Unfortunately, we are seeing a growing number of organisations embrace some form of Critical Theory, which by its very nature breaches the ethical guidelines that mental health professionals should be adhering to. Critical Theory isn’t always easy to spot because different (and often difficult to understand) language is used. The main thing to look out for is attempts to pit one group against another (especially when these groups are based on immutable characteristics such as race, sex, sexuality etc), or to portray certain groups as ‘oppressors’, ‘powerful’, ‘dominators’, or ‘exploiters’.
Should you or your organisation need help, when searching for professionals, the key thing to do is to look at the language they use. Do they use divisive rhetoric? Do they try to use ‘us and them’ language? Do they try to paint one group as the cause of others’ problems? If so, give them a wide berth. This is particularly important if you are seeking psychological support. If you are looking for a mental health professional for yourself or a loved one, check the networks that a therapist is part of, check their social media, and check their outputs. When seeking psychological support it is crucial that your therapist is impartial, objective, evidence-based, and non-political. If they are not, you will not receive the help you need, and indeed, you could end up being put at risk by someone who is trying to push their own agenda.
Sadly, accreditation by governing bodies such as the BPS, PSA and HCPC are no longer guarantees of professionalism, knowledge, or quality of training, and the responsibility is on the individual to do their own research. Following the above guidelines will help you to make an informed decision, but please do not hesitate to contact us should you require support to find appropriate help.
Below are some organisations that it is worth being aware of. These organisations promote some form of critical theory, and are violating a number of professional guidelines.
- Psychologists for Social Change
A network of ‘applied psychologists academics, therapists, psychology graduates and others who are interested in applying psychology to policy and political action’. If you are looking for a balanced, thoughtful and non-partisan discussion of policy from a psychological perspective, give this group a wide berth. To illustrate the political leanings, campaigns include ‘Structural racism demands a structural response’, ‘Embed anti-racism in the NHS’, ‘Against Austerity’ and a request for the removal of Esther McVey (Conservative politician) from the Samaritans’ Advisory board.
Concerningly, this group have developed training for Clinical Psychology Trainees (again a group that should be impartial, objective, and evidence-based – and we’ve already seen some of the consequences of clinicians inappropriately adopting ideology). That such a politically biased group should have ideological input into what should be evidence-based practice is deeply troubling, and also risks breaching ethical guidelines in relation to impartial, non-biased and appropriate treatment of patients.
However, this group has made it clear that one of their ‘central missions has always been to encourage more psychologists to become involved in political and social action’ and they do this through the creation of training for Clinical Psychology Trainees and providing supervision for policy placements. It is clear how inappropriate this in when their outputs include statements such as ‘a reflection of Whiteness in action’, ‘the conversation that needs to be had is about Whiteness’, ‘some white people may retreat into the silence of Whiteness further’, ‘if our profession showed a genuine willingness to acknowledge and address Whiteness’. Further posts include terms such as ‘cis-privilege’ ‘structural racism’, ‘white privilege’, ‘cis privilege’ and ‘patriarchy’.
- Race Reflections
A deeply problematic group that charges up to £3500 to provide courses (to private organisations, universities and schools) in how to be racist. Resources include pieces with titles such as ‘Neurosis Of Whiteness, White Envy And Racial Violence’ ‘Whiteness, Names And Mirrors’, ‘Ambivalence And Readiness For Whiteness: A Model’ And ‘The Psychology Of White Fragility’ and training courses entitled ‘Navigating Whiteness In Academia’.
Not only is the whole organisation and the resources they produce in breach of the Equality Act (discrimination based on race), they are also so also violating Health and Care Professions Council guidelines regarding standards of conduct, performance and ethics specifically to ‘Treat Service Users with Care’ (e.g. point 1.1. You must treat service users and carers as individuals)
However, perhaps one of the most concerning aspects of this organisation is their desire to target children. Their course ‘Self Care In The Face Of Racism’ (costing £399) is designed for educators, parents/carers and children, based on the statement that ‘Black and Brown children start to experience racism at a very young age’. Lesson content includes topics on ‘whiteness’ (‘seeing whiteness’, ‘defining whiteness’ and ‘white privilege’) as well as ‘anti-racism’ in schools which includes the section ‘preparing children for discrimination’.
- Radical Therapist Network
Official outputs include statements such as ‘we are not here to comfort and protect oppressors. We will call you in and invite you to do better. We’ll support you to do this in a way that holds you to account and honours the people/communities you have harmed. White dominance masked as fragility will not be tolerated’. Another states ‘If your priority as a white facilitator is to make other white people feel comfortable to enable them to engage in anti-oppressive practice, then it’s not anti-racist work. White people need to widen their tolerance for discomfort and understand that they have the capacity to harm’. The stream also features a picture of a man violently hitting another man for saying ‘all lives matter’, with the caption ‘thank you […] for the perfect image’. As above, this organisation is in breach of both the Equality Act and HCPC guidelines. It also goes without saying that clearly no professional should ever endorse violence.