Join the Conversation!

We are delighted that you are interested in attending Let the Voices Be Heard! An International Conversation on Counselling, Psychotherapy and Social Justice, a conference jointly planned by the American Counseling Association (ACA), the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (IACP).

You should find all of the information you need to register for the conference or submit a proposal on this page. Please do check back for updates regarding keynote speakers, programme details, information about our online webcast, and any special announcements.

Read on to learn more about the conference and what to expect in October 2019.

Registration and pricing

Registration for the conference is being handled by BACP. Conference fees are quoted in pounds sterling, but you can check conversion rates here. Click below to learn more and register at BACP's site.


Three Counselling Organisations United

ACA logo      BACP logo  IACP lgo

How did ACA, BACP and IACP decide to plan a joint conference on social justice?

Each of our three nations has its own unique history which informs counsellors’ and psychotherapists’ understanding of, and approach to, social justice. There is much we can learn from sharing our different histories and experiences, and this is why we have titled our conference an international conversation.

How did it all come about? Well, it all began with a conversation! Back in May 2016, several leaders from ACA, BACP, and IACP met at the BACP research conference. They discussed working on a joint project with the hope that they could accomplish something none of the three organisations had done individually, together. Ideas flew thick and fast, and a theme emerged: social justice concerns were rising in prominence in each country and each organisation recognized the relationship between clients’ mental health and clients’ experiences with oppression, poverty and/or discrimination.

The idea for an international conference on counselling, psychotherapy and social justice was born.

We know counsellors across the US, the UK and Ireland are already doing spectacular work with their clients and within their communities, and that they’re often intimately involved with social justice concerns, but we felt there was merit in an international event because of the potential to learn from each other’s experiences. More specifically, we are curious about how our different cultural approaches to, and understandings of, social justice might be applied in new environments.

It is our hope that the dialogue established by ACA, BACP and IACP as part of the planning process will grow and strengthen in Belfast and continue long after the conference’s conclusion.

To facilitate the continuation of our conversation, we will develop a training programme at the conference which will incorporate key findings. More information on the training programme will follow.

Contribute to the conversation by registering to attend the conference.


Meet our keynote speaker: Dr. Manivong J. Ratts

Dr RattsManivong J. Ratts is professor of counselling at Seattle University and  chair of the Department of Leadership and Professional Studies (AEDT,   Counselling, EDLR, SDA, and TESOL). Dr. Ratts received his Ph.D. in Counselling from Oregon State University (OSU). He holds an associate’s degree from Yakima Valley Community College, a bachelor's degree in psychology from Western Washington University, and a master's degree in counselling from OSU. In 2018, he was awarded a Doctorate of  Humane Letters, Honors Causa from Lewis and Clark College for his work in advancing multiculturalism and social justice in the counselling profession and was the graduate commencement keynote, Advocating for Social Change in a Toxic Political Climate.

Dr. Ratts is a licensed mental health counsellor (L.M.H.C.) and past President of Counselors for Social Justice, a division of ACA. His research is in the area of multiculturalism and social justice. He is one of the nation’s leading scholars in the area of social justice counselling. He coined the term “social justice counseling” and argued that social justice is a “fifth force” among counselling paradigms, following the psychoanalytic, cognitive-behavioral, humanistic, and multicultural traditions.

Dr. Ratts chaired a committee which developed Multicultural and Social Justice Counseling Competencies (MSJCC) for the counselling profession with Drs. Anneliese Singh, Sylvia Nassar-McMillan, Kent Butler, and Rafe McCullough. The MSJCC serve as a guide to help counselling professionals develop multicultural and social justice competence. The competencies have been adopted by ACA and are used in counsellor training programmes across the US.

Dr. Ratts has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Counseling and Development and the Journal for Social Action in Counseling and Psychology. He has published in various peer-reviewed journals on social justice counseling and is lead author of the following books Counseling for Multiculturalism and Social Justice: Integration, Theory, and Application (2014) with Dr. Paul B. Pedersen and ACA Advocacy Competencies: A Social Justice Framework for Counselors (2010) with Dr. Judy Lewis and Dr. Rebecca Toporek. He has produced two video series through Alexander Street Press titled Four Approaches to Counseling One Client: Medical, Intrapsychic, Multicultural, and Social Justice Counseling Paradigms (2011) and Five Forces of Counseling and Psychotherapy: Psychoanalytic, Cognitive-Behavioral, Existential-Humanistic, Multicultural, and Social Justice (2013).

