Kwanda: Men’s Group

New Dynamic
Sometimes words simply aren’t enough to describe an experience. I believe Tank said it best in the Matrix when he said “It’s a very exciting time.” Or words to that effect about Neo joining the Nebudchanezzar and finally waking up.

Go Global
Earlier this year I had a compelling conversation with Kwanda. Their interest was about putting together a therapy group for Black people. The group had the potential to attract members from Kwanda’s global village. Potentially people could attend group therapy from the Caribbean, countries in the continent of Africa, people from The UK, the America’s and from Europe.

Topics
On Wednesday 12th of June 2020 the 1st group began. 3 men were able to dial in and begin initially talking about their general matters of concern. The Lockdown, CoViD19, work and finance being under threat or stopping, being with protestors for a range of reasons with the public outcry for justice for George Floyd, some choosing to find another way to lend their support.

Having Substance
Jumping into It


Unknown
Once it became clear that the vision of Kwanda had been realised a joyful exuberance about facilitating this group over took me. I grew confident something of significance had been achieved!  That 3 Black men who had previously not known each other, could discuss via Zoom, topics that were of interest and concern for us all, and related to the other virtual attendees of the group was a remarkable outcome of the 1st encounter.

Growth
The 60 minutes passed quickly and were filled with moments of genuine laughter, surprise, empathy and disappointment shared by all to all. The 3 were quick to note how comfortable they felt about discussing some of the things they had found within the group. A felt sense of knowing the other, without the need for pretence or hiding behind masks of pseudo masculinity was what I sought to experience and did.

After
Some had engaged with therapy before and felt that whilst IAPT support had been useful, it hadn’t resolved their primary concern for engaging in therapy. The men stated that a free form discussion was useful in the beginning. The men shared that they were also interested in tackling personal topics in a more focused and direct way.

Zoom
The 1 hour passed in what felt like a few minutes! A brief check out revealed that they all wanted to continue attending and would return the next week. A healthy beginning to a 1st Kwanda inspired social change event.

History Repeats
For me, Kwanda’s Group Therapy clearly informed that psychotherapy can be accessed by all especially by Black women and men. I would argue that group therapy is what many from the African diaspora are involved in currently socially. The African Diaspora have been culturally and historically engaged in social economies for centuries. Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook Watch Parties, Skype, Zoom, Instagram live and many other group social platforms are used to pass messages in ways similar to the old way.

Similar infact to the drum! Africans from yester year invented Tele-Comunication.

Perhaps in times of great change we could all do with some psychotherapeutic support. The vision of Kwanda for me, is that it’s about Legacy.

The, what we are able to pass on to those that follow.

Resources
Broken Record Rick Rubin and Daryl DMC McDaniels discuss therapy and music
What’s Ray Saying? Brother in Arms
Code Switch Some Of The People Knew Magic
TED Radio Hour Inspire To Action

Images

Cover photo provided by Kwanda take a look here
Inlay photo by Zachary Nelson on Unsplash

Perfect Storm: Endings, New Beginnings

The events of the past few weeks coincide with events over the past few months. They appear to have met and produced a swell of human reaction and protest that would have been hard to imagine last year or even 20 years ago.

Liberty Looks

Never
I had thought that my last post on the experience of CoViD19 would be my last. That post looked at the fatigued experience of when will the Lockdown end and things return to something that’s near normal? But something cruel and as life affecting as Corona Virus Disease 2019, has appeared on the horizon and I am drawn to look at this too.

Brutality
3 Black people died in quick succession this year at the hands of law enforcement. A bird watcher in Central Park perilously almost became another casualty. The 3 were Eric Reason, Dominique Clayton, Brennan Taylor.

Demanding Equality

Sailing
A sea person I am not. But I have watched The Perfect Storm and enjoy seeing humans do battle against the elements. I cannot exactly tell you what makes a storm perfect. It may have something to do with weather, tides and currents synchronising to create conditions where storm surges of 40ft hit shores and coastlines. That would be me hazarding a guess.

Gasp
For the perfect storm to have happened in the way that it has, took a tri partisan event. A triple threat. The virus. The Lockdown. 3 Black People being murdered by law enforcement and then George Floyd. That feeling of breaking the surface for air may be the result, after being confined to our homes for long periods of time. We may want and need to react to self and state imposed incarceration. We may want and need to shake the dust off and stretch our collective civil might on streets around the world.

