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Anti-Oppressive Practice

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Call for Papers

Special Issue on “Anti-Oppressive Practice in Psychotherapy and Counselling”


Special Issue Editors:

  • Gávi Ansara (he/him), psychotherapist, clinical educator, psychological researcher, and international social justice and community activist; Ansara Psychotherapy/Imanadari Counselling Melbourne Branch;
  • Keri Lawson-Te Aho (she/her), Indigenous rights activist; educator and researcher, University of Otago, Wellington School of Medicine, NZ;
  • IlanaRei Goss, LICSW (she/her), clinical social worker and psychotherapist near Boston, MA, USA, queer rights activist, disability educator; and,
  • Rhys Price-Robertson (he/him), PACJA Editor.

The Special issue editors can be contacted at specialissue@pacja.org.au.


Submission Deadline: Submissions closed (as of April 30 2020). Please contact the editors with any queries.


Anti-oppressive practice is an emerging international framework for psychotherapy and counselling that stresses the clinical relevance of recognising privilege, as well as challenging systemic barriers in communities and societies beyond the confines of clinical sessions (e.g., Ansara, 2019; Brown, 2019; Corneau & Stergiopoulos, 2012; Reeve, 2000). It is an approach to clinical practice that is anchored in the therapeutic value of applying anti-oppressive principles such as cultural humility, challenging colonialism and inequities, reflective practice, recognising intersecting forms of oppression, and working toward change within communities and societies by decolonising and reshaping clinical practice (Ansara, 2019). In this approach, psychotherapeutic work is founded on principles such as cultural humility, cultural safety, decolonisation, promoting social justice, and challenging oppressive power structures, beyond merely “affirming” marginalised peoples within clinical sessions or using buzzwords that celebrate human diversity.

Anti-oppressive practice relies on therapists recognising their own implicit biases and privilege in order to be safe professionals. Anti-oppressive practice includes taking responsibility for their own education and awareness, instead of expecting people who participate in psychotherapy to educate them. At the same time, anti-oppressive practice involves a lifelong commitment to cultural humility, instead of claims to “cultural competence”. It also involves therapists taking advice from communities of people with lived experience; listening to and prioritising their experiences, especially when their accounts conflict with dominant psychotherapeutic narratives. Anti-oppressive practice is not limited to a single issue or population, but more broadly to challenging oppressive power structures that reflect, produce, and sustain racism, sexism, heterosexism, cisgenderism, intersex erasure, monogamism, classism, ethnocentrism, colonialism, ableism, ageism, xenophobia, and other intersecting forms of structural oppression.

PACJA is actively seeking papers for a special issue on “Anti-oppressive practice in psychotherapy and counselling,” covering (but not limited to) the following themes:

  • ethnocentrism, colonialism, and other structural oppressions in psychotherapeutic methods, techniques, professional standards, and training (e.g., overdiagnosis and misdiagnosis of psychosis in marginalised, minoritised societies and Indigenous/Aboriginal/First Nations cultures; pathologising of sex workers, non-binary people, and bisexual people, who have often been misdiagnosed with personality disorders or pathologised as a result of clinicians lacking understanding of their lived experiences);
  • access barriers due to lack of diversity in dominant standards of care (e.g., standard practices that are triggering and uncomfortable for asylum-seekers, refugees, Indigenous/Aboriginal/First Nations peoples, and those who have experienced state-sponsored violence; discriminatory scrutiny and screening applied to people of trans and/or non-binary experience or identity who seek administrative and/or medical gender affirmation);
  • limitations of techniques and interventions based on dominant cultural assumptions (e.g., assumptions about “attachment” and “co-dependency” based on individualistic, ethnocentric, and colonial beliefs about human relationships);
  • pathologising of natural human diversity and emotional distress due to injustice and systemic oppression (e.g., when spirit possession is classified as a psychiatric disorder in ICD and DSM diagnostic frameworks);
  • evidence-based recommendations for ensuring the inclusion of Indigenous/Aboriginal/First Nations perspectives and forms of spiritual and cross-cultural diversity in mental health services standards; and
  • critically evaluating how discourses of “evidence” base can be used in oppressive and exclusionary ways to privilege or silence marginalised peoples and lived experiences.

