Rahim Thawer is one of the South African College of Applied Psychology (SACAP) visiting scholars. He’s a man with much compassion and wisdom. Which he has shared enthusiastically and generously during training, lectures and webinars. Rahim’s background is layered. He identifies as a queer, South Asia (Indian) Muslim. Throughout his life, this mix of attributes has placed him within challenging personal contexts. However, it also makes him the ideal advocate for pride in practice. And able to provide invaluable insight into the complexities of what it means to be part of the LGBTQ+ community.
Who is Rahim Thawer?
Rahim currently lives in Toronto, Canada. He has a degree in social work and is a registered psychotherapist. He lectures at the universities of Toronto and Waterloo, where he is also a sought-after student clinical supervisor. Additionally, Rahim works as a private consultant and is the author of many publications and books. His much-anticipated upcoming book, Seeking – Stories from a Gay Therapist making sense of Connection and Relationships, will available in 2023. Within his therapeutic work as a Clinical Social Worker, he is particularly interested in the intersection between systematic oppression and mental health.
SACAP’s International Visiting Scholar
Rahim partnered with SACAP as an international visiting scholar. During this time, he has delivered webinars in conjunction with the SACAP Social Work and Community Development Faculty. Co-chaired lectures with experts, such as Dr Gordon Isaacs. And partnered with organisations at various events. These, for example, have focused on contemporary relationships, supporting someone when they come out and relationship communication. One of the purposes of these events is to provide insight into the practicalities of Pride in Practice.
In addition to his partnership with SACAP, Rahim did staff training in Johannesburg. Training was focused on Service Providers. Specifically, workshopping through drivers of shame, body image, substance use and relationships. The purpose of these training sessions was to get Service Providers to think and better understand how these drivers impact mental health outcomes. Particularly for those within the LGBTQ+ community.
What is the Meaning of LGBTQ+?
The term LGBTQ+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer. The LGBTQ+ acronym describes distinct groups as per how they relate to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Within the LGBTQ+ community there is an acknowledgement that there is a difference between sex at birth, gender expression and gender identity. Sex at birth is largely based on the appearance of male or female external genitals. Gender identity is an inner understanding and knowledge of one’s own gender. And gender expression is how someone lives out their gender identity. For example, their use of pronouns or choice of clothing.
What is the + in LGBTQ+?
The “+” in the LGBTQ+ abbreviation represents the recognition of non-cisgender and non-straight identities. Those who are cisgender, have a personal identity and gender which correspond to their birth sex.
What is Pride Month or Pride LGBTQ+?
Annually, the Stonewall riots (uprising) of 1969 are commemorated in June. These riots took place between 28th June and 3rd July, starting at Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York City. In addition to remembering the Stonewall riots, works to achieve equal opportunity and justice for the LGBTQ+ community are honoured.
The first gay pride march was held on the 28th June 1970 in New York City. Since then, part of Pride in Practice has manifested as Pride Month. Globally, June is recognised as Pride Month. Typically, this happens via a series of planned events. Which often culminate in parades of colourful floats and marches participated in by the LGBTQ+ community and their supporters.
SACAP and Rahim Advocating Awareness and Change
The SACAP events, as well as others, have sought to shed light on, and unpack, the complexities of various LGBTQ+ topics. Particularly those faced within the context of counselling, psychology and social work. They form part of SACAP’s Pride in Practice approach as well as SACAP’s LGBTQ awareness journey with Rahim. Click on the links below to listen or watch these events.
Social Work Webinars
The starting point of working as a Human Service Practitioner is to ask “Why do I want to work as a social worker or within the psychology field?“
According to Rahim there is a common thread across responses. This being that someone wants to support and work with people who struggle in a similar way to themselves. Essentially, this makes working within these fields a calling and passionate vocation rather than a 9-to-5 job. As part of his SACAP’s Social Work Webinar Series, Rahim explored the trickiness of working within a community that you belong to.
Watch The Practice Dialogue Series
- Safety & Countertransference
- Creativity and Harm Reduction Counselling
- Shame and Sexuality: A Queer Therapist’s Perspective
- Supporting clients and their family members when someone “comes out”
During the first seminar, Rahim explored the dynamics of cultural safety, transference, countertransference and looked at counselling case studies.
The second webinar, started with a quiz that investigated listeners’ own perceptions. Rahim then used these anonymous responses, to explore how one’s perceptions and actions impact yours and other’s lives. As well as a counselling approach. Within this context, he delves into why people indulge in harmful behaviours, challenges of doing so and when it’s a problem.
The third webinar contextualised the discussion within a brief anonymous survey and case studies. The thesis of the discussion was that anyone who is a gender or sexual minority, will likely have pervasive shame. And that this stays with them throughout their lives. Interestingly, the content of this seminar is relevant to both those who are and aren’t part of the LGPTQ+ community.
Finally, the fourth webinar concluded the webinar series with Rahim unpacking three case studies to contextualise the topic. He then worked through 9 common questions that arise when someone (LGBTQ+) comes out. Also providing possible responses and answers.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within these webinars are solely the speaker’s and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of SACAP or its affiliates.
SAFM Late Night Conversations
SAFM’s Patricia Ntuli hosted Rahim on her show Late Night Conversation. This discussion focused on various ways of finding a counsellor and methods of counselling. Part of this discussion explored the harm reduction approach. It’s an increasingly popular counselling approach, which differs from the more traditional abstinence approach of dealing with addiction and harmful behaviours.
At its essence, the harm reduction approach seeks to understand high risk behaviour in a respectful and inclusive manner. Which means that it does not promote cutting out, for example, gambling or taking of drugs. Instead, it seeks to explore the negative outcomes of behaviour. And then, works towards assisting the client to curb some of their harmful behaviours. Thereby, systematically working towards minimising and mitigating negative outcomes. Essentially, the aim is to manage damage associated with risky or harmful behaviours. Thus, it may or may not result in eliminating harmful and risky behaviours.
Becoming a Change Advocate
Are you interested in helping people deal with various forms of addiction? Perhaps, you are interested in assisting communities with understanding and enacting change? Or supporting those who are coming out and their families? Then, consider studying a counselling or coaching course or becoming a Social Worker. Courses at the South African College of Applied Psychology (SACAP) enable you to acquire the skills, necessary knowledge and recognised qualification to do this. For more information, enquire now.
1. What does it mean to be a good ally to the LGBTQ+ community?
The starting point to be a good LGBTQ+ ally is to act as a confidant to people you care about. Additionally, become an independent scholar and thereby educate yourself on what it means to be LGBTQ+.
2. How do you choose a therapist?
Foremost ensure that you are comfortable with the therapist you select. Think about if you are going to be more or less comfortable working with someone from your immediate community. It’s often helpful to look for someone with specific lived experience, in areas such as culture, gender and sexual orientation.
How do you know if you're gay?
Think about if you feel like you fit into the world around you. Particularly where heterosexuality is being promoted. Trust your gut and if you don’t feel you fit in explore. This is not about finding the correct label or engaging in sexual relations. It’s about meeting other people who have questioned their place in the mainstream world. And have therefore been in a similar situation as you currently are.