Counselling for Issues Around Race and Difference

Race. Racism. Discrimination. Judgement. Prejudice. Difference. Diversity. Equality. What is race, what is racism and why do they matter?

One dictionary defines race as ‘a category of humankind that shares certain distinctive physical traits.’ Another describes race as ‘a population within a species that is distinct in some way.’  We generally refer to race in terms of colour or origin: for example, white, black, hispanic, African, Caribbean, Indian or Chinese. Many groups of people who share certain physical and cultural traits might be considered subpopulations within the human race.

Another way of looking at race is to feel there is only one race: the human race. There are arguments to support both viewpoints. We might consider all humans as one race, or we might celebrate difference and diversity. People who hold or express racist views may fear difference and diversity might suffer from a condition known as ‘racism.

How do we address racism in therapy

Talking about racism may be uncomfortable. Racism is a visceral thing felt on emotional, psychological and physical levels. To understand racism we need to understand each other. To stop racism, we need to acknowledge and challenge racism in society. One by one, we might evaluate our own belief systems and open ourselves to the possibility that ideas about race and culture are challengeable. Social influences play a role and education, too, plays a role in how our ideas about race are shaped.

Therapy helps by processing the harm caused by racism, the origins of racist beliefs and the effects that unequal societies have on every person. Being free of prejudice, fear, racism and judgement can be liberating. Anyone affected by racism may benefit from sessions with a therapist. Anyone with difficult or negative ideas about race and culture is welcome to explore these beliefs with a qualified therapist in a careful, non-judgemental setting.

Client Testimonials

Racism is not just one thing

There are different types of racism though all types of racism share the same core belief that one group of people is superior to another.

Cultural racism is a view that members of another race have a flawed culture. A group of people doing something culturally different from what is valued by the majority may therefore be deemed inferior. Hostile racism is when racist behaviour is overt with a mission of rejecting, subordinating or destroying a cultural identity or race. Passive racism is when a person becomes complicit in racist ideology through inaction. Genetic determinism is an ideology that some races are biologically inferior. Internalised racism is when a person embraces stereotypes and negative attitudes about their own ethnic group and turns these attitudes inwards towards himself or outwards towards his ethnic group.

A group will often have a tribal view that their shared customs, values, religious beliefs and cultural systems are superior to those of another group.

We all carry racist beliefs to some extent

It’s hard to escape racism. Whatever a person’s colour or ethnicity, it’s easy for most of us to believe that a person of another background is inferior or superior to oneself.

Stereotypes are embedded in society, in films, in television, in advertising and in folklore and we are all vulnerable to external ideas about race and culture. While racism is endemic in most societies, we feel racism most when we see the damage it can do to individuals, to entire populations and to society.

The more vulnerable a person is to race-based maltreatment, the more likely a person will be aware of their own difference. A white person in the UK is unlikely to consider what it means to be white, while a black person may be in constant awareness of what it means to be black.

Culturally sensitive therapy helps.

What to expect in couples counselling

I’m often struck by the anxiety that I see on the faces of clients when they come to their first couples counselling appointment. They are invariably wondering what’s going to happen. Will they have to reveal things they don’t want to say in front of their partner? Will their…

Read more

What to expect in counselling

When I trained as a psychotherapist, me and my fellow students were given the assignment of doing something we’d never done before. The course tutors wanted us to get in touch with how scary it can be to do something new, to feel the fear of the unknown. I chose to …

Read more

Individual counselling

Personal counselling can be about anything that’s on your mind.

Read more

Couples counselling

Couples counselling provides space for couples to discuss problems in their relationship and find solutions.

Read more

Therapists in London

Finding the right therapist is an important first step.

Read more

One Therapy London

Counselling, psychotherapy, couples counselling in London since 2006

Therapist Asma Gharbi
Asma Gharbi

Consultant Psychodynamic Psychotherapist Couples and Relationship Therapist Counselling Psychologist Asma offers psychodynamic, humanistic and integrative therapies to individuals and couples She tailors her approach to meet the needs and preferences of her clients She offers short and long term therapy Asma provides a non-judgemental space for her clients, where they...

Oxford Circus


Therapist Marta Pisarri
Marta Pisarri

Consultant Integrative Psychotherapist Visiting lecturer at Regent's University Diploma in Somatic Trauma Therapy Advance Diploma in Integrative Psychotherapy MA in Counselling and Psychotherapy MSc in Clinical Psychology Marta is a psychologist and an integrative psychotherapist: she has been working in the field of mental health for over 12 years in both private...



Therapist Barbara Perini
Barbara Perini

Consultant Therapist MSc in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy DIT - Dynamic Interpersonal Therapy BSc in Clinical Psychology Barbara is an accredited member of BACP, holding an MSc in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy and adhering to the BACP ethical framework Her approach is open-ended, offering both short-term and long-term therapy Barbara has also trained in Dynamic...

Oxford Circus

Therapist Yussef Ferguson
Yussef Ferguson

Consultant Psychodynamic Psychotherapist MSc Psychodynamic Counselling and Psychotherapy BA (Hons) Social Work Yussef is a Psychodynamic Psychotherapist who offers both long and short term personal therapy to individuals He has experience of working with a diverse range of clients and can provide a warm, confidential space to explore and gain insight into any past or...

Oxford Circus

Therapist Magda Piesiewicz
Magda Piesiewicz

Psychosexual and Relationship Therapist MSc in Psychology Post Graduate Diploma in Clinical Sexology Magda helps couples and individuals who are facing psychosexual and relationship struggles She also specialises in compulsive sexual behaviours (often misunderstood as sex addiction) She aims to create a non-judgmental, supportive space where her clients can be open...


Therapist Ben Brackenbury
Ben Brackenbury

Consultant Therapist Head of Therapy Training Programmes Ben believes that at times we all struggle with the challenges life has to offer and therapy provides a safe, confidential, non-judgemental space to explore this Ben works with individuals to make sense of who they are and how they respond to the world today, and to explore new ways of being Ben is also...

Oxford Circus

Therapist Geraldine Lothian
Geraldine Lothian

Consultant Therapist Geraldine (she/her) is a psychodynamic psychotherapist who works with individuals Geraldine’s style of therapy is to work collaboratively with her clients and at each client’s pace  It is sometimes difficult to make the decision to start therapy but Geraldine works together with her clients to address any issues that may feel difficult to...


Therapist Stamatia Lorentzou
Stamatia Lorentzou

Senior Consultant Therapist Stamatia draws on a broad range of theories of psychotherapy She works collaboratively with her clients to understand the causes of their concern and find ways to move forward Stamatia offers both short-term and longer-term therapy She has worked in various organisational settings with individuals seeking to address relationship issues,...


Therapist Rhiannon Whipps
Rhiannon Whipps

Consultant Therapist Rhiannon is a psychodynamic counsellor and psychotherapist with over ten years experience of working within the field of mental health Rhiannon provides an empathic and non-judgemental therapeutic space for her clients to explore any difficulties which they may be facing Within the safety of a confidential environment, she encourages her clients...

Oxford Circus


Therapist Patricia Connolly
Patricia Connolly

Consultant Psychodynamic Psychotherapist Patricia works within a psychodynamic approach This focuses on early life experience and  relationships to help you understand how they shape who you are in the present When you begin to more fully explore your emotions and attitudes you can find a deeper self–knowledge, which can also transform the way you relate to...