Race and CAT

Harris, Y., 2000. Race and CAT. Reformulation, ACAT News Spring, p.x.


I have just received my copy of the ACAT newsletter and during my initial ‘flick through’, I noticed the letter from Janet Toye (

Working with Victims of Racism

) in response to the letter from Carol Lomax (A White Therapist's Tale). I felt a real spark of enthusiasm that someone else has raised the issue of Race and culture in therapy. This is not a direct response to Janet’s letter but more of a ‘letting my voice be heard’ as a therapist who is black.

One of the things that attracted me to CAT was the belief that as a therapeutic model it appeared to envelop the social and political as well as the intra-personal issues affecting clients (perhaps that was my understanding). If we as therapists are working with inter-personal as well as intra-personal aspects of an individuals life, how can we fail to explore in the training issues such as race and culture.

I am constantly made aware of how deeply ingrained racism is in our psyche - (I include myself in this having been brought up in this society). As a trainer on counselling courses I have experienced real resistance in trying to focus on the issue of race and culture. Clive Avril has commented that

"the greatest threat that many black people face on a day to day basis in this country is that of cultural and racial discrimination" (1997).

Race is not only a problem for black people it is an issue for all as the effects of racism on the therapeutic relationship is not only centred on black/white interaction but also on black/black white/white relationships. It is also about what happens to clients and therapists outside the counselling room for instance how accessible are we as practitioners to the different sections of society and for CAT in particular, how accessible is the training to individuals who tend to be in the lower income brackets.

We need to feel comfortable in ourselves in discussion of race in order to not feel deskilled or speechless when confronted by clients in our therapeutic relationships. CAT for me is a modern therapy, it is an active therapy and within that it is a political therapy.

Yvonne Harris is a CAT practitioner working in a university counselling service.

The Therapy Process: A Personal View. Clive Avril, RACE, No.14, 1997

Yvonne Harris

Full Reference

Harris, Y., 2000. Race and CAT. Reformulation, ACAT News Spring, p.x.

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