Thinking Space: Promoting Thinking About Race, Culture and Diversity in Psychotherapy and Beyond

Editor : Frank Lowe

Thinking Space: Promoting Thinking About Race, Culture and Diversity in Psychotherapy and Beyond

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'Thinking Space' was set up to develop the capacity of staff and trainees at the Tavistock Clinic to think about racism, and other forms of hatred toward difference in ourselves and others. Drawing on Bion’s (1962) distinction between “knowing” and “knowing about”, the latter of which can be a defence against knowing a subject in a deeper and emotionally real way, Thinking Space sought to promote curiosity, exploration and learning about difference, by paying as much attention as to how we learn (process) as to what we learn (content).

This book is a celebration of ten years of Thinking Space at the Tavistock Clinic and a way of sharing the thinking, experience and learning gained over these years. Thinking Space functions, among other things, as a test-bed for ideas and many of the papers included here began as presentations, and were encouraged and developed by the experience. These papers do not seek to provide a coherent theory or set of views. On the contrary they are very diverse and decidedly so, as finding, expressing and developing one’s own personal idiom involves emotional truthfulness and is an important part of getting to know oneself: both of which are important prerequisites to getting to know the other.

Reviews and Endorsements

Thinking Space is a gift to clinicians everywhere, a gift perhaps not easy to receive but one we really must receive. Frank Lowe and colleagues offer readers the fruit of a collaboration among clinical colleagues that is enviable and well worth emulating. In chapters of great clinical depth and personal honesty, Thinking Space demonstrates how transformative it can be to work together to construct safe spaces in which clinicians, and clinicians and patients, can begin to think about painful experiences of difference, hatred of the other, and all kinds of unconscious prejudicial blindness – including the blindness inherent to our relation to the theories and institutions we hold most dear. For trainees to senior clinicians, this book is a must-read.’
— Lynne Layton, PhD, Harvard Medical School; Massachusetts Institute for Psychoanalysis; and Editor, Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society

‘This publication is timely, arriving after many years of work centred at the Tavistock Clinic. It makes a case for the profession to consider its own model of thinking and not evading the difficult issue of working with diversity. These previously exiled topics in psychoanalysis will create a shift in theory, practice, and supervision, and will be valuable to training courses and guardians of the psychoanalytic cannon.’
— Lennox K. Thomas, senior member, British Psychotherapy Foundation; child and family psychotherapist; and Honorary Fellow, UKCP

‘This is a courageous and complex book, one fruit of an initiative by Frank Lowe and others over some years to create a genuine “space for thinking” about ethnicity and racism, class, sexual identity, and other kinds of “difference”. At its heart lies exploration of the power of these issues to ambush our thinking and destabilise our relationships. The "Thinking Space" model of work aims to contain destructiveness without sanitising debate or suppressing the emotional injuries that afflict minority groups, and divide us all. These papers are deeply felt and immensely thoughtful. Thinking Space should be read by everyone engaged in community, social, and therapeutic work – and by a wider political audience, who want to root their ambitions for our societies in a proper understanding of how to negotiate “sameness and difference”.
— Professor Andrew Cooper, Professor of Social Work, Tavistock Clinic and University of East London

About the Editor(s)

Frank Lowe is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist and Head of Social Work in the Adolescent and Adult Directorate at the Tavistock Clinic. Before joining the Tavistock in 2001, he was a Social Services Inspector with the Department of Health and had been a manager of local authority mental health and children services for over twelve years. He has developed services at the Tavistock to help improve access to psychotherapy for black and minority ethnic young people, teaches on several Tavistock courses, and is the Course Organizer of Understanding the Emotional Needs of Care Leavers. He has written several papers on working with adolescence, race, and psychotherapy and has a long-standing interest in making psychotherapy more accessible to poor and marginalized communities.

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