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Counseling African-American Population

Encapsulation within the framework of a dominant culture leads to the fixation of models of communication and behavior that are common for a given culture, values and ways of understanding what is happening outside and inside an individual and a group. The counselor should understand this fact and avoid cultural universalization in the counseling process. At the same time, the study of cross-cultural perspectives of counseling and psychotherapeutic interaction helps specialists be more successful and accurate at different stages of their work. It helps in building relations with the client and in understanding the problems that cause disturbances in the client’s life (Monk et al., 2019). It will help minimize cultural errors and biases of understanding the client.

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In particular, some members of the African American population believe that consultants will never sufficiently grasp the psychology of African Americans, because they do not possess the unique cultural heritage of Africans. In particular, empirical studies show that one of the characteristics of the African American population is the tendency to avoid psychotherapy (Fallenbaum, 2018). Moreover, a multicultural assessment of problematic behavior for people of African descent should not be limited to fixing of mental and emotional distortions or to observations of atypical external behavior (Fallenbaum, 2018). A competent multicultural observance and assessment should imply consideration of psychosocial and environmental conditions of the client. It is important, as in these conditions, the observed behavior can be characterized as quite normative and rational response. Behavioral impairments of African-American people are not always the consequence of any intrapsychological deficits. Rather, such impairments can represent the result of ecosystem’ impact, because of social prejudices, institutional latent racism, and economic disparities. Meanwhile, due to such ecosystems of their immediate environment, African Americans often suffer from depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and so on, and are in need of treatment. At the same time, among this population, there are negative attitudes towards those who obtain counseling services.

The counselor should be cautioned that failure will be the result of both over-emphasizing cultural differences and over-focusing on cultural similarities; success is on the path of simultaneously considering both perspectives. At the same time, underestimation of the specificity of culture, an attempt to focus only on “universal” laws in counseling African Americans leads to a “new type of racism” (Fallenbaum, 2018). A targeted work is needed to actualize the problems of ethnocultural understanding in the minds and activities of specialists, to find ways to accurately comprehend the experience of people specific to each culture. Thus, an optimal approach should be aimed at overcoming cultural limitations, being associated with the use of the developing potential of cross-cultural contacts.


Fallenbaum, R. (2018). African American patients in psychotherapy: Understanding the psychological effects of racism and oppression. Routledge.

Monk, G., Winslade, J., & Sinclair, S. (2019). Intercultural counseling: Bridging the us and them divide. Cognella Academic Publishing.

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