Considering the data of minority patientsâ€™ issues with therapists, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of The American Psychiatric Association has taken into consideration the need for making therapies more inclusive of minorities, and has given the following recommendations:
There is a huge need for therapists to become aware of their views, beliefs, stereotypes, biases, and values since they often come up unconsciously and hinder effective treatment. By becoming aware of their belief system they can eliminate them and become more open-minded listeners. Hence, they will not be uncomfortable while discussing racial and cultural issues with their clients.
A lot of research has gone into how has experience of minority patients has been with therapists belonging to a different ethnic group. It is concerning that people who are the most vulnerable to developing mental health issues are not being provided with adequate care and therapy.
Following are the concerns raised by the minority patients about psychotherapists:
Minority populations are at a greater risk of developing mental health issues due to racism faced by them at a lot of levels. Not only this, there is a difference in average life span and death rates in the minority population as compared to the national data.
This alarming data can be attributed to inadequate access to health care and the quality of services provided to them by the government and institutes.
It is often seen that, the therapists consciously avoid talking about racial and cultural issues, and are not sensitive enough to the problems presented. As a result, a lot of minorities have complained about feeling invalidated, unaccepted, and misunderstood.
Therapists too are susceptible to pre-form biases and stereotypes of the minorities which might reflect in their therapy sessions. This again makes the client uncomfortable and they are not able to express themselves more openly. Hence instead of solving the problem, it would aggravate it more.
Psychological problems and distress are often influenced by cultural roots, beliefs, and teachings. Hence diagnosis and treatment of this type of psychological distress often required the therapist to be aware and sensitive to the minority cultures. But due to a lack of ethnocentric psychology, minoritiesâ€™ issues are often not addressed properly. As a result, minorities are more likely to attend fewer therapy sessions and withdraw from the sessions earlier when compared to non-minority patients.
Thus, the concept of mental health practice being universal is an old one and needs to be thoroughly evaluated.
It is also necessary that therapists are aware of the views of the world through the lenses of their minority clients. As mentioned earlier, culture plays an important role in facing a personâ€™s internal believes and physiological emotions, and how they respond to situations. It would be helpful for the therapist to understand the ethnic background of the client, and thus, understand the clientâ€™s belief system, values, and life experience. This would immensely help in taking the therapy sessions to go in the right direction,hence,result in ineffective treatment.
Additional Requirements In Therapy For Minorities:
In addition to the above-mentioned recommendation, there is also a need for the therapists to be open-minded about trying different treatment approaches. Since psychology and mental health therapeutics have been understood from a western point of view they often lack a broader perspective and might not work with minority clients. Hence it is often required to go beyond traditional ways of treatment and discover newer options that would be client-centric. For this, therapists need to constantly update themselves with studies on minorities. They need to be more culturally aware. Not only this but also further studies on minoritiesâ€™ psychology need to be conducted.
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