Watching the Watchmen

Swell
The deaths of 4 Black people in the US, may provide the perfect set of circumstances to take our 3 months worth of thinking and feeling, holding our breaths that we all come out of the ‘Rona alive. Then if we combine this sense of surviving with the injustice of people losing their lives unlawfully by law enforcement – repeatedly. If we add in, the deep seated feelings of sadness, confusion guilt, regret, shame, anger and rage. Then and only then breathe out in an exhilaratingly powerful way finally.

The slogan of Black Lives Matter and ‘I Can’t Breathe’ could potentially, take on more meaning. The sentiment being viscerally felt by masses because they, we get it. We too were restrained against our will for longer than we wanted. Some of us, unfortunately, just didn’t make it.

Letting Go
Shedding years of misguided notions and seeing clearly that life for certain groups of people have been harder for hidden and ignored reasons. Black peoples challenges have not solely arisen from our own design. The making of systems that demean and devalue and place one group of people above others. The idea of superiority was deigned as a right of being and has been implemented globally by Europeans. Black people have been demanding equality. It’s time

One
George Floyd’s death gave reason for many to leave the safe protective confines of homes and take to the streets. Stating to ourselves and internationally that the cause of his death was unlawful, unjust and is simply wrong. The world needs to see how we feel #FFS. The videos and articles I have seen of a world united against injustice is heartening.

One Common Goal

Continuing
For Black, Brown and othered peoples this fight has been long standing. We have been fighting for the betterment of all. Austin Channing Brown’s request of being Better Humans stands ahead all other calls for me.

My hope is for the ongoing struggle to produce tangible life affirming results like: access for all to have an outstanding education system, healthcare, job opportunities, secure and safe housing in neighbourhoods that value collaboration and place being part of a community and advantage over being focused on the one called I.

Other outcomes could include an ever present critical awareness of the impact of systemic oppression and racist policies profiting one group over and above others the world over and a willingness from allies to fairly reassemble the pie. The pie will taste better and there will be more to go around.

Anti Racist change is a demand that is to be met globally by everyone.

Resources
Kehinde Andrews 20 positive ways to bring about lasting change
Uncomfortable Conversations by Emmanuel Acho
Brené Brown interviews Austin Channing Brown on Unlocking Us
Explain White Privilege by Lori Lakin Hutcherson
Van Jones discusses George Floyd and what comes next
Harvard Gazette Interviews Prof Lawrence D. Bobo The Fire This Time
Quentin Fottrell discusses George Floyd, white supremacy – and the otherization of African American Men
Brené Brown discusses with Ibrahim X. Kendi How to be an Anti-Racist
This American Life – We are in the future
The Emotional Impact of Watching White People Waking Up to Racism

Images
Cover photo by mana5280 on Unsplash
1st Inlay photo by Donovan Valdivia on Unsplash
2nd inlay photo by Jacob Boavista on Unsplash
3rd inlay photo by 99.films on Unsplash
4th inlay photo by Leandro Valentino on Unsplash




Perfect Storm: Never

Never
I had thought that my last post on the experience of CoViD19 would be my final one. That post looked at the fatigued experience of when will the Lockdown end and things return to something that’s near normal? But something as cruel and life affecting has appeared on the horizon and I am drawn to look at this too. This post is serialised.

Resource
Kehinde Andrews 20 positive ways to bring about lasting change

Image
Cover photo by frankie cordoba on Unsplash

Perfect Storm: Intro

The events of the past few weeks coincide with events over the past few months. They appear to have met and produced a swell of human reaction and protest that would have been hard to imagine last year or even 20 years ago. The following few posts will discuss these ideas further.

Resources

Brené Brown discusses with Ibrahim X. Kendi How to be an Anti-Racist

Vicarious Trauma

Before
I was 17 when the vicious attacks by LAPD officers on Rodney King were made and became a pre viral assault for global audiences. This was before the days of the internet. News was gathered from television news reports.

When
March 1991. This was my first year attending an art college in Wisbech Cambridgeshire. The Isle College was as far removed from the site of the brutal attack as I could safely imagine. Wisbech was then a small rural town.

Heard
Police and their brutal treatment of law enforcement towards Black, Brown and poor people – a frequent backdrop to the music I was listening to at the time – Public Enemy, N.W.A. and Jazz infused Hip Hop.

