Intersecting Identities – March 30th 2019

Our Annual Spring Conference this year is looking at how identities are not singular, but instead multiple and overlapping.
Intersectionality explores the interconnected nature of social categorisations such as race, gender, faith and disability/health as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of privilege and disadvantage. The term was coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989 although the dynamics she described, of course, predate this. The majority of the conference will comprise a series of panels which will explore some of the implicit and explicit intersectional issues inside and outside of the therapy room.   .

The conference will look at how both as therapists, and as individuals who ourselves have intersectional identities we navigate the world, and our client relationships. The vital importance of understanding the context within which clients and therapists present, not as a single issue but as complex, multifaceted human beings is woven throughout the day.

Olukemi Amala

We are excited to have Olukemi Amala as our keynote speaker. Olukemi has been a psychotherapist in private practice for over 18 years. She says that “Being a black, queer, disabled wheelchair using feminist”, offers her a view from multiple othered social positions which informs her personal and professional practices. and as you can see from the programme below we will be looking in depth at intersections of race, faith, disability, and gender.

This year we have partnered with OnlineEvents who have agreed to undertake the event administration and who will video the event for their extensive CPD library.  You can book your tickets here for what we hope will be a challenging and ground breaking day..  We are using our usual venue – Resources for London, which is very close to Holloway Road Tube and is fully accessible.

The conference is open to counsellors and psychotherapists, clinical sexologists and psychosexual therapists, counselling and clinical psychologists, and those trained in somatic sexological bodywork and sex coaches.

Programme 
09.00       Registration
09.30       Welcome and Announcements – Dominic Davies CEO Pink Therapy
10.00       Keynote: Intersectionality: Olukemi Amala
10.30       Q&A/Discussion
10.45       Coffee
11:15       Panel: Intersections of Faith 
                Kathy Spooner Chair Association of Christian Counsellors
                Khakan Qureshi  Birmingham South Asians LGBT
                Joel Korn              Judaism
12.15      Panel: Intersections of Disability and Health/Wellness
                Rich Knight                
                Lou Futcher
                Liz Day
13.15       Lunch
14.15       Panel: Intersections of Race & Ethnicity
                Zayna Ratty
                Sabah Choudrey
                Joel Simpson
15.15       Break
15:45       Panel: Intersections of Gender            
                MJ Barker                
                Ellis Johnson
                Leah Davidson
16.45       Conference Closing – and feedback 
17.00       End

Click here to book your tickets for the conference, via Eventbrite. There is an early bird discount until 31 January, when the tickets will rise from £120 to £140.

For those not familiar with Intersectional approaches, here is a great cartoon! 

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Pink Therapy is (almost) Global

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When you see the reach of Pink Therapy, we are almost global. This map shows the location of people who have either attended our Summer School or engaged in a deeper year or two-year-long training programme.

I was in Warsaw last November. Over the three days, I was there, I had a significant epiphany about the profound impact the International Summer Schools we used to run has had on many people’s lives.

Class of 2012

The International Summer School was a five-day not-for-profit intense training and an idea suggested by our Clinical Associate Olivier Cormier-Otaño when he was involved in Pink Therapy’s administration. Olivier was a co-facilitator on each of the events and indeed, along with fellow Clinical Associate, Pamela Gawler-Wright (graduate of the class of 2012), took on the major facilitation roles of the School from 2013-2016 when I decided to launch a more substantive online training which itself has a week-long residential component.

The night I arrived in Warsaw, I had dinner with Dr Daniel Bąk (Daniel attended the second of our Summer Schools in 2011) he is a Gestalt psychologist and involved internationally with other LGBTQ+ Gestalt psychologists and along with my other dinner companion Dr Bartosz Grabski they are co-editors of the first Polish textbook on LGBT psychology. Bartosz attended the Summer School in 2014. He is a consultant psychiatrist and recently became a fellow of the European Society for Sexual Medicine. Bartosz’s primary area of particular interest is in working with trans people in Krakow. He also wrote the Mental Health modules for our online teaching programme.

