A recent study in the Journal of Black Psychology highlights the continued need for cultural competency. Chu and colleagues (2016) define cultural competency as the clinician: having cultural awareness of how their own values and beliefs impact their perceptions of the client, having knowledge of the clients background and worldview, and having the skills to provide treatment in a culturally sensitive manner. According to the authors, David Goode-Cross, Ph.D. and Karen Grim, Ph.D. (2016), Black therapists reported that they occasionally feel that their formal training on working with Black clients appeared limited. The study reports that decades of research have noted challenges therapists experience when working with Black clients such as over-identification with the client, judgment or rejection by the client, and the clients’ reactions to perceived differences based on socioeconomic status (Goode-Cross & Grim, 2016). Although the study specifically discusses Black therapist, those who are non-Black may also have significant challenges connecting with clients who are not of the same ethnic group.
Given the diversity of the United States, it is paramount that clinicians have training in cultural competency to improve their treatment with their clients. Numerous studies have demonstrated that when a clinician is culturally sensitive, clients have greater benefits and treatment efficacy is enhanced. Furthermore, many mental health professions including the American Psychological Association have ethical guidelines that require clinicians to have training and skills in diversity and cultural competency.
Common themes when working with African American clients:
Portions of this blog were previously published on Psychology Today by Dr. Erlanger Turner, Ph.D.
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Dr. Turner is a licensed psychologist with expertise in behavioral pediatrics, child mental health, disruptive behavior disorders, and minority mental health. He is also certified as a National Register Health Service Psychologist.