Over the past forty years there has been understandable concern expressed about the damaging impact of practitioners’ homophobia and/or transphobia on counselling clients. This concern led to calls for the development of training and resources to improve practitioners’ attitudes and behaviours and the publication by professional bodies of guidance and policies to promote anti-discriminatory practice. However contemporary research is suggesting that the majority of practitioners now hold a relatively positive or gay-affirmative stance and that their attitudes cannot easily be described as homophobic or transphobic (i.e. characterised by hostility, disgust or fear of the minority group). The emphasis has recently been shifted from obvious or overt expressions of prejudice to more subtle, ambivalent or indirect forms such as ‘modern homophobia’, positive stereotypes, microaggressions or paternalistic heterosexism, some of which may be manifested by well-meaning individuals.
This professional development day will look at contemporary forms of prejudice as they might apply to the counselling setting and, in addition, will explore the understandable ‘interaction unease’ which can occur when well-intentioned practitioners, eager to be non-prejudiced, meet with individuals from a stigmatised group.
Craig Hutchison is a counsellor in private practice (www.personcentre.co.uk) and a Senior Teaching Fellow in Counselling, Psychotherapy and Applied Social Sciences at the University of Edinburgh. He organised Scotland’s first national conference on LGBT-affirmative therapy (Out of Mind, 2000) and was formerly a member of BACP’s Equality and Diversity Forum.
The main aims of the PDD are:
1. To introduce participants’ to the various types of prejudice and discrimination which can affect counselling practice, including more subtle, unintentional or covert forms of ‘modern prejudice’ such as microaggressions, paternalistic heterosexism and positive stereotypes.
2. To enhance participants’ understanding of their own values, fears and beliefs in working across difference.
3. To consider the ways in which a practitioner’s desire to be non-prejudiced can lead to self-consciousness and awkwardness in their interactions with ‘sexual minority’ clients.
4. To create a welcoming and safe-enough environment for recognition, exploration and discussion of feelings of anxiety and unease in working with and across difference.
By the end of the PDD, you will be able to:
1. Recognise more subtle forms of prejudice and discrimination, such as positive stereotyping, microaggressions and unconscious bias.
2. Understand how subtle prejudice and interaction unease could unintentionally manifest in and impact on your counselling practice.
3. Better appreciate LGBT client perspectives and experiences.
4. Feel more confident and better equipped in your work with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.