Graduates of the first European Sexual Diversity Training
Warsaw, November 2018

I was in Warsaw to deliver a pioneering new training – the European Sexual Diversity Training (ESDT) – a three-day intensive course to help psychologists and clinical sexologists understand more about the sexual difficulties of gender, sexuality and relationship diverse populations. It’s a course that Bartosz, I and Dr Agata Loewe co-conceived and wrote. Agata is a graduate of the Class of 2013 and works as a psychologist, clinical sexologist, and she co-founded the Sex Positive Institute in Warsaw. The ESDT was one of my proudest achievements of 2018. To bring together a medically trained sexologist alongside two clinical sexologists working at the cutting edge of alternative and diverse sexualities was an incredible achievement. I think the course is a profoundly life-changing programme with a significant experiential component and the end of course evaluations was incredibly heartening.

One of ESDT participants, Marco Pilia, had travelled from London where he has a private practice and works for a Mental Health charity. Marco is also graduate of the class of 2013 and has gone onto pioneer the development of GSRD therapy for counsellors and hypnotherapists in Rome and is currently putting together a Master’s programme, the first of it’s kind in the world.

Memorandum of Understanding
Version 2

On the second morning in Warsaw, I received an email from Anita Furlong (graduate of the class of 2012). Anita brought a variety of Pink Therapy faculty over to Dublin to deliver some training locally and has subsequently gone on to provide a fair amount of training herself. Anita is currently holding the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (IACP) to account and ‘encouraging’ them to adopt the recently updated Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy. This document has been signed by virtually all the leading British Psy/Therapy bodies

Earlier in the Summer, I had the pleasure of travelling to Edinburgh at the invitation of Jo Russell (class of 2013) who has now just graduated from our Diploma programme and joined the Faculty as one of our Clinical Case Discussion tutors (alongside, Daniel, Agata and Olivier). Jo had invited me to deliver a workshop for the ‘Rainbow Therapists’ a group she has set up for people north of the border. They will be hosting their first National Conference in May 2019.

One of the other participants in Warsaw is the partner of Aleksi Jalava (Class of 2013), and you can read about how his career has developed here. Aleksi was the first of our graduates to respond to my invitation to share their lives since the Summer School with us and an enthusiastic supporter of Pink Therapy, having travelled from Finland for many of our training courses and conferences.

More blogs will be forthcoming from other Summer School Graduates.

When I think about what has been so profoundly inspiring about the International Summer Schools, I believe is the opportunity to share our life stories in a safe space where the whole person can be present, where the majority of the people attending identify as GSRD. Also the opportunity to meet and learn from people across the globe and who remain in touch with each other as part of an international support network is another important factor. Indeed, I’ve harnessed some of this incredible knowledge and energy by having some of the graduates join the faculty of our international online training courses.

Dominic Davies
CEO – Pink Therapy
January 1st 2019

Anita Furlong Class of 2012

Anita Furlong

In 2011 I was midway through my degree in Counselling and Psychotherapy and trying to come to terms with the fact that, despite the avowed inclusivity, the hours spent telling us how open we, as therapists, would need to be, how unbiased we should be, what actually existed were, at best giant blind spots and at worst implicit, (and on one occasion explicit) biases towards diversity is not just within the institution I studied but, from what I could see, the profession as a whole.

As the only ‘out’ student in my class, I spent an awful lot of time searching for something, anything at all I could relate to. I was searching for support for myself and also training and information about working with GSD clients, as I had decided that this was an area I wanted to specialise working in.  I found little or nothing.  I had support from friends in my class and as much understanding as they were capable of giving but I could see nothing either in my college or in the Counselling and Psychotherapeutic profession as a whole in Ireland, that I felt was supportive of me as a GSD identified therapist-in-training or pointing towards where I could get training and further education on working with GSD clients.   I received many words of support in this search, many people who told me that yes there needed to be more (some! any!) training around working with GSD clients how important further education and specialist knowledge was, but there was nothing out there that I could find.

