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Re: Better BME representation in clinical psychology

Postby sparklepants » Sat Feb 06, 2016 9:04 pm

I think pink and lingua are talking a lot of sense - intersectionality is such a crucial concept when discussing privilege, discrimination, and oppression.

As a white person, it was tough for me to acknowledge that while I have no overtly racist beliefs, I have been influenced by a structurally racist society. I've come to terms with the fact that this does not make me a "bad person" - it would be a miracle if my attitudes had not at all been affected by structural racism. This recognition has allowed me to be more aware and more proactive in ensuring that I am not contributing to the maintenance of the status quo. I would be concerned by any mental health practitioner who is not open to hearing about these issues, and would urge them to look into it.
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Re: Better BME representation in clinical psychology

Postby ell » Sun Feb 07, 2016 4:12 pm

sparklepants wrote:I think pink and lingua are talking a lot of sense - intersectionality is such a crucial concept when discussing privilege, discrimination, and oppression.

As a white person, it was tough for me to acknowledge that while I have no overtly racist beliefs, I have been influenced by a structurally racist society. I've come to terms with the fact that this does not make me a "bad person" - it would be a miracle if my attitudes had not at all been affected by structural racism. This recognition has allowed me to be more aware and more proactive in ensuring that I am not contributing to the maintenance of the status quo. I would be concerned by any mental health practitioner who is not open to hearing about these issues, and would urge them to look into it.


Yes. And while people feel it is a 'pity' that the thread has come across these issues, careful examination of people's reaction to these things is actually quite important in understanding what the barriers or challenges might be in engaging everyone in widening the access of BAME individuals to clinical psychology.

Other than the stock response of 'we need to widen access to university for people from BAME groups', I'm not sure what else to do about this. And that makes me feel particularly helpless.

Somebody please tell me there is research out there on what the barriers are for BAME groups to getting into CP?
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Re: Better BME representation in clinical psychology

Postby Spatch » Sun Feb 07, 2016 5:56 pm

ell wrote:
Somebody please tell me there is research out there on what the barriers are for BAME groups to getting into CP?


There was a bps report examining barriers and the reasons why BME candidates find it tough, but this seems no longer available online. However, I like this D.clinpsy thesis that touches on some of the issues.

http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/3560/2/McNeil10ClinPsyD1.pdf
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Re: Better BME representation in clinical psychology

Postby MarkM » Sun Feb 07, 2016 6:09 pm

Great thread, and some interesting discussions here...

Other than the stock response of 'we need to widen access to university for people from BAME groups', I'm not sure what else to do about this. And that makes me feel particularly helpless.

Hmm, I can empathise; I remember feeling similarly helpless. But there are some things we can do, actually. I developed an interest in Widening Access schemes during my undergraduate degree, and I'd say it is possible to do contribute, no doubt. There are many ways we can get involved. Yes, there are systemic barriers and it surely remains a thorny issue, but even little things like one-off events with primary and secondary schools and colleges can make a bit of a difference. However, I know that this can also be tokenistic or patronising, and there's obviously a lot of politics involved... Either way, it is an issue we simply cannot afford to ignore. Oh and it's worth mentioning that there are clinical psychology-specific initiatives we can get involved in (e.g. DCP's BME mentoring programme).

ell wrote:Somebody please tell me there is research out there on what the barriers are for BAME groups to getting into CP?


Yeah, there is some research, though not an awful lot as far as I know. I remember there were a few articles and a bit of a discussion in the Forum (CPF) about this not too long ago? I think Scior et al have also published an article not too long ago (November or so). If you are interested I can send you the PDF. Also, the BPS and DCP have written a bit (Turpin, I think?), and UCL (Katrina Scior in particular) have also been quite involved.
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I am committed to ensuring fair access to clinical psychology. To this end we have studied potential causes of the underrepresentation of individuals from BAME backgrounds in the profession and the effects of educational background on selection across UK training providers, funded by the Clearing House for Clinical Psychology.

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Re: Better BME representation in clinical psychology

Postby miriam » Sun Feb 07, 2016 10:13 pm

Just to say, all the thinking I was doing about BME applicants and barriers to the profession lead me down a weird internet chain and eventually to blog about cultural appropriation and trigger warnings today. But it is interesting how stressful I found it to press publish on these blogs. The level of emotional sensitivity and controversy involved in issues around prejudice and race is enormous, and the ability to accidentally offend someone and end up in the middle of a flame war seems higher than in almost anything I've written before (give or take mentioning gamergate, the sexist group harassing women in video-gaming in a previous blog). So, please, read and give me some (flame-free) feedback!
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Re: Better BME representation in clinical psychology

Postby Jennyp88 » Sun Feb 14, 2016 4:24 pm

I like the fact that people want to do something about the engagement of ethnic minorities into the CP profession, however it is a lot more complicated, as others have previously said and it starts a lot earlier in the structure of education (in terms of representation in education, relationships with teachers etc.). As an aspiring CP myself who is of ethnic origin, the most controversy I face from me wanting to do such a career is from other ethnic minorities, not to generalise, who have the idea that the profession isn't "easy" to get into. Some have also said to me that there are other areas which are more "accepting" to make headway. The other areas being nursing, O.T, even becoming a medic can be far much more easier than being a CP according to them. Another aspect of the conversation is the academic side, where some feel they aren't good enough to be a CP, but could make it as medics as the admissions criteria is a little more relaxed and less competitive.
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Re: Better BME representation in clinical psychology

Postby workingmama » Mon Feb 15, 2016 9:19 am

Thanks for all the thoughts folks. I agree that my thinking needs to come from a position of understanding my White privilege (couldn't agree more), and I love the concepts of intersectionality and kyriarchy. I'm currently re-reading Judy Ryde's book on being White in the Helping Professions, and am at the stage of being ready to act, rather than being stuck in the unhelpful White person's position of poor-me-I-realised-I'm-an-oppressor (read the book if this makes no sense/makes you want to bite people/etc). I wondered about mentoring local BME high school students who might be interested in psychology at some stage, or perhaps thinking about a study group looking at BME psychology - all the writers and researchers and thinkers that don't seem to be well represented in core undergrad texts, and where the current theories might accidentally be white-centric in some of their theory/practice. I'd need to do a lot of self education first, but it was a thought.
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Re: Better BME representation in clinical psychology

Postby kalli » Mon Apr 04, 2016 10:37 am

I just wanted to add a point that I believe as an ethnic minority myself who is trying to get into clinical psychology. That the reason their are so few BME is not just due to prejudice. But also due to the cultures we come from. Psychology is still a new science in the west and in most BME countries psychology isn't established clinically. Therefore a lot of our families believe that doing psychology is a waste of time and you won't get a job, my own family didn't want me to study psychology, they have said why do you want to help mad people. So it's also up to us as ethnic minorities to defy these negative stereotypes in our own communities, a lot of people from my country believe that either mental illness only exist in the west or that their is a spiritual cause and you need to stay away from those people.
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