Understanding the double speak of systemic oppression



A First
The Rodney King event was something I had heard about but never witnessed! The video arrived in as raw a format as it could be filmed. A video 8 hand held camera – shaky – unfocused – capturing a seldom caught, or filmed spectacle.

Art Imitating
A friend at the time a fellow student, asked me the day after if I was okay? He a white male. A skateboarder. Aware of the hare-pin trigger reactions of police both here and there. His query stirred me. Back then I did not have the language, reasoning or capacity to make sense of Rodney King’s attack. I don’t now. His experience was unfathomable. Later that year I queued up to watch Boyz n The Hood. The film gave me a sense of context and framing to what I had been a naïve witness to earlier that same year.

Sho’
This post is short primarily because other’s have words that are far more apt, powerful and relevant for this time. In our age of oppressive acts and fear based divisive ideologies. The Jury left the building a long time ago and aren’t coming back.

Over
For women and men like George Floyd slain because a combination of conflicting factors have violently met. This systemic experience now calls for historic revolutionary unprecedented change.

Resources
Othello’s Children by Jose V. Pimenta-Bey
Deconstructing White Privilege with Dr Robin D’Angelo
Russel Brand with Dr Kehinde Andrews discuss White Supremacy
Whiteness on the Couch by Natasha Stovall
Hell you talm bout by Janelle Monae
When Black Death Goes Viral by Kenya Downs
www.kwanda.co The Community’s Village
#howwefight It takes a consistent approach to change

Images
Cover photo by Tyrell Charles on Unsplash
Inlay photo provided by PK of Diversity Space who sourced the image from: Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence 2005 Adapted: Ellen Tuzzolo 2016; Mary Julia Cooksey Cordero 2019; The Conscious Kid 2020. Originally shared by Michelle Gyimah & Ashanti Bentil-Dhue on their LinkedIn feed.

With thanks to Dr CW, ATPN, The Family Across the Miles Check in and Diversity Space for the videos and commentary.

LA TERCERA GUERRA MUNDIAL UNA TEORIA: CORONAVIRUS

Es posible que nuestro mundo esté viviendo la mayor amenaza global a la supervivencia humana desde la epidemia de la gripe de 1918 y la segunda guerra mundial. COVID19 se ha definido como una pandemia, una emergencia global sin precedencia, y una guerra.

La amenaza es una proteína que una vez invade/infecta a su huésped, se reproduce, causa enfermedad y preocupantemente, la muerte.
Es la parte de la muerte la que es indiscriminada y derriba vecindarios y estados. Me recuerda a documentales de la segunda mundial y edificios siendo detonados en pedazos y comunidades destruidas. Todos hemos sido involuntariamente llamados a luchar, AHORA.

ADVERTENCIA: Esto es una inmersión en algunas ideas asociativas que tengo para apoyar y manejar la crisis actual. El objetivo es proporcionar ideas útiles y una breve descripción de algunos medios que he consumido que me ayudan a posicionar esta amenaza existencial.

Teoría del Gato
Compartí con un cliente la teoría del gato de Schrödinger para apoyar su aceptación y reconstrucción de la idea de lo desconocido que es el COVID19, cepa de gripe que está actualmente poniendo el mundo patas arriba. Sencillamente presente la teoría de un gato muerto/ no muerto en una caja como una manera de ayudar a asimilar la difícil realidad de la pandemia que es COVID19.

El virus me recuerda a un hongo (David Attenborough presenta hongos entomopatógenos) que afecta a insectos. En cuestión de días estos insectos se convierten en cadáveres que ayudan a propagar las esporas de los hongos a otros insectos desprevenidos para crear otros hongos. La naturaleza es ridículamente inteligente. De manera similar, un asaltante invisible está causando que todo lo que consideramos en nuestra experiencia mundial como importante y valioso sea derribado e irreparablemente alterado.

La Teoría de Schrödinger
Y así a la teoría del gato de Schrödinger. La teoría es que imaginemos un gato doméstico. El atigrado se coloca en una caja con un isotopo radiactivo. Debo decir que, en ningún momento se llevó a cabo este experimento.
Esto es un experimento mental, que invita a nuestras mentes humanas a tener dos ideas opuestas al mismo tiempo. Como en la teoría cuántica, donde la luz está compuesta de partículas y actúa como una onda al mismo tiempo. El isótopo radiactivo está conectado con un temporizador que libera el veneno en un momento específico pero desconocido.

