Our Story

Shammi and Pretish met during their training at the minster centre in 2012. Through our training and now with our own private practices, as second generation British Asians with rich intersectional identities, we are very much aware the need to nurture and facilitate inclusion within the therapeutic field. Culture, faith, religion, colour, social background, sexuality, gender and neurodiversity (to name a few) all have a real impact on individuals’ lived experience and we believe that these should be recognised in the therapeutic alliance. 
We set up Aashna because we recognise the struggle diverse groups face in finding therapy that meets their needs, as well as the challenge practitioners from diverse backgrounds, face in trying to reach and support their communities.  Aashna is a unique therapeutic space, offering individuals from all backgrounds the opportunity to come together to nurture our voices and support each other to facilitate change.  Aashna's Let's Get Uncomfortable (LGU): Embedding explorations of race, ethnicity, culture and power in therapy embodies this social justice vision. 
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Pretish & Shammi

Our Ethos

Our Ethos is to honour diversity, difference and community in all its forms and our mission will be to inspire diverse groups to access therapy in support of wellbeing. 

Our aims at Aashna are: 

  • To make therapy more accessible for individuals from diverse backgrounds who struggle to find therapy. 

  • To inspire diverse groups to access therapy and support their psychological health 

  • To bring together practitioners of all backgrounds and orientations to support each other in our work.

  • To build a community that supports the counseling and psychotherapy field by proactively working with diverse groups

 
 

Our Community

Warm, friendly and welcoming; we hope that this is the essence that Aashna will offer you.

Our aim is to create a community where we can support each other as practitioners. A community of like-minded therapists who seek to bring these fundamental issues of culture and diversity into the forefront of their practice – practitioners who embrace difference and diversity in all its forms

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Let's Get Uncomfortable

Our Let's Get Uncomfortable project embedding explorations of race, ethnicity, culture and power in therapy and our Aashna + service embody our social justice vision.

Let's Get Uncomfortable (LGU) Resources Library


The LGU library is a library of resources growing out of the themes of race, ethnicity, culture and power. The images below show how to use the library. You can search the library using a keyword using the search box or use tags to search by category. To suggest a resource to be added email info@aashna.uk A direct link to the resources library to share is www.aashna.uk/resources gathered between the Aashna team, LGU team and participants throughout the LGU encounters and generously shared by colleagues across psychotherapy membership organisations.




About Let's Get Uncomfortable


In July 2019 we completed our series of Let's Get Uncomfortable (LGU) Embedding explorations of race, ethnicity, culture and power in counselling and psychotherapy trainings encounter's. They have been remarkable in the energy generated to challenge and change the way training organisations currently explore race, ethnicity, culture and power in their trainings. With the cycle of encounters complete we felt it was important to highlight some of the themes shared and explored. Shammi and Pretish opened the doors to Aashna to create action in promoting change in how counselling and psychotherapy trainings explore intersectionality, from the trainees to the organisation heads building on many before who have paved the way. We reached out to Therapy Today and in February 2019, Aashna's Therapy Today Article was published. LGU Encounters As part of Aashna’s vision to generate dialogues and facilitate change around diverse issues, we invited several organisations and individuals who continue to work around these topics and value their immense experience. We were pleased to affiliate with The Black, African and Asian Therapy Network (BAATN), The Psychotherapy and Counselling Union (PCU), Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility (PCSR) and The Minster Centre to create a series of encounters to challenge organisations to put cultural diversity at the heart of their courses. We quickly started a working group. Our aim: to create a series of encounters inviting students, trainers, supervisors, heads of organisations and training organisations of all backgrounds to create dialogues and action around our key question: What would a more inclusive training genuinely look like? First Encounter: Therapists of colour speak about their experiences of training Led by Pretish and Shammi, the encounter started with time for all our guests to meet and greet over Gujarati food and some drinks. Sitting on the floor covered with cushions. It was beautiful to see so many people for our most attended event. We wanted to honour the voices of colour and privilege their experience. This meant for the first segment (and majority of the encounter) anyone who did not identify as a person of colour was asked to not take space. This was an interesting experience as it was challenging and uncomfortable for 'us' to keep the space for 'us'. This indicated the unconscious and at times conscious privilege of white individuals. As our stories of training and beyond were shared, themes began to emerge from the powerful and brave narratives that were being shared. These included:

