In A Multicultural Therapy Situation Therapists Are White And Clients Are Nonwhite Minorities

Currently, there is a plethora of articles and books written on multicultural psychology and many are written within a framework in which therapists (or therapists in training) are assumed to be White and clients are assumed to be non-White (e.g., Arroyo, 1996; Casas, 1987; Corvin & Wiggins, 1989; Helms, 1987; Ponterotto & Pedersen, 1993; Sue, 1993). Although it is accurate that the majority of therapists and graduate students in clinical and counseling programs are White, there is usually a respectable percentage of graduate students who belong to ethnic and racial minority groups who will eventually work in settings where they will likely have to provide services to clients whose ethnicities differ from their own (Russo, Olmedo, Stapp, & Fulcher, 1981). Given that many articles on multicultural psychology are written with the assumption that therapists are White and clients are ethnic minorities, this raises questions regarding the multicultural training non-White minority psychologists are receiving. For example, are African-American graduate students being adequately trained to provide psychological services to Spanish-speaking Hispanic clients? Likewise, are Asian Americans receiving training on how to work effectively with White low-SES clients? Being a minority or majority member in the United States does not ensure that the person is well versed on the White-American culture, on his or her own racial culture, or on the cultures of other ethnic minority groups (Hall, 1997).

In light of the complexity of culture, perhaps authors of multicultural textbooks should consider including a chapter on White Americans. At the very least, it is suggested here that it is time for authors writing on this topic to approach it without making assumptions about the ethnicity of either the therapist or the client except for their cultural dissimilarity. This would increase the pedagogical usefulness of much of the literature used in multicultural courses so that multiethnic students enrolled in such courses might view the material as having increased relevance to them as budding therapists in an increasingly multiethnic society.

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