La Paradoja de lo Desconocido
La pregunta a responder es, ¿el gato está vivo o muerto? Para un científico o una persona curiosa como mi cliente, se plantean cuestiones sobre la cantidad de isótopos radiactivos y la resistencia del gato. Otras preguntas también podrían incluir si el gato tenía comida o agua para mantenerse y por cuánto tiempo está en la caja. 24 horas es el tiempo que di como respuesta. Creo que para el experimento mental la respuesta fue una hora y sí, en mi ejemplo, había suficiente comida y agua para sostener al gato durante 24 horas.

Ambos
Ahora para responder la pregunta y llevar este nivel de preguntas a un círculo completo. Dirija la pregunta al virus mortal que está cambiando irrevocablemente el mundo. Porque no podemos determinar la efectividad del isótopo radiactivo. Ni la resistencia del gato. La respuesta a la pregunta sobre el bienestar del gato es que el gato está vivo y muerto. Simultáneamente. No está muerto ni está vivo. Tendríamos que abrir la caja y ver por nosotros mismos. Hasta ese momento debemos mantener ambas ideas como respuestas correctas probables.

¿Es teoría cuántica?
Fui un poco más lejos con el ejemplo del gato de Schrödinger y COVID19 con mi cliente. A nivel mundial, estamos en las cajas de Desconocidos conocidos y en la caja de Conocimientos desconocidos simultáneamente.

La amenaza para todos nosotros es el factor de no saber. ¿Podemos saber qué sucederá a lo largo del continuum entre contraer el virus o evadirlo y no enfermar? No podemos. Mirando los ejemplos de naciones como China o Italia, podemos observar la efectividad de lo que han hecho estos países. Bloquear a una nación entera y restringir el movimiento parece haber disminuido las tasas de infección. Se cree que China como país ha pasado lo peor de la crisis. Italia se acerca a la peor experiencia de la crisis: el número total de personas infectadas que mueren a causa de la enfermedad alcanza su punto máximo diario / semanal. El resto del mundo está a 2-3 semanas por detrás de Italia.

Rat-a-tat-tat
Si tuviéramos que contraer el virus, pasaríamos a las cajas de conocidos y desconocidos. Sabríamos que potencialmente podríamos sentirnos mal o estar seriamente enfermos. Es el grado de malestar lo que no sabríamos. El “qué pasaría después” tampoco quedaría claro. La incertidumbre es el punto de preocupación para las naciones en este momento. La misma preocupación también se extiende a familias e individuos en el 28 de marzo de 2020 (fecha de redacción de este artículo). Es posible que la histeria pública, el pánico y la paranoia comiencen ahora a golpear fuertemente nuestra puerta de pensamientos racionales. Si abrimos esta puerta podríamos estar acosados por muchas muchas preocupaciones.

Eleccion
Si abrimos la puerta y aceptamos el estado de desconocimiento, ¿entonces qué? Si mantenemos la puerta cerrada y nos quedamos con lo que sabemos sobre el virus, ¿sería esto mejor tanto a corto como a largo plazo?
Aquí hay dos resultados dentro de muchas otras posibilidades que podrían reducir la histeria, el pánico y la paranoia. Podríamos aprender a aceptar lo que es o negar lo que es.

El lago Matheson

Lo desconocido?
Gestionar aquello que se puede controlar es pasar a la primera caja de conocimientos conocidos (lo que sabemos que sabemos). En la cual nos sentimos cómodos y tenemos una confianza inherente en un futuro determinado. Habitar las cajas segunda, tercera y cuarta es inquietante, aterrador e invita a ideas desestabilizadoras. Estas son las cajas de lo que sabemos que desconocemos, lo que desconocemos que sabemos y lo que desconocemos que desconocemos.

Todo mejor Ahora
Buscar información en este momento puede verse como un movimiento inteligente, sin embargo, hay una avalancha de información confusa y conflictiva en este momento.

Pod Save the World comparte un nuevo podcast que proporciona una actualización quincenal sobre el Coronavirus.

Si puede, reduzca la ansiedad, reduzca el uso de las redes sociales, aíslese, distánciese socialmente cuando este fuera, coma saludablemente, mantenga la ingesta de líquidos y trate de mantener conexiones virtuales positivas con amigos y familiares.

Una cosa que es conocida, es que esta experiencia de la guerra pasará. Nuestro mundo cambiará. Debe de hacerlo. Vivir a partir de entonces, en un mundo cambiado, es el resultado del gato de Schrödinger: yacer en la última caja de lo que desconocemos que desconocemos: emocionante y sin embargo aterrador.

