CACBT Statement on Racism and Discrimination

The Canadian Association of Cognitive and Behavioural Therapies (CACBT) expresses its sincere condolences to the families, friends, and communities affected by the brutal and senseless killing of George Floyd whose repeated cries for police mercy, “I can’t breathe,” were ignored. Mr. Floyd is one of many Black people who have been murdered recently, including Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless others who have been victims of systemic hate, racism and bigotry over decades and centuries.

CACBT mourns with our colleagues and friends in the United States who have been directly impacted by the recent killing of Black citizens by police and stand together with the courageous individuals who are protesting to speak out against these egregious injustices.

Canada also has a history of discrimination and violence against Black, Indigenous, and other visible minorities, members of the LGBTQ community, immigrants, and women. CACBT stands in solidarity with those who suffer the effects of racism and discrimination, validates the serious experiences of racism that have triggered these protests, and supports the voices of many people who courageously speak out against all forms of individual, cultural, and systemic racism and discrimination.

In his text, Prisoners of Hate, Dr. Aaron T. Beck, the originator and developer of cognitive therapy, argued that individuals and societies can get caught in biased patterns of thinking (“hostile framing”) whereby they perceive others as evil and dangerous and themselves as right and good. This type of thinking locks the individual, institutions and societies in a “prison of hate” in which a false image of others is believed and reified, and people are not seen or valued for who they truly are. 

Cognitive behavioural therapy provides critical tools for helping individuals see the truth about their lives, their thinking, others, and society as a whole. As practitioners and researchers, members of CACBT, whose research and practice focuses on making this world a better, healthier, and safer place, have a responsibility to actively engage in anti-racist and anti-discrimination work.

As an organization, CACBT is committed to increasing inclusivity and fighting against racism and discrimination of all forms. Although this will be an ongoing effort, some of our more immediate goals will include:

  • Creating a webinar series in which we invite speakers with lived experience (as well as professional expertise) to talk about CBT with diverse communities, with the aim of better equipping health care professionals to practice with cultural humility, to identify and address issues of racism and discrimination in their practice, and to better support any stakeholders who encounter these issues.
  • Starting a dialogue to develop initiatives aimed at increasing access to CBT for clients from racialized groups as well as developing CBT-based approaches that are more sensitive to issues of racial and ethnic identity.
  • Establishing a student award that supports research conducted by an individual from a visible minority background.
  • Taking concrete steps to increase diversity of our membership and our board so that voices from minority populations can be heard and made actionable.

2020-19 CACBT Board of Directors

David J. A. Dozois (President)
Andrea Ashbaugh (Past-President)
Karen Rowa (President-Elect)
Gillian Alcolado (Secretary Treasurer)
Jacqueline Cohen (Certification Chair)
Madelaine Burley (Membership Chair)
Kathryn Sexton (Chair of Communications and Advocacy)
Noah Lazar (Member-at-Large)
Catherine Ouellet-Courtois (Chair of Francophone Relations)
Leanne Kane (Student Affiliate Representative)