“The exploration of this alternative mode of cognition, ideologically suppressed in ourselves, yet still a living force amidst large majorities…”
"I concede only that I know nothing. I can only insist persistently that these fugitive musings on the Blackness of it all, the Black feminism of it all, the queerness of it all, are in the interest of saying things that have long been said but saying them differently, in hopes that some of y’all might get on board with this stuff that’s been circulating for a while".
For the OtherWise workshop Foluke Taylor and Robert Downes as Cece and Niall tell a story of an otherwise training somewhere in the future. This is the introduction to the yet to be published chapter (PCCS books).
Re-imagining the Space and Context for a Therapeutic Curriculum – A Sketch
Another arrangement of the possible . . .
Saidiya Hartman, Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments
We ‘breathe’ with Claudia Rankine into the racial imaginary, the space that she invited artists into to respond to the ways lives are influenced by our understanding and misunderstanding of race. Rankine speaks of how, as we are born into race, racism and white supremacy, our imaginations are not entirely our own - so we join in the imagining as therapeutic practitioners and thinkers. In this chapter, we bring our haunted and compromised imaginations to the task of re-imagining a therapeutic training — one that disrupts the centrality of whiteness, and works to decolonise a curriculum using learning and teaching practices that recognise multiple voices, learning styles, needs and therapeutic traditions. ‘Western’ psychology is among the characters in this reimagined story, but is shaken loose from the position of lone protagonist or hero. This re-imagining insists on the presence of many stories. Neither the revisioning, nor the replacement of the accepted ‘heroes’ of psychotherapeutic thought was sufficient and both possibilities felt suffocating to this project. In the company of speculative fiction as a radical practice (texts that engage the reader to imagine and speculate the possibilities of understandings and makings of the world beyond the white supremacist patriarchal neo-liberal order) and with a mind to Ursula Le Guin’s carrier bag theory of fiction, ( Le Guin speaks to the first tool being a container) we were able to breathe and play — to gather rather than classify, stratify, or order, a narrative. We have not imposed temporal structures and limits. This is neither a beginning nor an ending, but rather a sample telling of a training that might disrupt the usual state of affairs; which understands the power of 'imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy’ (bell hooks) and remains open to whatever possibilities of blackening and queering therapeutic practice and thought, that are revealed. This is not a hero-shaped narrative — starting here and going straight to there — but a carrier bag filled with stories; stories of being, being undone and unravelling from structures that have harmed us all.
We begin with story and imagination as a way into the therapeutic otherwise, a vision of 'another arrangement of the possible'. Participants are invited to join us in the story and to extend it with their own story telling, reflections and dialogue. The story and workshop offer an opportunity to reflect on our training experiences, to mourn and recognise the losses, whilst re-imagining otherwise as a range of ideas are explored.
This website serves as a living resource (it is an on going project) to extend and deepen the work of the story. We have gathered some of the key thinkers, technologies, practices and creators that have informed this otherwise story. There are many ideas within the story that participants will get to reflect on and discuss within and beyond the seminar.
There has been a significant absence of study when it comes to the construct of race, embodied racialised trauma and what Resmaa Menakem calls 'white body supremacy'. So we evoke on going study as a personal and collective practice, as an ethical practice of disrupting therapeutic practice, study and thinking.
To deal with race, racism and the lie of whiteness is to deal with trauma, embodied racialised trauma - so we come to this 'otherwise' project mindful of black feminist ethics and practices of care, a recognition that we are always in the problem, 'in the wake' as Christina Sharpe describes it in her text In The Wake: On Blackness and Being.
There is talk of decolonising the curriculum these days. So what might that talk look like, sound like, be infused with if we are to practice and think and study ‘otherwise’? If we were to re-imagine a curriculum, would we be studying and how might we practice? What might therapeutic practice look like through the lens of abolition?
If we take the technology of race and unravel from it and the ways it has shaped the landscape of psychotherapeutic thought, teaching and practice - what might emerge if we truly engage with other modes of embodied cognition, wisdoms beyond the usual suspects and traditions?
Drawing from their own particular carrier bags of theory and practice, (see Ursula Le Guin’s Carrier Bag Theory of Literature) Foluke and Robert will share some of what they have gathered to inform unravellings and reckonings from within the enclosure(s) of race. Working with a definition of race as ‘technology’* they introduce various other-wise technologies of thought and practice aimed at extending the reach, register, resonance and inclusivity of the therapeutic project with an invitation to re-imagine. (* Taken from Black Quantum Futurism: Space Time Collapse from Congo to the Carolinas).
Key Technologies: Black feminisms, critical theory, relational psychoanalytix, poetry, art, music, philosophy, abolition, the implicated subject, trouble, somatics, empire mind, study, the undercommons, the wake, haunting.
For the workshop you will be invited to participate via a range of practices and reflective exercises.
Foluke Taylor - psychotherapist, writer, teacher, and parent. She seeks to create spaces where therapy, poetics, creative writing, and activism converge as interconnected experiments in being and living otherwise. She is deeply nourished by Black feminism and tries to live her life through its ethical guidance. Currently, she teaches on trauma at NAOS Institute, and on Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes (CWTP) within the faculty of Applied Social and Organisational Sciences at the Metanoia Institute. Recent publications include a bio-mythography How the Hiding Seek (2018), and As Much Space as We Can Imagine: Black Presence in Counselling and Psychotherapy (2019). She has contributed a chapter to What is Normal? published by Confer in November 2020 and is currently completing a book on the development of a Black therapist’s praxis for PCCS Books.
Robert Downes - practices as a psychotherapist, supervisor, teacher and student engaged in critical psychological study and practice drawing from a range of traditions: queer theory, black studies, critical theory, intersectional feminisms, relational psychoanalysis alongside the spiritual teachings and practices of the Diamond Approach, the music of Björk & Badu and a 20 year long dialogue and extensive hedge school study with my friend and colleague, Foluke Taylor. Robert is currently chair of The Relational School.
Foluke and Robert are currently developing a curriculum and programme that is rooted in liberation psychology, decolonising the curriculum and re-imagining therapeutic practice and learning.