Are African American therapists better suited to serve African American clients? Some professionals do agree that when therapists and clients share racial and cultural attributes that both people in the relationship benefit. Some people may be more comfortable with a therapist who is the same racially and culturally. Some African American scholars hold the strong opinion that African Americans should not see European American therapists. One of the reasons for this argument is the view that mental health issues among African Americans are rooted in issues with identity as a result of being mentally and physically cut off from African identities. The argument is also put forward that other therapists may misdiagnose African Americans because of not understanding African American perspectives. The root of this argument is based in the fact that a small percentage of therapists in America are African American, which means other therapists must learn about and experience other cultures to increase understanding them.
An Afrocentric approach differs from European approaches, in that high value is not placed on individualism. Individualism is a cultural perspective that is not in tune with African cultural views. There are several other cultural differences that exist. Focusing on cultural differences is the not the purpose this article these points are raised just to acknowledge that they do exist and must be accounted for. The fields of social and multicultural psychology have demonstrated the need for variation in cultural perspectives in the mental health field. These fields are producing studies that demonstrate the problems related to mental health theories, and therapies that are rooted in European American culture.
It is currently impractical for African Americans to seek only African American therapists because there is not enough African American therapists in America for this to be a reality. One valid solution is to educate therapists, and African American therapy clients about the cultural differences inherent in mainstream therapy models. This information will help African American therapy clients understand how to effectively choose a therapist that would be beneficial for them. For example, understanding that a European American therapist who puts pressure on an African American client to adopt European American cultural concepts is not going to be a good therapist for him or her. This allows to person to know that the problem is not her or his self but a lack of cultural understanding on the behalf of the therapist. This also would ensure that therapists develop cultural understanding when treating people from cultures other than their own.
Licklider, D. (1990, October 10). THE COLOR OF THERAPY IS ‘AFROCENTRIC’ TREATMENT THE RIGHT ANSWER FOR BLACK PATIENTS?. Philadelphia Daily News