Brand New Book Release

Publication date - 16th September 2022

Book launch date - 8 October 2022

Only online attendance available now for registration at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-burden-of-heritage-aileen-alleyne-in-conversation-with-eugene-ellis-tickets-379567575837

The Burden of Heritage: Hauntings of Generational Trauma on Black Lives is a timely addition to the literature on inter- and transgenerational trauma. The book addresses black ancestral trauma passed down the generations, highlighting the ongoing impact on black lives. The text explores unheeded dimensions of individual and collective identity trauma, paying particular attention to the themes and concepts of identity shame, black identity wounding and cultural enmeshment. The author expands on her striking concept, the Internal Oppressor, that inhibits self-belief, full agency and potential. She reworks the psychoanalytic concept of ‘hauntings’, separating it from Freud’s interpretation of it as unconscious repression, to revision it as an alive and conscious element of the black trauma burden. The book’s salient message for breaking the cycle of generational trauma suggests an active process of separation from archaic attachments and engagement in active, intentional modes of transformation.

The author richly gifts herself in this text, making use of her own experiences throughout, alongside therapeutic suggestions, approaches and theoretical handles for steadying the practitioner in the consulting room. There is a continuous weaving and knitting of the personal, historical, socio-political and theoretical, amidst the countless observational examples, clinical vignettes and case material presented. The book offers effective tools to practitioners who work therapeutically with black and minority ethnic clients, and highlights ways to strengthen critical enquiry for deeper conceptual and theoretical understanding of generational trauma.


The following papers and book chapters are informed by Dr Aileen Alleyne’s clinical research and her wide-ranging interest in identity, race and culture.

Black identity and workplace oppression

Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, July 2004, Vol. 4, No 1: 4-8

This paper is primarily aimed at counselling and psychotherapy practitioners whose clients experience workplace conflict and its resulting stress and trauma. The paper reports findings from the author’s doctoral research, studying black workers in three work contexts.

Race-specific workplace stress

Counselling and Psychotherapy Journal, October 2004, Vol. 15, No 8: 30-33

This paper examines common experiences of work-related stress affecting black people in predominantly white institutions. The paper addresses less visible kinds of discrimination (‘modern racism’) and other dynamics of positional power within these settings.

The internal oppressor and black identity wounding

Counselling and Psychotherapy Journal, December 2004, Vol. 15, No 10: 48-50

In this paper, the author puts forward the concept of ‘the internal oppressor’. This is a deep-seated, long-established aspect of black identity which operates alongside current experiences of racial oppression. It is to be distinguished from internalised oppression and can be viewed as the enemy within or internal adversary.

Black and White Issues in Training Groups: A Psychodynamic Approach

T. Mistry and A. Brown (eds) Race and Groupwork, pp 204-226, Whiting and Birch Ltd, 1977.

This chapter develops a psychodynamic model of training on race issues as part of an Equal Opportunities and anti-discriminatory practices framework.

Which Women? What Feminism?

B. Seu and C. Heenan (eds), Feminism and Psychotherapy: Reflections on Contemporary Theories and Practices, pp. 43-56. Sage, 1998.

This chapter considers the question of ‘the other’ and addresses the experiences of black women within the context of a feminist psychotherapeutic discourse.

The Internal Oppressor - the veiled companion of external racial oppression

UKCP The Psychotherapist, Issue 26, Spring 2005

This paper reworks the theme of the internal oppressor and workplace oppression.

Invisible injuries and silent witnesses: The shadow of racial oppression in workplace contexts

Psychodynamic Practice – Individuals, groups and organisations. August 2005, Vol. 11, No. 3: 283-299

In this paper, the author suggests that internalized oppression is the primary means by which all of us hold unto and re-enact our unresolved difficulties. She examines this concept with specific regard to black people’s experience of racial oppression in workplace contexts and their capcity for resilience in these difficult and often traumatic circumstances.

Working with clients who are experiencing harassment in the workplace

BACP Information Sheet (G10), July 2006

An information sheet written for the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and specifically devised for practitioners who are working with clients who are suffering harassment in the workplace. The paper offers a theoretical understanding of the nature of harassment and gives guidance on working with the effects of this particular kind of trauma.

Working therapeutically with hidden dimensions of racism

Chapter 12 – Working therapeutically with hidden dimensions of racism – Aileen Alleyne. In Fernando & Keating (Eds)/Mental Health in a Multi-Ethnic Society: A Multidisciplinary Handbook:2nd Edition (2009). Pub: Routledge.

© Aileen Alleyne. Published 2009 by Routledge.

Overcoming Racism, Discrimination and Oppression in Psychotherapy

Chapter 10 – Overcoming Racism, Discrimination and Oppression in Psychotherapy – Aileen Alleyne. In Colin Lago (2011) The Handbook of Transcultural Counselling & Psychotherapy. Pub: McGraw-Hill, Open University Press.

Shame and Its Vicissitudes

To cite this article: Aileen Alleyne (2022): Shame and Its Vicissitudes, Psychoanalytic Inquiry, DOI: 10.1080/07351690.2022.2080431. To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/07351690.2022.2080431

In this article, I address the theme of shame and its impact on Black identity wounding. In particular, I focus in on what has often been left out of the shame discourse: a consideration of shame that emerges in Black and White relational dynamics. As such, I specifically address the historical and generational underpinnings that play a significant role in Black shame and White responses to shame, as well as the possibilities of healing shame in these contexts. To further clarify these dynamics, I offer some personal reflections on significant elements of my own childhood shame. These experiences illustrate the profound impact racialized shame can have on racial identity formation and development. I identify key therapeutic issues and themes that need to be addressed in the clinical context as well as some key challenges that can arise for White practitioners working with their own unacknowledged shame in such an intercultural analytic setting. I conclude with my reasoning for why I consider sublimation as the single most important concept in understanding the work of healing and managing shame. I end the chapter with an illustration of how the power of spontaneous expression – poetry offered as an example – can redirect negative energies and the impact of racialized shame.

Understanding racial hauntings in Therapy Today, October 2022


The subject of this article, and of the book from which it is extracted, is an unheeded dimension of trauma that is, paradoxically, omnipresent. It is everywhere in our midst but, like a virus, is unseen yet impactful. I have coined this as ‘racial hauntings’, advancing and offering a new perspective on the Freudian analytical concept of ‘hauntings’ explored by Professor Stephen Frosh in relation to victims of the Holocaust. My aim is to reveal its presence and to shine a light on its complex workings, offering an in-depth understanding of a historical phenomenon that produces deep psychological wounding to a collective of people.

© This article was first published in Therapy Today, the journal of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)

Contact Info

Phone: 07985 445972

Email: aileen@kisskadee.com