  • Assimilation of students in the training, unconscious collusion with our white colonising peers. Which then ask the question 'whose responsibility is it to raise awareness when this is happening?'
  • White privilege - This became apparent in the encounter where white voices shared their discomfort in their silence and some took the space which was for therapists of colour.
  • The brown voice which often can be silenced, hidden, not present, lost or not heard amongst the black and white voices.
  • Where are the other therapists of colour? who is not here and why?
  • Power in current structures and why we are stuck in a position of comfort.
  • Finding allies in organisations, but allies also feel alone. Allies need allies too.​
Second Encounter: What would a more inclusive training look like? BAATN's director Eugene Ellis led this encounter. Once again the therapists of colour voices led the encounter in a powerful exploration of what a truly inclusive training would look like. Much anxiety due to the sense of the enormity of what has to be tackled surfaced. The need for allies was echoed and that we are all in this together. The notion we all have a colour and all need to engage in the fight for inclusivity, tackling existing power structures and for an acknowledgement of whiteness and all that it holds. The key theme:
  • an invitation to take the emphasis away from individuals who are not white to exploring whiteness, which is often the majority in trainings and organisations.
Third Encounter: An Invitation to explore the challenges organisations face in being more inclusive? This encounter was led by PCU's Chair Richard Bagnall-Oakeley and PCSR's Beatrice Millar. The encounter started with a powerful experiential exercise separating the white therapists from other people of colour. This set the tone for the remainder of the encounter where the theme of allyship was explored. The key questions were explored:
  • What makes an ally?
  • Who's decides if you are an ally?
  • What stops organisations from being allies?
Once again this encounter proved to be an exciting, challenging, uncomfortable and powerful experience. We thank all organisations, training institutes and representatives from BACP that attended. The Final Encounter: Bringing our vision together The final Encounter was held at the Minster Centre led by by Alyson Jaffe, where we hosted over sixty attendees. A remarkable turn out. It was warming to be able to hold the end at our place of training. The evening started in true Aashna style with Gujarati food and other foods kindly prepared by Minster staff and students. We all mingled before took our space in the conference room. The event began by listening to some Music from Alyson Jaffe's homeland. We were guided to explore our journey from the encounters and give a sense as a whole group how we like to progress. What have we learnt from this journey and how do we take action? Please have a read of Devan Thakeria's blog reflecting on his own process around the LGU encounters. Shortly after the celebrations of completing my counselling diploma I found myself in a vacuum, one in which I needed to find some form of connection. This initially came in a form of a meet up group for black and Asian counselling students. During this meet up the anger in the room encased the neglect people felt from educational institutions and other peers. I found a form of belonging within that group but also left with sadness. I wondered why a group for black and Asian students has been set up, did that mean that any concerns of these students were falling on deaf ears in the outside world of therapy or not even voiced at all? By creating an "us", we created a "them" and how would anyone grow if "them" never knew the concerns of "us" and visa versa. In my experience of life so far most divisions create a land of misunderstandings...read full blog Several individuals have registered their interest in a working group to join BAATN, PCU, PCSR, The Minster Centre and Aashna. We are overwhelmed with the response these series of encounters has generated, not to mention the drive to support change that is already happening. Once again, Thank you to all that attended, donated to our Aashna + service that offers a longer-term, low-cost service for individuals diverse communities and experience who may otherwise struggle to access therapy, and who continue to support us. We hope to continue the Let's Get Uncomfortable process toward informing meaningful action and change through our future projects and Consultancy and Training.





 
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Your journey is
important to us

Working as a therapist is unique to the individual. We hope to encourage that individuality in all our therapists. We are interested in each of our therapist's ideas and professional interests and will endeavor to both facilitate and support your work.

 
 

Our Support

We aim to actively encourage and facilitate each other’s growth by providing complementary and/or affordable CPD, workshops and seminars that educate, develop and challenge our thinking and our work.

 

If you as a practitioner have a particular interest, specialty, or passion about certain issues and would like to lead or facilitate your own workshops or seminars we will hope to support you through the practice.

We believe in the collaborative process and a communal atmosphere and value your ideas and input.

 

Yoga sessions: We provide free yoga sessions for our therapists on Friday mornings at Aashna Finchley (N12),  facilitated by Deb - an experienced yoga teacher and therapist.

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