THE BOWLBY CENTRE STUDENTS AND EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES
Equal opportunities is not about political correctness or policing, it is about developing awareness of the real world issues that face our clients and which exclude many from therapeutic support. As a student at The Bowlby Centre you are working towards integrating the values of the organisation into your understanding of the world so that they can feed your relationships with your colleagues and therapeutic practice as a psychotherapist in training and ultimately as a member of The Bowlby Centre. The nuances of difference and power are an inevitable part of human interaction and a therapy organisation is not immune to these dynamics, but by naming and working openly and confidently with difference we can hopefully alleviate some of the harm caused by unconscious prejudice. The Bowlby Centre has a commitment to accessibility and equality for all which means that all members of the organisation share the responsibility for anti-discriminatory practice in relation to race, culture, gender, sexuality, age, (dis)ability, religion, class, educational and learning style and so forth.
THE BOWLBY CENTRE VALUES
We believe that:
mental distress has its origin in failed and inadequate attachment relationships in early life and is best treated in the context of a long-term human relationship.
attachment relationships are shaped in the real world and impacted upon by poverty, discrimination and social inequality. The impact of the social world will be part of the therapy.
psychotherapy should be available to all, and from an attachment-based psychoanalytic perspective, especially those discriminated against or described as “unsuitable” for therapy.
psychotherapy should be provided with respect, warmth, openness, a readiness to interact and relate, and free from discrimination of any kind.
those who have been silenced about their experiences and survival strategies must have their reality acknowledged and not pathologised.
The Bowlby Centre values inclusiveness, access, diversity, authenticity and excellence. All participants in our organisation share the responsibility for anti discriminatory practice in relation to race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, age, (dis)ability, religion, class, educational and learning style.
Some things to consider:
- Composition of your training group – The diversity ‘make up’ of the training group that you are part of may not be readily apparent Members of minority groups may feel silenced, you may be a member of a group where you feel marginalised for example with only one black member, or where gay and lesbian students are in the minority or where your history of surviving trauma leaves you feeling more like one of “them” than “us”. Mindful of collective responsibility are there ways in which you could contribute to making your group feel safer for all members? As a student it is important for you to recognise the variety of perspectives other than that of the majority. (The Bowlby Centre are currently engaged in outreach and development to address the lack of representation of certain communities in the student body and membership.)
- The relationship between the group members and the subject matter Students are a fantastic resource for each other as you bring incredible diversity of understanding and life experience. It may also be helpful if we all take responsibility for noticing what perspective (or who) is absent or silent when discussing seminar material, for example in an all white or a single gender group ensuring that someone from a minority within the group does not end up having to hold sole responsibility for voicing that perspective – for example a black student habitually having to speak about race issues or a gay student having to make the rest of the group aware that the material is excluding can be a process which reaffirms the marginalisation of that individual.
- Conflict and Challenge – Whilst exploring the (often evocative) teaching material we all have the tough job of managing the tension between the values that we uphold at The Bowlby Centre and reaching our full potential through authentic relating from our unique perspective. It can be freeing to remember that we all carry with us the prejudices of our upbringing within our given familial and socio cultural context and in voicing what we feel may at times be unaware of how this impacts upon others. Things can be said in the heat of the moment that we may later regret. None of us are perfect and concepts of respect, ‘rupture and repair’, and collegiality can be helpful in the way that we share our thoughts and opinions and in coming back from the inevitable breaches between us and colleagues.
However, it is also important to be clear on what constitutes a serious breach of our values. Racism, sexism, homophobia, disability discrimination, pathologising and so forth are not acceptable.
- The Curriculum – It is fair to say that many of the papers that we make reference to can display bias or uncomfortable use of language – for example some very useful papers are incredibly Eurocentric, written from the perspective of heterophilia or pathologising of certain groups. It can be helpful to remember the original context of that material in terms of socio cultural bias, for example where statistics see overrepresentation of certain communities explaining why in relation to historical context or who is making the assessment.
When a student feels marginalised. Do not be concerned about asking for support. You are not alone! – Talk to your colleagues, and course tutor or approach a member of the organisation who you feel safe with.