Summer School 2012 Flyer

It wasn’t until I came across the Pink Therapy books, edited by Dominic Davies and Charles Neal that finally, I started to find the kind of information I was looking for.   Through the Pink Therapy website, I discovered that they delivered training and one of the courses was a Summer School.  Five days of intensive training in all the things I could not find here at home.   As soon as I saw this, I knew I had to attend as this programme was just what I was looking for. The logistics of this were not going to be easy for me, a lone parent with a part-time job, already struggling to pay for my training but, I was lucky to qualify for a bursary, and in August 2012 I set off on what was to be one of the most transformative experiences of my life.

It is difficult to articulate just how deeply the Summer School affected me on both a personal and professional level.  The generosity of both spirit and knowledge, of Dominic and his colleagues, most especially Olivier Cormier-Otaño and Pamela Gawler-Wright who both attended and assisted Dominic that year was wonderful to experience.  Talking with the other attendees who came, quite literally from all over the world and hearing their experiences and exchanging knowledge was a wonderful experience.  I acquired more reading material through that week and subsequently from Dominic than I think I could ever read.  I later described the feeling there as ‘coming home’ it answered questions I did not even realise I was asking.

Their generosity also extended to evenings where volunteers took the time to show us some fascinating and relevant places in London, some of which was quite an eye opening experience!!

Our first training in Dublin 2013

I am in no way overstating when I say this week and Dominic’s teaching set the course of my professional career.  The following year I invited Dominic to deliver training here in Ireland which he very generously allowed me to co-train with him.  He, Olivier and Amanda Middleton came over on other occasions to provide further training, and I also developed and delivered training over the next number of years here.

In my private practice, I specialise in working with GSD clients and deliver some in-house training.  I was honoured to be invited by Dominic to become a Clinical Associate of Pink Therapy when he expanded to include international therapists in this category and to be awarded Advanced Accredited status as a GSRD therapist.

Towards the end of 2018, myself and some colleagues here in Ireland who have come together as a GSD Interest Group and who have also done some training with Pink Therapy, approached Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy who are the largest accrediting body here in Ireland, to formally prohibit the use of reparative or conversion therapy by any of its members.  This was taken to their board of directors on 14th December, and we are waiting to hear the outcome of this.  This would be another step forward in promoting best practice with GSD clients here in Ireland, and we hope from it more attention will be paid to training therapists in working with GSD clients.

When I look back at the journey I have taken in my career leading to this point, I can trace so much of it back to my experience of the Pink Therapy Summer School of 2012 and cannot thank Dominic and all the others involved in it enough.

Anita Furlong  December 2018

https://www.oakleafcounselling.com/

No longer in the minority

A photpgraph of Robert, smiling, in front of trees, wearing a blue rain jacket.

I first became aware of Pink Therapy when Dominic came to the University of Nottingham to do a talk as part of my degree studies. I was very fortunate that my course included some training on working with gender, sexuality and relationship diversity [GSRD] clients. This sparked my interest in attending further trainings provided by Pink Therapy, as I felt that it was important for me to expand my knowledge in this area. I had a wonderful experience attending the international summer school in 2013, and really valued the experience brought by the trainers and my course peers from all around the world. I remember thinking, it was such a unique experience to share the learning in an environment where I felt I really belonged, and wasn’t in the minority for once!


When I had the chance in 2015 to attend the two year Post-Graduate Diploma in Gender, Sexuality and Relationship Diversity, I jumped at the chance, as I knew the quality of trainers that are involved in all Pink Therapy training. I found the course to be fantastic, and it covered all aspects of issues that may arise when working with GSRD clients. The overall support provided by the faculty was incredible, and I feel very honoured to have been in the first cohort of students, to complete the mostly online training. I wouldn’t hesitate doing it all over again, and the residential week was a truly empowering experience. I now approach my work with GSRD clients with a renewed competence, and am even mentoring/ supervising some of the current Pink Therapy students!

Robert Patterson
Psychotherapist in Private Practice
Co. Kerry, Republic of Ireland.
http://www.robertpatterson-counselling.com

From Glasgow…

In July 2013 I attended an “International Summer School” run by Pink Therapy? Why?

