Assessment and Treatment Issues Common to All Racial and Ethnic Minority Groups

When acculturation pressures are part of the problem, the therapist would do well to make the client aware that adjustment to U.S. culture is not a matter of choosing between the culture of origin and the majority culture; the individual can retain the former while mastering the latter. In other words, cultural incorporation is a viable option. Ethnic identity issues can be addressed similarly. In addition, a practitioner can administer acculturation and ethnic identity instruments to the client as part of the initial intake. The resulting information could help the practitioner tailor her or his approach to the client.

Chan and Leong (1994) offer a list of recommendations to treatment approaches with Chinese clients that are generalizable to all racial and ethnic minority groups because of shared cultural values. Their culture-based recommendations include the following: (a) use of a psychosocial rather than a psychological approach, precisely because of cultural issues likely to be present; (b) an autocratic leadership style from the therapist rather than a democratic one; people of racial/ethnic minority groups tend to have respect for teachers or any professionals they perceive as experts; (c) capitalizing on cultural values that will facilitate the therapeutic process; (d) acceptance of modes of treatment that the individual's culture offers, for example, "curanderismo" (folk healing) among Latinas/os; and (e) respect for the client's sometimes dependent demeanor with respect to the therapist: in traditional cultures, respect for authority is an important value.

Finally, all four of the major racial/ethnic minority groups value the extended family; therefore, therapists would do well to make use of group therapy. Having the input and commitment from family members would probably make for better, individual progress in therapy.

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