Feeling despondent

Despondent Dominic!

I’ve heard some strange and troubling things in my career from clients, and friends about their previous therapists, and a recent example from one middle-aged man that his former therapist didn’t think he was gay because he initiates sex with his wife! It prompted me to ask some of my colleagues about their experiences, and many of their examples alarmed me and redoubled my passion for training therapists to work more effectively with their Gender, Sexuality and Relationship Diverse (GSRD) clients.

As readers of this blog will know, Pink Therapy has been an active member of a coalition working group of all the leading psy/therapy organisations discussing steps to bring about the end of Conversion Therapy for gender and sexual diversity. The Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy states:

To this end, we are running running three workshops around the country for therapy trainers to come and share what they’ve already been doing that works well and learn more about a four-stage training model I have developed over my almost 40-year career in delivering training to therapists in this area. We’re holding in London, Manchester and Glasgow because we think face-to-face contact will be more effective at creating the depth of discussion necessary and allowing networks to be built between cisgender heterosexual and LGBT trainers. three, two-day training workshops

But bookings so far have been light. We’ve plastered information all over the Facebook counselling groups, and LinkedIn, we’ve shared the information with the Coalition signatories. The National Counselling Society have told their members and accredited training courses about the workshop. We’ve directly emailed the BACP Accredited courses. I had hoped that by now, the London course would be full, as it is happening in the middle of next month. While we’re oversubscribed on requests from LGBT therapists to attend on training bursaries, so far, very few training courses have decided to send any of their staff (a notable exception being the Contemporary Institute for Clinical Sexology whose Director and GSRD Trainer have been active members on the Coalition working group representing COSRT).

I am still hopeful that we will get some more Counsellor Trainers eager to get a handle on how to embrace the training needs of their students in preparing them to work with GSRD clients, and to share their dilemmas and experience, but if I’m honest, I am not too optimistic.

What do you think is going on? Is it arrogance? Is it cisgender heteronormative prejudice? Is it ignorance? Is it naivety that people don’t know what they don’t know? Or that they don’t think their students need to know very much at all about working with GSRD people as we’re “all the same”? Even as I write this, I am aware it may come across as angry or off-putting. The dilemma of passionately knowing students are being let down, and clients are being harmed whilst trying to encourage those invested in the current system is one which I find myself having to navigate whenever I challenge the status quo.

It’s troubling, and I’m left wondering if we need an independent training route for people who want to specialise in working with GSRD clients because mainstream organisations are failing in their duty of care and responsibilities to prepare therapists adequately. This is something I’ve written about twice before (for Therapy Today and The Psychotherapist). Perhaps we need route that circumvents mainstream Diplomas in Counselling and Psychotherapy. However, given that the core of being person-centred is hope, a belief that positive change can occur, I cannot totally give up on my peers and contemporaries who in colleges, universities and training institutions across the land are educating the next generation of counsellors and psychotherapists. Indeed, I do not want to give up on them, these workshops are designed to support them in their work! Working as I have over the years with so many allies who have devoted their time and energy to improving the LGBT experience, I know that things can improve and have to believe that the GSRD aware trainers course can be part of that positive change and growth.

Dominic Davies
October 2019

How we got shortlisted for the National Diversity Awards

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The first step in our nomination for the National Diversity Awards was when Andrea Roth who translated two of our recent papers into her native German as part of our Translations Project submitted our name.  Andrea joined our team of volunteer translators a couple of years ago and we’re now covering almost all the major languages of the world. Her nomination was completely unsolicited and unexpected.

We then ran a small social media campaign asking for support of the nomination and the next we heard was we were asked to submit to the judges some background on the organisation and what we do.  The text below is what we sent in.

National Diversity Awards 2013 Nomination

Pink Therapy is the largest independent therapy organisation to provide information and therapeutic support to the LGBTIQ+ communities. We see our role as not to duplicate direct service provision through the voluntary sector in offer centre based counselling, but rather to provide a wider framework, training counsellors and therapists of all sexualities and genders to better understand LGBTIQ+ communities, and to contribute to the debate about service provision and commenting on issues of concern for our communities from a sex-positive perspective.  Our website and social media work are important points of contact with the LGBTIQ+ communities.

We look beyond the more regular LGBT sector and take a wider view of gender and sexual diversity, providing therapy and training around other disenfranchised and marginalised groups including Asexuality, BDSM/Kink, Intersex and those in consensually non monogamous relationships of all sexualities and genders.  We’ve provided a support group for asylum seekers and refugees and offered training for therapists on this issue too.

Funding and Staffing
Our work is largely done by the goodwill of a couple of part time volunteers/interns and the work of our Founder and Director, Dominic Davies. We receive no grants or external funding and is funded from the small profit on course training fees and client fees from Dominic’s private practice.

Services to the Communities
Our website contains a fairly extensive knowledge base of websites and self help books which can help people who can’t afford therapy or where clients in therapy can engage in bibliotherapy to augment and enhance the therapeutic process.

Our Directory of Pink Therapists offers a national online database of therapists of all gender and sexualities who offer non-pathologising therapy.  We hope to expand this to include complementary therapists who understand some of the specific challenges of LGBTIQ+ health issues

Pink Therapy’s founder and director has gathered a team of highly skilled Clinical Associates who contribute to raising the standards of therapy available to the LGBTIQ+ communities through offering consultation and clinical supervision of other therapists as well as contributing to our world renowned and highly respected extensive training programme. Our clinical associates have generally all contributed to the field through publishing, speaking at conferences and are recognised in their own professional fields as leading the development of raising the quality of services to the LGBTIQ+ communities

International Development
We were invited to become members of International Lesbian and Gay Association.  We’re also members of the World Association for Sexual Health and World Professional Association for Transgender Health.

We’re very committed to working internationally to help the mental health   of LGBTIQ+ overseas through training therapists and psychologists.  In the past two years our Director has visited Colombia Dublin and Malta and will be visiting Hungary and Brazil in the next two months.

For the past four years we have fundraised and run a week long International Summer School with therapists coming from  Benin (West Africa) Brazil x2, Columbia, Croatia, Eire x3, Denmark x2, England x4, Finland, France, Hungary, Italy x3, Northern Ireland x2 Poland x2, Portugal, Scotland x2,  Serbia x2, Singapore x3, Spain x2, Turkey, USA x2.  One each course we offer a bursary to a trans* counsellor and have been very active in supporting trans* people.

With help from a team of volunteers have translated some of our recent publications into a range of languages.  Now covering about 80% of the world.

We are active in social media and print media, responding to requests from journalists and editors and recognise our wider experience and expertise.  We recently appointed an intern Press office who’s written about some of our achievements on our Press Release page We’re on Facebook with almost 1200 likes. We’re on Twitter with 1500 followers. LinkedIN 1,146 connections and recently began this blog.

We then heard we were shortlisted from over 4k applicants to be one of three LGBT community organisations up for an award.  Amazing!

We were asked to submit a short 60 second video on why we should win (click link or see below)

Pamela Gawler-Wright and I will attend the awards ceremony and find out how we did on 20 September.  We’ve never been externally recognised by anyone before like this and so it’s exciting to have even got this far!

Wish us luck!

Dominic Davies
Director