Abre la caja!

Recursos
Brené Brown Podcast FFT’s
Bill Gates – WWIII
Podsave The World Coronavirus Reality
Marios’ Video fwd
Netflix Pandemic
This Day in Esoteric Political History from 99% Invisible – We Have Been Here Before

Imagen
Lake Matheson Photo by Jingwei Ke on Unsplash

With thanks to my friend CV-A for the support in translating this text!

The 3rd World War a Theory: Coronavirus

It is possible that we as a world are facing the largest global threat to our ongoing human survival since the 1918 flu epidemic and WWII. COVID19 has been termed a pandemic, an unprecedented global emergency, and a war.

The threat is a protein that once it invades/infects its host, reproduces and causes illness and worryingly death. It is the death part which is indiscriminate and strikes down neighbourhood’s and nation states. I am reminded of documentary’s on WWII and buildings being blown apart and communities destroyed. We all have been unwillingly called up to fight, NOW.

Warning: this is a dive into a few associative ideas I have to support and manage the current crisis. The aim is to provide useful ideas and a brief overview of some media I have consumed that help me position this existential threat.

Cat Theory
A theory of Schrödinger’s cat I shared with a client to support their accepting and reconstructing their ideas of the unknown that is the COVID19 strain of the flu currently turning the world on it’s head. Loosely I presented the theory of a dead/not dead cat in a box as a way to help assimilate a challenging awareness of the pandemic that is COVID19.

The virus reminds me of a fungus (David Attenborough presents entomopathogenic fungi) that affects insects. Over a period of days these insects become cadavers that help spread the fungi’s spores to other unsuspecting insects to create other fungi. Nature is ridiculously clever. In a similar way, an invisible assailant is causing all that we hold in our world experience as important and precious, being torn down and irreparably altered.

Schrödinger’s Theory
And so to the Theory of Schrödinger’s cat. The theory is that we imagine a domestic house cat. The tabby is placed into a box with a radioactive isotope. I should say that, at no point was this experiment ever carried out. This is a thought experiment, inviting our human minds to hold two opposing ideas at the same time. Like in quantum theory where light is made up of particles and acts as a wave at the same time. The radioactive isotope is wired with a timer that releases the poison at a specific but unknown time.

Unknown Paradox
The question to be answered is, is the cat dead or alive? For a scientist or an inquisitive person like my client, questions are posed about the amount of radioactive isotope and the resilience of the cat? Other questions could also include whether the cat had food or water to sustain itself and how long the cat is in the box for? 24 hours is the length of time I gave as my answer. I think for the thought experiment the answer was an hour and yes there was enough food and water to sustain the cat for 24 hours in my example.

Both
Now to answer the question and bring this level of questioning full circle. Point the question at the deadly virus that is irrevocably changing the world. Because we cannot determine the effectiveness of the radioactive isotope. Nor the resilience of the cat. The answer to the question about the wellbeing of the cat, is, that the cat is both dead and alive. Simultaneously. It is neither dead nor is it alive. We would have to open the box and see for ourselves. Up until that moment we are to hold both ideas as probable correct answers.

Is it quantum theory?
I went a little further with the example of Schrödinger’s Cat and COVID19 with my client. Globally we are in the boxes of Known Unknown’s and the box of Unknown Knowns simultaneously.

The threat for all of us is the factor of not knowing. Can we know what will happen along the continuum of getting the virus or evading the virus and not becoming unwell? No we cannot. Looking at the examples of nation states like China or Italy, we can observe the effectiveness of what these countries have done. Locking down an entire nation and restricting movement appears to have slowed the infection rates. China as a country is believed to be beyond the worst of the crisis. Italy is approaching the worst experience of the crisis: total numbers of people who were infected dieing from the illness reaching it’s daily/weekly peak. The rest of the world are 2-3 weeks behind Italy..

Rat-a-tat-tat
If we were to contract the virus we would move into the known and unknown boxes. We would know that we could potentially become unwell or seriously unwell. It is the extent of the unwellness that we would not know. The ‘what would happen next’ would also remain unclear. Uncertainty is the point of concern for nation states at the moment. The same concern also extends to families and individuals as of 28th Mar 2020 (date of writing this piece). It is possible that public hysteria, panic and paranoia begin knocking heavily on our rational thoughts door now. If we open this door we could be beset by many many concerns.

