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Culture on the couch

7 April 2022

In response the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘Why in therapy one size does not fit all,’ aired on 29 March 2022, the British Association for Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP) would like to reiterate its position on racism within mental healthcare. As a member-led organisation it is important that we support the needs of our diverse communities as well as our membership to ensure Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is accessible for all.

We are proud of our efforts on anti-racism actions and have worked closely with our Equality & Culture Special Interest Group, our Board, staff and our diverse communities. We recognise that these efforts need to be a lifelong commitment.

Some of our work to date includes supporting the implementation of the IAPT BAME Positive Practice Guide, mentoring clinicians from racially-minoritised backgrounds to publish articles in our journals and our members’ magazine, community outreach work, collaborating with community organisations to develop Let's Talk Equality videos, translating information about CBT and commonly used measures in services, and delivering workshops on culturally competent therapy and supervision. To follow this, a workshop on working with interpreters is being planned. Another will offer training to CBT Trainers on culture and ethnicity, with a series of webinars to follow for our members. Our Scientific Committee and Conference Planning Group also ensure our conference programmes reflect the needs of diverse communities including the South Asian community whose mental health needs have traditionally been overlooked.

Our accreditation service has instigated a major consultation and review of our Minimum Training Standards and Core Curriculum, and updates are due to be published in the near future. We have included more to ensure that CBT training, continuing professional development and supervision includes specific personal development in these areas. This is training, skills and reflection which relate to promoting inclusion, awareness of diversity and understanding oppressions and discrimination associated with ethnicity, race, culture, gender & gender diversity, sexual orientation, faith, age, disabilities, neurodiversity and individual differences. Training will take into account the impact these intersections have on mental health and therapy.

We recognise representation in senior leadership teams in mental health services is important. Our Equality & Culture Special Interest Group has mentored and supported therapists applying for senior leadership roles within the NHS and also with their experiences of bullying and racism, for example, whilst undergoing disciplinary processes where complaints have not been upheld.

Whilst we acknowledge we have a role to play in ensuring we eradicate racism from within mental health care, in particular CBT, we would welcome the opportunity to work collaboratively with the NHS Race and Health Observatory and other organisations including the NHS on a shared vision to eliminate inequalities in mental health for those from Black Asian and Minority Ethnic communities. Allocating ring-fenced resources will enable mental health providers to do targeted work. It is important to clarify that we must all take responsibility for this work and not lay the burden of responsibility on therapists from racially-minoritised backgrounds.

Links –

BABCP anti-racism statement 

Culture on the Couch – Why in therapy one size does not fit all (BBC Sounds) 

‘What is CBT?’ & translations 

IAPT BAME Service User Positive Practice Guide 

Let’s Talk Equality

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