6 July: Decolonising Psychotherapy as an Ethic of Disillusionment

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Decolonising Psychotherapy as an Ethic of Disillusionment 

This is the latest in a series of seminars on Decolonising Psychoanalysis, organised by the Race and Culture Committee of the Guild of Psychotherapists. The series is intended to open up conversations about psychoanalysis and psychotherapy by initiating Psycho-Philosophical Dialogues between academic philosophers and psychotherapists, bringing clinical responses to the academic decolonial work.

A recording of the seminar will be available to ticket-holders for a month after the event.

Decolonising Psychotherapy as an Ethic of Disillusionment
Nini Kerr
with Dr. Tarun Pamneja (respondent)

Saturday 6 July 2024
3:00pm - 5:00pm BST

Online seminar £12 - £24 Book here 

Abstract - Dr. Nini Kerr

“Susie looks unsettled as she enters the room. Planting herself down in the chair, she holds onto the armrests as if preparing for a thunderstorm in the therapeutic terrain. Her subdued smile and offhand comments about the weather do little to disguise her agitation…”
This presentation explores what it means to contest the Eurocentric system of therapeutic practice, and the demands it places on non-white practitioners. It delves into the challenges of decolonising psychotherapy in action, addressing crucial questions not at all easy to answer, surrounding what it means, what it takes, and, most importantly, how we are set back in navigating a decolonial approach to therapeutic care. Rather than assuming a linear progression towards a more equitable therapeutic future, it focuses instead on psychoanalysis’ ancient preoccupation with whiteness, which bears upon the practice. I invite the audience into my consulting room to witness the often palpable yet unspoken tension surrounding ‘race’. I stage a series of therapeutic encounters between myself (as the practitioner) and Susie (the client, pseudonym) as two women of colour, showing how the intersectional workings of oppression from ‘outside’ can be reproduced in the consulting room. I offer my reflections on these ‘failings’ and connect them with Layton’s (2019) concept of the ‘ethic of disillusionment’. Through this, I highlight the tension between conceptual relations and social relations: how our ‘devotion’ to a theory recreates within the therapeutic relationships the pervasive differential relations in psychoanalytic syntax.




Speakers’ Biographies

Nini Kerr has engaged in extensive research critically exploring the lived experiences of marginalised communities. Her research delves into the intricate and nuanced connections between identity, psychological experiences, and social reality, providing actionable insights into the impact of various forms of inequality. She is a Lecturer in Counselling, Psychotherapy, and Applied Social Sciences at the University of Edinburgh, and an accredited trainer and practitioner. She has published extensively in the field of psychosocial studies and recently won the Good Practice Research Award in the Positive Disruptor category in 2022, in recognition of her sustained achievements in innovating and revitalising research practices that promote social justice and equality. She has been awarded the Principal's Teaching Award Scheme for her project on decolonising counselling and psychotherapy (2023-2024). She is a Scholar of the British Psychoanalytic Council and serves on the Executive Board for the Association for Psychosocial Studies and the Editorial Board for Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society.

Tarun Pamneja is a Doctor of Integrative Psychotherapy and Counselling Psychology and now works in private practice as a psychotherapist and supervisor. He has three decades of professional experience in the mental health arena, with extensive experience of working in the NHS and charities supporting people diagnosed with severe mental illness and emotional distress. For his doctoral research, he investigated Conflict Within Psychosis Treatment in the English NHS: Investigating the Experiences of Patients and Psychiatrists. His main interests are the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, disability and morality.

Bursary tickets A limited number of bursary tickets are available on a pay-what-you-can basis to anyone who would not be able to attend the event without financial assistance. To apply for a bursary ticket please email ivan_talks@guildofpsychotherapists.org.uk. Thank you.

CPD certificates available on request.

Organised by the Race and Culture Committee of the Guild of Psychotherapists.

Caption: Image above from the Jardim Miriam Arte Club (JAMAC), a therapeutic group in São Paulo, Brazil. Photo: Ana Minozzo