Choice
If we open the door and accept the state of unknowing, what then? If we keep the door shut and stay with what we know about the virus, would this for both the short and long term be better?

Here are 2 outcomes from many other possibilities that could cancel out panic hysteria and paranoia. We could learn to accept what is or deny what is.

Lake Matheson – The Unknown?

Managing what can be controlled is moving into the 1st box of known knowns. Which feels comfortable and we are inherently confident with a certain future.

Inhabiting the 2nd 3rd and 4th boxes are unsettling, scary and invite destabilising ideas. These are the boxes of the Known Unknowns, Unknown Knowns and Unknown Unknowns.

All Better Now
Seeking information at this time can be seen as a wise move however there is an avalanche of confusing and conflicting information at this time. Pod Save the World share a new podcast that provides a bi weekly update on the Coronavirus.

If you can, reduce anxiety, reduce social media use, isolate, socially distance yourself when out, eat healthily, keep fluid intake up and aim at maintaining positive virtual connections with friends and family. One thing that is a known known, this experience of War will pass. Our world will change. It has to. Living from then on, in a changed world is a Schrödinger’s cat outcome: lying in the last box of the Unknown Unnowns – Exciting and yet Scary.

Open The Box!

Resources
Brené Brown Podcast FFT’s
Bill Gates – WWIII
Podsave The World Coronavirus Reality
Marios’ Video fwd
Netflix Pandemic
This Day in Esoteric Political History from 99% Invisible – We Have Been Here Before

Images
Title Photo by David East on Unsplash
Lake Matheson Photo by Jingwei Ke on Unsplash

Investment in Therapy pt 1

Running the Black Men’s Therapy Group has gifted me and my co counsel Sheila Samuels with more evidence of how necessary the Introductory course/workshop is for Black Men.

A previous post Jitters, observed the negative side of what too often happens, when someone does not get the help so often not looked at as a support. Therapy is often a last resort and sometimes barely that. How can therapy be successful when there is so much at stake? There are a number of reasons for the reluctance to engage. Cost. Culture. Cures and Cons.

Cost
Therapy is not generally a low cost investment. See Kwanda’s initiative to redress this. IAPT was seen as a possible panacea for the masses to engage with psychologically trained individuals to access C.B.T. (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy).

Helping those who wanted psychological support to begin resolving and managing their experiences of depression and anxiety well. The NHS support was provided through GP services for those who either expressed need or were found to be able to access C.B.T. support. The cost for a person wanting C.B.T. is nothing but time. Current waiting lists are between 6 – 18 months in some areas.

Culture
For many people there is a sense of unknowing and unconscious/conscious fear when thinking to access talking therapy (a stigma). TV shows like In Treatment, Queer Eye, In Conversation with John Bishop and Couples Therapy allow viewers to see the process outside of themselves. Sort of like a fly on the wall. Viewers don’t get the first hand raw experience of what therapy does. Therapy can often be a truly eye opening experience. It can be scary too. Don’t let fear prevent you doing great things, again!

Uncoupling
However living with the pain of what potentially is lying hidden could be seen as worse. On a number of levels the person living with the pain knows this too.

Many cultures across the globe have differing ways of managing internal scars. Some attend to these scars in community settings, some go to see a Doctor or psychotherapist, some a faith healer, shaman or spiritual leader a wise elder in the community. The aim is similar – to unbuckle the experience of (emotional, physical, psychological, historic) pain from the present.

Not for Me
Therapy supports a person or group to achieve this aim of unbuckling. In a Western technology filled world. Some cultures have developed a socially accepted space in the minds of their people for therapy to be an acceptable form of treatment. For some cultures including the African Diaspora, Asian Diaspora and South East Asian Diaspora, therapy is often seen as something that is not to be touched. Therapy is for other peoples.
“We don’t speak our family matters to outsiders.”
“It makes us weaker as a community that has already suffered and is going through our own ongoing struggles with it’s identity purpose, history and future.”

Cures
Therapy is not a cure. It has helpful elements that have curative affects for individuals and for groups but it by no means can wipe out past traumas and pains in a single shot. The process can take time – sometimes for a few years.The accumulative effects are like a river cutting through rock or an overnight heavy snowfall. Therapy cannot undo centuries of pain. What therapy can do is support a better understanding to support groups and communities resolve current and past experiences.