Jo Russell

I was a therapist of 10 years’ experience. I had trained as a therapist while living ‘by faith’ as a Christian Missionary on a faith-based diploma course. We had one day on ‘talking about sex with clients’. That was it. Nothing on LGBT ‘issues’. I didn’t even know what Q meant. By 2013 being a therapist had changed me and I was no longer a missionary, although I hadn’t walked away from my faith. In supervision I recognised that I could no longer excuse my ignorance, I needed to confront myself. 

And that is something I like about myself: when I make a decision I go all the way. Where would my ignorance be most confronted? Where would I be most confronted? Google directed me to Pink Therapy (I never did like the colour pink), and I began to explore training possibilities. London was too far away for short workshops (I live in Glasgow), but a week… A week would give me the opportunity to learn, not just to catch a glimpse of something, to build new connections.

The International part of Summer School was significant for me. That aspect of diversity I was comfortable with. I had travelled the world. I was accustomed to different cultures and languages; I felt at home with them. Perhaps that helped me to feel less defensive, more open to new things?

I had to raise the money; friends and family helped. But that week was career changing. It was life changing. I still work in private practice, and 90% of my clients have stories of diversity in gender, relational styles or sexuality. I am immensely grateful for the opportunity I was afforded, and for those who believed in me, accepted me, and allowed me to move from where I was, without pressure. 

Since then I have found the confidence to do more than I believed possible. I completed the 2 year Pink Therapy Post-graduate diploma in working with gender, sexual and relational diversity, and am now part of the faculty for the Foundation Certificate course. I still attend (and hopefully contribute to) Pink Therapy conferences, and recently presented a paper for the Psychology of Sexualities section of the British Psychological Society. Since Pink therapy is London-based, and since the experience of being GSRD north of the border is different, I have started a group (www.rainbowtherapyscotland.org.uk) which meets as a peer-led networking and CPD opportunity for those working therapeutically in a non-pathologising way with GSRD clients. We will have our first national conference in May 2019. 

Below are some extracts of my journal, written during That Week. They are unaltered, and I hope they give a flavour of my experience of summer school. 

Day One: “I realised just how cloistered I have been and in some ways how naive and inexperienced I am. But during the course of the day I noticed a subtle change in myself, reminiscent of my first trip to Central Asia. “They” went from being labels, categories, types to being “thou” in the old use of the word, someone I know, respect, and identify with, a fellow human being with a whole lifetime of a story to tell, and with whom I have far more in common than I have different.”

Day Two: “If day 1 felt rich, day 2 stirred a much deeper personal commitment to engage in this work therapeutically, and an emotional response to those who have lived through deeper and more scarring experiences than I could have imagined. May God be my helper.”

Day Three: “This week is changing me on the inside. It seems to me that as humans we can feel intimidated by the things we know little about or have little experience of. The unknown can be scary; at the same time we feel drawn to it and hold back from it. We need not fear. Human is human; it just may sound different on the outside.”

Day Four: “The diversity within the group of life experience and of background and personality added to rather than strained the dynamic. We were all able to listen to each other and so no-one felt constrained to shout over any group consensus to make their individual voice heard.”

Day Five: “To all of you who made it possible for me to be here, please know that not only am I grateful to you for your generosity, but I hope my future clients will also be grateful without knowing it. You are investing in them as well as me. Thank you for believing in me and valuing them!”

Joanna Russell

jo1russell@gmail.com

A Finnish Psychotherapist’s Thoughts

Aleksi Jalava

ON THE 2013 SUMMER SCHOOL

I am a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist from Finland. When I attended the summer school back in 2013 I was on my third year of my (four years) Training of cognitive-integrative psychotherapy. I learned so much, something that was not included at all in my own psychotherapy training! After the summer school I started writing my diploma work ”GSRD therapy in cognitive-integrative psychotherapy”. Based on this text, I later expanded it into a booklet which was (and still is) the only one written in Finnish language on this very topic. It has been so rewarding to hear from clinicians that the booklet has been helpful and they have learned a lot from it. After the Training of cognitive-integrative psychotherapy I took a one year Training of couples therapy and wrote another diploma work: ”GSRD therapy in couples and relationships psychotherapy”.

