Mixed race identity and counselling

Mixed race identity and counselling

Therapy Today
Volume 26, Issue 10 (December 2015)
pages 16-20

Nicola Codner
Leeds, Yorkshire, United Kingdom

Nicola Codner describes her own identity as a mixed race woman and calls on counsellors to learn more about the psychosocial needs of our third largest ethnic minority group

I felt compelled to submit an article to Therapy Today because I’m aware that, as a mixed race woman (of black Jamaican, Nigerian and white British heritage), every time I pick up a copy of the journal I’m scanning for articles on mixed race identity and counselling/mental health. I rarely find anything on the topic and when I do it tends to be a mere few lines or paragraphs that only acknowledge the lack of attention paid to this group. This is disappointing and frustrating. Mixed race identity and issues are so invisible in the counselling world, despite the fact that this section of the population is the fastest growing and the third largest ethnic minority in the UK.

Dialogue around issues affecting mixed race children, adults and families, is increasing slightly in the UK but it is still insubstantial. I notice in the US (where the mixed race population is also quickly increasing) this is a different story. Research on the mixed race population is more abundant and counsellors are being made aware that they need to be able to consider the needs of this part of the population and be able to show specific competence in working with this group. Research in the UK is minimal and counselling books that focus exclusively on mixed race people are absent. As noted by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, social policy makers are taking a slow-paced approach to including mixed race Britons, despite the fact we are the country with the most mixed relationships in the developed world.

It was only in 2001 that the racial category of mixed race was added to the National Census of Population. The term is most commonly understood as applying to people who have one white parent and one parent from an ethnic minority. However, this traditional understanding of the term excludes those who have parents of different races where neither parent is white. Again, there is more dialogue around this in the US where it is more commonly acknowledged that our general understanding of who is included in the mixed race category needs to broaden. It’s also important to acknowledge that not all people who have parents of different races will identify as mixed race, which means the mixed race population could be larger in the UK than is currently observed (as an example, some people of black and white parentage may choose to identify solely as black). In addition some mixed race people are of more than two races which is often ignored…

Read the entire article here.

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