Finding a Heart

It is Written
Books like The Body Keeps The Score and It’s Not Always Depression support an individual and groups to begin reviewing their current lived experience and review them critically. The two books highlighted above and therapeutic encounters generally encourage people to take out the parts that are not working for them anymore. Observe the learning from an array of differing experiences. Begin implementing another way to live and live well. I can think about a number of clients I have worked with for 1 – 5 seasons who have all gained somethings from therapy and found a way to let their past demons die and accept their now to live as best as they can making improved choices.

Cons
Therapy has it’s good, bad, and indifferent encounters between therapists and clients. The right mix often happens when skilled therapists meet willing clients to address their difficulties. At times an incompatible mix can happen of cultures, sexes, compassion fatigue of therapists, unconscious biases, identities and egos are amiss and both the client and therapist cannot make the therapeutic encounter work. The fatigued battle weary therapist and enthusiastic risk aware client would be an interesting dynamic to supervise.

Cons?
The thinking behind IAPT’s 6 appointment model is that a short focused piece of work can be effective when a single problem is looked at solely. This is equal to 300minutes of considered time and can be effective to resolve an issue. The difficulty arises when more than one primary concern is activated or pulled through. Which can happen as a result of discussing the other factors around the initial reason a person engages in therapy.

Time is a valuable commodity as is a
successful outcome for the work for client and therapist.

Cons??
Six appointments at times does not touch the sides of heavily affected people’s challenges like complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD). Another difficulty that the Global Majority has with encountering therapy are the historic experiences of colonisation, criminalisation, cultural appropriation and theft, villainizing communities and splitting groups of people along tribal, ethnic and gender lines. An implicit encouragement of groups to fight politically or physically inside of these constructed divisions, and then them to be offered a westernized approach to heal communities seems like an insult to a historic injury.

Cons!
Where would trust exist within these paradigms to complete a piece of effective work? Western approaches to therapeutic outcomes were developed originally for a small group of people in Europe!

If we were to widen the lens and take in the planet through a global and pan view, communities from Central and South America, the indigenous populations of Australasia, Inuit communities, Sub Saharan Africans and Northern African communities may not access therapy marginally or fully because of their own senses of culture, their community understandings, religions, beliefs, sense of collectivism and historical legacy experiences with the West. A Eurocentric approach with therapy would need to be de-colonised and become incorporated within the cultures therapy hopes to support.

Cons!!
There are also the experiences of what White psychiatrists, and White therapists have perpetrated against Global Majority communities which adds to the sense of historic mistrust against westernised approaches to healing.

Resources
Black Issues in the Therapeutic Process – Dr Isha McKenzie-Mavinga
Black Bodies TEDx Devante Sanders

Images
Photo by Shane Avery on Unsplash
Photo by Roman Kraft@romankraft Unsplash Autumn Love Signs

The Black Men’s Therapy Course: The quiet revolution

I have been asked over the past few months how the Black Men’s Therapy course has gone. Wonderfully would be how I would answer the question. The initial jitters and experience of serendipity became a rounded experience of therapy.

Wary
Topics covered included included Low Mood and Depression, Anxiety, Mood Management, Addictions, Loss and Self Care. The initial group of men that came were initially in the first few minutes wary. There was good enough reason. None of the course attendees had previously met. They were also new to me and my co-counsellor Sheila.

1st Block
For the first block of 6 appointments, in order to assist the conversation and support holding the group, the frame was to offer
a check in,
review the week just passed through and
towards the end of the meeting provide a
check out.

The first day of the course gave opportunity for the 5 men that joined to meet and greet each other. Get to know who was in the room and know their reasons for being a part of the course. The first day went very well and gave a sense of what the rest of the course would look and feel like.

January 2020
The 2nd block of 6 appointments were looser in their formation. 3 previous attendees joined the follow up course with 1 new attendee. Check ins became a way to engage with the subject material of that night’s discussion. Topics included Intergenerational/Trans-genertional Traumas (PTSS), Micro-Aggressions and Stereotypes.

Refocusing

Congruency
One of the outcomes that I was pleased to notice was the willingness of the group to engage with challenging and difficult material in an open and honest way.

Showing who they are amongst other men without the need to hold up a mask pretending bravado or being a braggart. The vulnerability I had hoped would be a consistent and precious part of the meetings was consistently realised.

One of the reasons a level of congruence was achieved was the sense that we had all come together for a specific purpose. To talk on a level with others that look like us about experiences that intimately impact on our lives, the lives of our families and those we consider friends allies and our community.