Together with the booklet I introduced seminars intended for psychologists, psychotherapists and psychiatrists and started running these basically around the country. Not only private clinicians have been interested but also the public healthcare sector organizations. For example, next spring I am one of the invited speakers in a seminar organized by Helsinki university hospital. I am also trying to make the organizers of Finnish psychotherapy trainings interested in making GSRDT topics part of the four year psychotherapy training programmes organized in this country – just one day would be great! In the spring of 2019 it is going to happen the first time when my seminar day will be part of Solution-focused therapy training. I am so excited about this! Earlier, my seminar day was already a part of a couples therapy training organized in my hometown Turku. 

At the moment I am taking a 2,5 years Training of trainer and supervisor of cognitive-integrative psychotherapy, which means that after this I can lead psychotherapy trainings organized by the Finnish universities. Yet another diploma work, including research, is on the way – you can guess the topic! After this training I can have so much more influence in what is included in psychotherapy trainings offered.

What I learned in the 2013 summer school has of course given me so much as a clinician and helped me to be a better, more skilful psychotherapist. I can also remember the summer as a period of deep personal growth, figuring out who am I as a psychotherapist and what it means to be a gay psychotherapist. Naturally, these are questions I have also worked through in my own personal psychotherapy, am still doing that, and most probably always will in my own mind. After all, it is a never ending journey! Without all that I learned in the summer school and the process it started in my mind, I think I would never have made it this far, would not have been able to learn so much about myself, too! And most importantly, without the summer shool’s teachings, I clearly would have been less helpful for my patients.

Thank you so much Pink Therapy summer school 2013!
Aleksi Jalava

Psychologist/Psychotherapist – Finland

http://www.sateenkaarisohva.fi

Guest Blog: Dr Igi Moon

We’re reproducing the speech Igi Moon made at the Parliamentary Launch for the new and revised Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Conversion Therapy.  This document extends the protections afforded to lesbians, gay men and bisexual people from receiving harmful attempts to be heterosexual.  This new document protects people who are gender diverse and those who are asexual from treatments from therapists.

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Parliamentary MoU2 launch event – 4th July 2018

“I am here as Chair of the MoU Coalition against conversion therapy. The coalition is made up of 16 organisations as well as advisory bodies offering clinical and therapeutic services to LGBTQIA people. Together we represent over 100, 000 psychologists, psychotherapists, counsellors and healthcare workers.

The main purpose of today’s launch is for MP’s to meet with clinicians and campaigners ahead of the Government’s pledge to ‘end the practice of Conversion Therapy’. While the media yesterday reported an outright ban, we believe a ban will simply play into the hands of organisations that want publicity.

Yesterday – was the launch of the LGBT National survey. 108,100 people responded to the survey. It is the largest of its kind in the world. That is something all LGBT people can be proud of. But while we celebrate this survey we need to take a close look at the finer details of what it is saying about LGBT lives in our society. Because some findings make very uncomfortable reading. They tell a story that is all too familiar to LGBT people who still experience significant inequalities and fear for their personal safety – inequalities and fears that may well take them to see therapists. This is why we want all clinicians in training and practice to be made aware of the range of issues presented in the survey. And for all clinicians to be able to work competently with LGBT people

It is central that LGBT people can explore their feelings and thoughts in safety whether or not it is about their sexuality and/or gender identity with a qualified psychologist, psychotherapist, counsellor, or healthcare worker.

Shockingly, this is simply not the case. In our society, some people believe (for whatever reason) that LGBT people can be ‘cured’ of their sexuality or gender identity if they are LGBT.  Through the use of Conversion Therapy (CT), also known as Reparative or Cure Therapy). More shockingly, they believe that the techniques of CT will suppress or change an LGBT person. These techniques include anything from pseudo-psychological treatments to spiritual counselling. At their most extreme, people in the survey reported undergoing surgical or hormonal interventions or even ‘corrective rape’. It is abhorrent as a practice.

Yesterday, the survey found that a total 7% of respondents had undergone or been offered Conversion Therapy and of this, 2% had undergone and 5% had been offered CT.

It is a very live issue – with young people16-24 more likely to have been offered CT than any other group.

The MoU Coalition published this MoU before the Survey results were announced because we were faced with mounting anecdotal evidence  that we needed to protect  sexual orientation including asexuality AND the variety of gender identities

Thanks to the survey we sadly find that anecdotal evidence was correct.

The survey found

  1. In terms of sexual orientation, Asexual people are the most likely group to undergo and be offered conversion therapy
  2. In relation to Gender Identity – Trans respondents were much more likely to have undergone or been offered conversion therapy more than cis people.
  3. That more trans men have been offered CT than non-binary people or trans women
  4. That more trans women have had conversion therapy than trans men or non-binary people
  5. That those most likely to have been offered CT or undergone CT live in Northern Ireland and London

So, who conducts CT to cis and Trans people?

  1. By far the greatest are faith organisations
  2. Healthcare or a medical professional is second – (with far more trans people being offered CT than cis people)
  3. Parent or guardian or family member
  4. Person from my community
  5. Other individuals or organisations

The fact healthcare and medical professionals conduct CT is a major shock and the MOU is asking that ethical practice is at the core of therapeutic work. This means practitioners must have adequate knowledge and understanding of gender and sexual diversity throughout their training before they can be accredited, registered or chartered. BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY IT MEANS ASKING LGBT PEOPLE WHAT THEY NEED – ESPECIALLY TRANS AND NON BINARY PEOPLE.

Both the BPS and BACP have published guidelines for working with gender and sexual minorities. This is a good start but not enough.

Our Training and Curriculum Development sub-Committee find that while organisations say they want to USE THE GUIDELINES AND TRAIN PEOPLE EFFECTIVELY – IN over 7 years of training, it has been found that anything between zero and 16 hours max are spent in total teaching ‘difference’. This needs to change.

Yesterday, the overwhelming statement was

   “This practice (of CT) needs to end”

The Government Equalities Office action plan is to bring an end to the practice of CT.

We want to work with the government on legislative and non-legislative options.

At present we say no to an outright ban because CT is conducted by people who are obviously not therapists in some cases and would not call what they do anything more than a cure for a sickness. It needs more than a ban – it requires education at a young age that allows young people to be who they are without fear.

Likewise, it is still possible in this country to call yourself a counsellor or psychotherapist as these are not protected titles.  We believe that the Government must address this issue.

Where is the MOU next?

2 areas the MOU Coalition are likely to address:

Support for the GRA review because it is a once in a lifetime opportunity for trans people to experience wide ranging social change. We must recognise the variety of gender identities as valid. As the Minister for Women and Equalities the Rt Honourable Penny Mordaunt Minister stated yesterday to a ringing round of applause:  “a trans woman is a woman and a transman is a man” and we would add that those who wish to identify in the wide range of gender identities have that option. This is because the survey clearly identified that non-binary identities are on the rise and more respondents identified as non-binary

Second, we hope the General Synod will use the survey and our MoU as an opportunity to extend protection to Trans and non-binary people

Third we all – all of us have a debt to our future young people. We must remember that a central finding yesterday was 2000 people identified starting their transition AT SCHOOL. The survey only started from age 16

The MOU Coalition have brought on board those organisations such as Gendered Intelligence and Mermaids that work with young people under 16 to offer their thoughts about protecting these vulnerable children and teenagers. We are already hearing young people are the victims of Conversion therapy – sometimes in medical settings where we would expect safety. This must be investigated as a matter of urgency. We urge the Government to find out what is happening with young people who identify as LGBT and non-binary.

On a final note,

Over 2/3 of respondents stated they would not hold hands with their partner in public. It is pride on Saturday.  I want to hold hands with the person I love. On Saturday, I want us all to be able to hold hands with those we love in public and in safety because

TO LIVE IN SAFETY IS OUR FREEDOM

AND TO HAVE OUR FREEDOM IS THE GREATEST FORM OF EQUALITY WE CAN SHARE

Thanks to Ben Bradshaw MP for hosting this event, to our speakers. I would like to thank all members of the Coalition and especially Rosie Horne from the BPS for working so hard to bring this event together.