On Tuesday 12th of September, Nafsiyat Intercultural Therapy Centre organised an event to celebrate the legacy of our founder Jafar Kareem on the 25th anniversary of his death. We welcomed many important guests to our new premises, including Heloise Kareem, Jane Cook, Lennox Thomas, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Talal Karim, Gill Yudkin, Phillida Bartels-Ellis and Sharon Moorhouse. We had several speakers and had the opportunity to network with people involved in Nafsiyat’s past and present.
Jane Cook, Nafsiyat’s current Chair, started off the talks and underlined the need for organisations like Nafsiyat in the time we live in. She also mentioned Nafsiyat’s move back to the Archway area where it originally started.
The first speaker was Jafar’s widow, Heloise Kareem. She shared her gratitude to current Nafsiyat staff and volunteers for holding the event. This year is also the 70th anniversary of Indian Independence, and Heloise pointed out the importance of independence as one of the elements which shaped Jafar’s life and his ideas about setting up Nafsiyat.
Jafar has been very active in the Quit India Movement with Gandhi and his disappointment on the partition led him to seek new horizons as he didn’t feel he belonged in either India or the new Pakistan. Heloise explained Jafar was always interested in finding people who were different from him and identify with where they came from, their stories and their motivations. Jafar worked in different settings, but became dissatisfied with his collegues. He didn’t feel they understood what it was like to be black or Muslim.
“Jafar felt like he had something to give that he wasn’t able to use in that setting.”
She finished her words by pointing out Jafar’s optimism, his determination to change things for the better and his humanity being the elements to take away as his legacy.
Nafsiyat’s former Clinical Director Lennox Thomas continued the talks. He and Jafar met at psychotherapy training, he explained. Jafar asked him if he would be interested to be a part of Nafsiyat and he said he would. Lennox described Jafar Kareem “like a midwife constantly delivering new ideas which were always useful”. Lennox also mentioned that at the time, being different was almost like being invalidated, however Jafar always aimed to make a difference. He organised a national conference, wrote a book and created Intercultural Therapy. Lennox continued his talk by mentioning what even though Intercultural therapy was seen heretical at the time, many organisations acknowledge and use it in their practice now.
“Jafar was very inclusive, he stood for everybody”, Lennox continued. In addition, he cared a lot about training and research and supported the idea that Black and Minority background people do and can use therapy.
“Personally, I gained a lot from Jafar. Particularly, I gained the ability to think independently and not be a part of the herd. My training of psychotherapy was a training, being with Jafar was an education.”
Nafsiyat’s Senior Psychotherapist Jale Yazar surprised all the guests by saying her journey with Nafsiyat started 26 years ago when she became interested in the PG Intercultural Therapy course. Jale mentioned that Jafar was very innovative, containing and inspirational. She explained Jafar would always address important issues, people’s differences and similarities, analytic thought with the element of culture, upbringing, transference and gender differences. She finished her talk by stating Jafar had a very important role in her life both personally and professionally.
Researcher Natassia Brenman and Khadija Idris, Nafsiyat’s Community Link Worker, talked about the research Nafsiyat is currently working on. Natassia highlighted the importance of looking at client’s responses to therapy at different stages along their journey on the intercultural experience. They explained how they worked with a team of multilingual staff and volunteers to collect clients’ diverse experiences and help them think about their unique journeys. They mentioned that their findings showed that people spoke very highly about the quality of their therapy. It was also found that Nafsiyat is engaging really well with bigger external realities such as migration, cultural differences, issues of race and gender. In addition, Nafsiyat was found to be successful at matching clients with therapists which they felt culturally and linguistically comfortable with.
Overall, it was a very successful event and we would like to thank everyone who made the effort to join us on celebrating the life of Jafar Kareem. Thank you all for your input and support to Nafsiyat.
Written by Naz Altinok, Volunteer at Nafsiyat