Membership
The next block of 15 appointments is to start on the 18th of March 2020. The course will be an open group – and will accept new and previous attendees to attend as often or as infrequently as they would like.

The idea of a closed group became muted within the 1st block of 6 appointments. The idea of not admitting new members after the 3rd meeting was tested after 2 new men joined the course in week 4.

The group successfully negotiated how to accept and work with new members. From January going forward the group were settled in themselves and were willing to engage with difficult personal histories. The men were able to discuss concerns related to identity and being in hostile work spaces.

Sign Up
If interested in joining the next group send an email to either myself or to Sheila Samuels via our websites. Click on the links above.

Resources
Yannick Yalipende
Therapy Today October 2019
Kwanda the Online Village

Image
Photo by Oladimeji Odunsi on Unsplash
Self Portrait Tankerton pebble beach

Winter Solstice

Surviving the Winter Solstice and all the celebrations that go with the shortest/longest day of the year depending on where in the world you live or what may be happening for you. Winter/Summer is worthy of forethought.

Spare a Thought
Christmas in prison can be a bleak time for those men and women who are behind the wall. It is filled with the memory of happier warmer times. When they were not inside. When they were with loved ones. Where they could relax and be with those who made them feel safe. Prison is often cold with temperature of the cells and with people’s actions and behaviours to others. Officers to prisoners. Prisoners to Officers. Prisoners to Prisoners. Officers to Officers.

Alternative
For other people in prison the Winter Break can be about withdrawing and settling in for the stretch ahead. 2020 could be the year of release, parole or marking that there are another 20 – 25 years left to serve. The countdown continues to a time in the near or a distant future where they will be living beyond the wall. With loved ones and away from a place of perpetual pain and desperation.

Time Away
Last year when I originally wrote this a person living in prison asked me how I was going to be spending my Winter Break? I had served just under 3 months as a counsellor working in that prison.

I shared that “I wouldn’t be doing that much. Watching TV, seeing a few people, eating too much and attempting to fit too much in that could leave me exhausted with the effort of cramming.”
“Oh?” he said “So just like us in here then!”
We both laughed.

Celebrationsss
The reality of Kwanzaa,
Hanukkah,
Christmas
Prepping for the new year can take its toll.

Restive
In all honesty I’d like to sleep through some of the hype. Avoidance is not possible. Resetting my sights, I could advise try thinking into February. The New Year holds unknown promise. Resolutions can take weeks to take hold and be made into fully effective ways of being. The Gym routine, Running, Swimming, Dieting, Drinking less, Developing good spending habits/saving habits, making religious commitments, holiday plans, committing to a relationship, plotting new learning or job opportunity choices.

I am sure there are more I may have missed (add suggestions in the comments below), that go into planning and reflecting on the year passed and the new one that is to arrive.

More 2 a Year
January the 1st is just a date signifying the start of the next calendar year. There are other significant dates that one could be mindful of. Anniversary’s, School/College terms, Tax Years, Birthday’s, Religious observance dates, St Valentines, Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter for us living in the Northern hemisphere. Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring for those living antipodeanly. Dry and Wet seasons for those near to the equator.

Target Setting
Choose a date that marks a meaningful time for you. Set the date for after the change is to be noted. By 1st of March I will be able to play cards, list all of [insert musician’s] catalogue of records in date order, know the test inside out, have written the final chapter of the book I am working on, met with a personal trainer, coach, to get this out of shape mass moving again.

Capturing a new day
Photo by Marc Clinton Labiano on Unsplash

Once the date is met and passed evaluate if the intention is there to continue and set another date a few months ahead once again. Keep checking reviewing altering and going. Achieving a goal is only half the story. It is the change that comes with the shift that reveals another way of being in the world.

Pause
The Winter Solstice existed as a time to slow down or stop. So perhaps like other hibernating creatures we could too. Stop, review what has been a part of your life. Recall and think what has been learned. Review what could be left in last year (2019). Also what could be carried in to the year to follow.

That’s the gold of the alchemical process we are all engaged with. Living well. At the precipice of our potential…

See you on the other side.

CTA
I invite comments below, I remain as always interested in what you think of this blog and any of the others written this year.

Thank you for your ongoing interest and support of these thoughts -captured.

Resources
7 Days of Celebration
Christmas Re-imagined Code Switch Podcast
Christmas Origins
December Stories The Moth Podcast

Cover photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash