20 Chapters
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CHAPTER ONE: Introduction

Krause, Inga-Britt Karnac Books ePub

In 1998, a significant event took place in race relations in Britain. This was the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry. Stephen Lawrence was murdered by a small gang of young white men as he waited for a bus. His murder was not properly investigated, and to date no one has been found guilty of it. However, the public inquiry that eventually took place found the Metropolitan Police guilty of negligence and institutional racism, and in the weeks that followed the publication of the report on the inquiry (Macpherson, 1999), radio and television news, newspaper editorials, and commentaries as well as private conversations were focused on these events and their implications. Many people, including young Afro-Caribbean, Asian, and white British, attended the inquiry, and a play—The Colour of Justice—based on verbatim transcripts of the inquiry was screened on television at peak viewing time. The inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence openly placed an obligation on the Establishment to address issues of racism and discrimination in a different way from what had previously been done. This was no easy matter, and although there have since been important and essential initiatives—such as the introduction of the Race Relations (Amendment) Act into the public sector during 2000—it is perhaps too early to say whether the implications of the Macpherson Report have been recognized by the public, the government, and professionals in key public services in Britain. These implication are indeed far-reaching and therefore difficult to face. The difficulty is to be found in the notion of institutionalized racism to which the report drew attention. Lord Justice Macpherson and his team defined institutionalized racism as

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CHAPTER TEN: Engaging within and across culture

Karnac Books ePub

Rabia Malik and Philippe Mandin

Our plan for this chapter is to describe and reflect upon clinical work with Pakistani families in the context of court mandated parenting assessments in childcare proceedings. Although court work represents only a small proportion of the family work that we have done together over the past ten years, we have chosen it as the focus in this chapter as it seems to bring to the fore some of the complex processes of working across culture and of joint working, which are more difficult to identify in purely therapeutic interventions. For example, the limitations of the “not knowing approach” often used in family therapy to access cultural themes become more visible when the process is adversarial, stakes are high, and clear recommendations are expected. The clinical example will illustrate how the court context pushes towards essentializing diversity and drawing rigid lines, which are often present in cross-cultural therapy, but which can remain unacknowledged. All cultural systems operate with assumptions and constraints that organize people’s behaviour, beliefs, and emotions. Working across culture means remaining open and respectful to difference, while remembering that culture is an interactive process, not a static fixed system. As the case example will also demonstrate, cultural concepts are deeply meaningful, but also fluid, illusionary (Krause, 1998) and difficult to access. We will describe and reflect on our attempts to engage with such polarized systems in order to create a thinking space to allow alternative explanations to emerge.

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CHAPTER FIVE: Information and experience

Krause, Inga-Britt Karnac Books ePub

I have pointed to two aspects of what therapists do in their work with clients. On the one hand, they interact, talk with, relate, co-construct, and generally try to connect; on the other, they use ideas, notions, models, and assumptions that derive from their own personal and professional backgrounds and contain material not wholly obtained during the encounter with a client. This knowledge and these experiences were acquired before—some during education and training, some derived from the early experiences of the therapist. Not all this knowledge is explicit. Some of it is implicit to such an extent that it seems to be “natural knowledge”, or the only type of knowledge or experience about a certain event there could be. In this way, some of the knowledge may be barely accessible, although this of course depends on the therapist’s training and her personal characteristics and ability to have insight about herself. Although these two modes always overlap and implicate each other, and it is only possible to make a distinction for the purposes of theory or analysis, we may consider them as moments (sometimes very short and fleeting) in which different types of understanding come into play. Walter Benjamin’s distinction between information and experience cuts across these two modes of experience and is helpful.

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CHAPTER SEVEN: Developments in Social GRRRAAACCEEESSS: visible–invisible and voiced–unvoiced

Karnac Books ePub

John Burnham2

The importance of being aware of, sensitive to, and competent in working with issues of social difference has a rich history in the systemic and narrative approaches to therapy and training and is specified in the AFT learning outcomes in the training for therapists and supervisors. (AFT website). The “Social GGRRAAACCEEESSS” is a mnemonic developed jointly with Alison Roper-Hall (Burnham, 1992, 1993; Roper-Hall, 1998) and has, in its various forms, been making a practical contribution to this movement, in the systemic field, since 1990. This chapter describes its history, presentations, applications, and exercises. It introduces the distinction between Personal and Social GGRRAAACCEEESSS, and explores the differences within SG, along the dimensions of visible–invisible and voiced–unvoiced.

History

In 1990, I was, as a therapist, supervisor/trainer, and director of systemic training programmes, struggling along with many others to manage the complexity that was involved in engaging and working with those aspects of experience and practice that were, at that time, referred to as the “isms” (e.g., racism, sexism, ageism). As a personal prompt, I created a mnemonic called DISGRRACCE to remind me of these important aspects of difference. It stood for Disability, I, Sexuality, Gender, Race, Religion, Age, Class, Culture, and Ethnicity. I used it as a personal reminder, a teaching tool, and I included it in student handbooks as a guideline for writing case summaries. In a teaching session, I might put the mnemonic across the top of the board as a visual context/guideword for myself and the participants. I used to say, “It’s a DISGRRACCE if we do not include these issues in our therapy/training, etc.” The “I” was inserted to make up the mnemonic, but when I asked audiences to guess what the I stood for, many people said “identity”, and proposed that identity was created from and within these different aspects of lived experience. This idea of identity was “lost” when the mnemonic was later altered. It might be said that these aspects of difference are constitutive of a person’s identities and, recursively, the communities in which they live and where and with whom they story their experiences.

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CHAPTER EIGHT: Choosing meaning: 2

Krause, Inga-Britt Karnac Books ePub

In chapter seven, I showed how the therapist can start from a position that is general enough not to be identified with her own cultural assumptions and yet give some direction to the enquiry and the therapeutic process. The therapist must try to know what she does not know, and this is why she cannot start with a view from nowhere (Nagel, 1986). Indeed, this would be an illusion. I gave some idea of what the “system” that the therapist may want to keep in mind might look like, as well as ethnographic questions and subquestions that can be generated so that the therapist can move towards “thick description”. Thick description involves language in the broadest sense, including its expressive use, the experience of participation in the language loop, and, of course, digital and analogic modes of communication (Bateson, 1973). On the basis of these processes, the therapist may, like the ethnographer, be able to access information that is new and, because it may be different from what she expected, needs explaining. But not all this information is also new to the client, because, just like the therapist herself, clients act, think, feel, and exist against the background of previous patterns of interaction and meaning. Information, then, may refer to what Bourdieu (1990) has called doxic experience—that is to say, knowledge that individual persons take for granted and may not be wholly conscious, but is nevertheless imbued with cultural patterns and meaning (see chapter five). This kind of material is a challenge to the therapist because she cannot ask direct questions about it. Nevertheless, her efforts must be directed towards accessing and tuning into these kinds of meanings, and if she is able to do this, she can use it to generate new questions. This requires some clarification, and I shall do this by way of an example.

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