Meet our keynote speaker: Eina McHugh

keynote speaker

Eina McHugh is a writer, entrepreneurial specialist with University College Dublin's Innovation Academy, Irish Fulbright Scholar and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

A Former CEO and Artistic Director of The Ark, A Cultural Centre for Children in Dublin, for 10 years (2005-2015), Eina was responsible for all Ark programming, including the commissioning of award-winning works across multiple art forms.

As an independent consultant, Eina has worked with Channel 4, BBC,The Paul Hamlyn Foundation, The Nursery Channel, British Film Institute, S4C International and the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.   Previous senior leadership posts include Director of the Second World Summit on Television for Children in London, Head of Project Development for the Welsh Broadcaster S4C's Commercial Division in London,  Deputy Director of the Northern Ireland Film Council,  Director of the Cinemagic International Film Festival for Children and Young People, and Director of 'E Force', the BBC/E.U. Media Training Programme.

Eina has a Masters in Applied Psychosynthesis. Eina is also a recipient of the Ray Murphy Leadership Fund (2010) for her innovative Women in Leadership initiative, Taking Yourself Seriously. An Irish Fulbright Scholar (2012-2013), she partnered with Lincoln Centre Education, the education wing of the Lincoln Centre for the Performing Arts in New York, on a professional research project, Encouraging the Seedbeds of Creativity. 

Eina’s keynote presentation will focus on her childhood experiences and emotional trauma caused by the years of conflict in Northern Ireland and her psychotherapeutic recovery process. Eina described this therapeutic journey in her book: To Call Myself Beloved. To Call Myself Beloved offers a window into the intimacy and power of the therapeutic experience, told from a patient’s perspective, as well as a thought-provoking insight into the trauma of the 'Troubles’ in Northern Ireland.


Meet our keynote speakers: Salma Yaqoob, Dr. Gavin Schaffer, Dr. Saima Nasar and Maureen Slattery Marsh

Voices conference speakersAfter incidents of terrorism in Britain (such as IRA Campaigns, and the 7/7 attacks), and even as a result of terrorism in other countries (such as the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington), British minority communities en-masse have been identified as targets of blame. After the Birmingham pub bombings of 1974, for example, there was widespread anti-Irish violence and ‘Prevention of Terrorism’ legislation was passed, enabling people of Irish heritage resident in Britain to be arrested and held without charge if suspected of involvement with terrorism. In this atmosphere the sociologist Paddy Hillyard coined the term ‘Suspect Community’ to explain collective blame and its impact. Addressing two cases studies, this session reflects on the mental health impacts of this kind of blaming on individuals and communities. These case studies consider (a.) Irish communities in Britain after IRA terrorism in London and Birmingham in 1974 and (b.) British Muslim communities after 9/11 and 7/7.

The session blends the analysis of therapists (Maureen Slattery Marsh and Salma Yaqoob) who have experience of working with these communities, and historians (Gavin Schaffer and Saima Nasar) who have researched the impacts of terrorism on people and places. Traumatic transformation occurring within these communities following the direct or indirect impact of terrorism has led to forms of community miasma and patterns of transgenerational transmission of trauma. Our analysis holds that members of minority communities have often been ‘silenced’ as a result of collective blaming and shaming, hampered at a personal and community level from celebrating ethnicity and participating in British life, culture and politics. We argue, moreover, that drawing such communities into local history making, memorialisation activities, and culturally informed therapy can begin to break down barriers, unravel feelings of guilt, suspicion, and estrangement opening up new pathways for intergenerational community trauma to be addressed.

While visiting Belfast

Besides attending the conference, we want everyone who visits Belfast to experience something of the city and local culture. Conference organisers are working to identify a number of cultural activities for you to explore during your visit. Details will be provided as the conference approaches.



Anyone wishing to book a room at the conference venue, the Europa Hotel, can call the reservation team on 02890271066 (from the US dial 011 then 44 for the UK) or email res@eur.hastingshotels.com and quote booking ID 133868.


We’re pleased to confirm that you can sign up to view selected content from the conference via live online webcast. The webcast will include a selection of presentations on a variety of themes, including the keynote presentations. The webcast programme will be confirmed soon.

The webcast will include the opportunity to discuss the presentations online via our chat facility. You'll also be able to submit questions directly to our presenters in our dedicated webcast studio. Bookings also include a two month on-demand catch up service so you can catch up on anything you miss.

Bookings for the webcast can be made on the BACP website.

Find out more and register for the webcast here


    Join Now