Types of articles welcomed include (but are not limited to):

  • original, empirical studies with sentient participants that may use experimental, quantitative, qualitative, and/or methods that combine different approaches and techniques;
  • systematic reviews and meta-analyses that document examples of anti-oppressive practice, critique oppressive practice, and/or evaluate interventions to reduce oppression in psychotherapy and counselling;
  • articles on working with historical trauma/complex trauma/intergenerational trauma, understanding links between prolonged stress/duress and physiological impacts (e.g., how intergenerational trauma and prolonged distress can influence human genomics), and understanding how trauma impacts psychosocial functioning within communities; and,
  • commentaries and theoretical articles by community activists, psychotherapists, counsellors, administrators, educators, curriculum designers, and policy makers.

The editors particularly welcome articles from authors with marginalised lived experiences, including but not limited to: people of transgender and/or non-binary experience or identity and people with traditionally recognised genders such as Sistergirls, Brotherboys, takatāpui, Bissu, etc.; intersex people; people from geographically African or Asian contexts; people from asylum-seeker, refugee, or migrant backgrounds or contexts; Indigenous/First Nations/Aboriginal peoples and societies from around the world; people with lived experience of poverty and/or homelessness; people with disability labels and/or impairments; Autistic/aspie people; people in consensually non-monogamous and/or polyamorous relationships; people in same-gender relationships and/or people who describe themselves or their experiences as bisexual, pansexual, asexual spectrum, queer, lesbian, gay, or related terms; people with lived experience as sex workers; and people with more than one of the above characteristics or lived experiences.

Submission Guidelines

Information for authors and submission guidelines can be accessed on the PACJA website. When submitting an article via PACJA’s online submission portal, authors should indicate that the article is intended for the special issue on “Anti-oppressive practice psychotherapy and counselling”.

In addition to the PACJA submission guidelines, it is expected that submissions will not only address topics, themes, and content relevant to anti-oppressive practice, but will also demonstrate anti-oppressive research methods and/or writing practices, such as:

  • considering and citing sources from people and populations with lived experience (“nothing about us, without us, is for us”);
  • using the language that people and communities use about themselves, without imposing a dominant frame of reference or medicalised language not preferred by the people and communities themselves (i.e., emic, not etic);
  • ensuring that research not only has institutional ethics approval, but also a community reference group, including community oversight from people with lived experience; and
  • including the people and populations being written about in the development of research priorities and/or research questions, and/or modifying priorities and questions based on feedback from such people and populations.

As PACJA is an academic journal, the regular standards of academic scholarship are expected in submissions to this special issue:

  • While the editors are highly encouraging of a diverse range of approaches, methodologies, and techniques, it is expected that authors will adhere to the academic standards that are relevant to their particular approaches. For example, the use of case studies is encouraged, but it is expected that authors who take this approach will draw on relevant methodological literature, which details standards for conducting and reporting case studies.
  • For potential authors who do not have experience publishing in academic journals, the editors suggest collaboration with co-authors who do have such experience.
  • For potential authors who do not have experience writing in English, the editors suggest collaboration with co-authors who do.

If potential authors would like to discuss their ideas, or if they have any questions about the expected standards, they are encouraged to contact the editorial team.

Submissions to this special issue will be subject to a peer review process. Upon submission, the editors will make an initial assessment about whether the paper fits within the scope of the issue, and whether it meets the standards expected of an academic journal. If, at this point, submissions are deemed not suitable for the issue, the editors will make suggestions to the authors about other potential options for their work. If the submission is assessed as within the scope of the issue, the paper will be sent to at least two independent peer reviewers. In line with anti-oppressive methodologies, at least one of these reviewers will be from the population about whom the paper has been written. If the peer review process ultimately indicates that a submission is not suitable for publication in the issue, again, the editors will work with the authors to consider other options for their work.


The Psychotherapy and Counselling Journal of Australia (PACJA) is an international, peer-reviewed journal that aims to contribute to the evidence-base for counselling and psychotherapy. Established by the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA) in 2012, the Journal publishes empirical studies featuring quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods approaches as well as theoretical essays, literature reviews, experiential reports and book reviews.


Ansara, Y. G. (2019, June). Foundations of ‘LGBTQI/A/P/K’ Psychotherapy: Intro to applied clinical anti-oppressive practice with people’s genders, sexualities, relationships, & bodies. Original training day CPD content presented for Australian Psychological Society (APS) Melbourne Branch, Melbourne.

Brown, J. D. (2019). Anti-oppressive counseling and psychotherapy: Action for personal and social change. New York, NY: Routledge.

Corneau, S., & Stergiopoulos, V. (2012). More than being against it: Anti-racism and anti-oppression in mental health services. Transcultural psychiatry, 49(2), 261-282.

Reeve, D. (2000). Oppression within the counselling room. Disability & Society, 15(4), 669-682.