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Faith at work

I have had the priviledge to contribute a chapter in The International Handbook of Black Community Mental Health. Edited by Richard Majors, Karen Carberry & Theodore Ranshaw.

My Chapter is titled:

Towards positions of spiritual reflexivity as a resource: Emerging themes and conversations for systemic practice, leadership, and supervision within black mental health.

My Chapter emerged from an ongoing research project that identifies faith and spirituality as a resource in supervision and leadership coaching; particularly for black community leaders in mental health settings. My faith as a Christian woman is important in all aspects of my life including my profession and business and I seek to build a bridge between all domains of existence and bring that authentic and transparent part of self into the consulting room; in the hope it allows others to do the same. 

Faith and spirituality is multi-faceted and I will read part of the poem that I included in the chapter so you can get a sense of what I mean.

The Diversity of my Faith

Faith is a seed, plant it Faith is a servant, put it to work Faith is a hope, have it Faith is a currency, spend it Faith is blameless, free it Faith is truth, believe it Faith dictates time, set it Faith is a shield, wear it Faith is your partner, honour it Faith is gift, receive it Faith is understanding, get it Faith is courageous, stand on it Faith is God, embrace Him!

My chapter introduces the systemic idea of spiritual reflexivity; seeing spirituality as a resource that de-centres religion and is seen through the lens of relationship with a divine GPS (God Positioning System).

There are 3 core themes in the chapter.

Firstly, Spirituality is important for BAME community members and often at the centre and source of support for many with mental health difficulties. Mental Health is applicable to all sections of community not just those in receipt of services. Our professional context and life circumstances can cause us stress due to the impact of systemic oppression and racism. We are often straddling reflexive positions of being part of our communities, serving our communities and working for oppressive and systemically racist organisations. Additionally, Spiritual Reflexivity, is seen as a form of cultural competence, providing a useful framework not only for collaboration within the Black community but as a historical component of Black community cohesion and access to support.

Second, I own my bias as a Christian woman, however, religion is de-centred in the conversation and I talk about the relational aspects of how my faith at work impact and influence my decision-making and the healing process for those I have the privilege to coach and supervise. Systemic practitioners may use frameworks such as the social GGRRAACCEESS (Burnham & Harris, 2005) to signpost them toward a series of curiosities around culture and identity which places their significance firmly on the professional territory. Given there is a great deal of scope for transforming mental health services for Black service users there remains a plethora of possibility for utilising a lens of spiritual reflexivity as a resource.

Thirdly, there is less discourse around the applicability of spirituality expressed as a resource within leadership and supervisory practice, however, it can play a significant role for leaders, managers and supervisors who practice from positions of spiritual awareness, orientation and competence. This might particularly be relevant for Black African Caribbean practitioners that consider themselves to have a history of strength based spiritual approaches and support systems inherent within our cultural identity. I also talk about how science and faith are not separated, but how positions of inspiration and challenge co-exist to create a transformational, visionary, authentic and servant leadership styles; blended together in the conversational space that I consider to be my marketplace ministry. 

I hope you get something from reading the chapter alongside the wealth of other contributions.

get a copy here

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