Is psychotherapy failing people of colour?

Some clients from minority backgrounds often report seeking help from support services (including mental health services) that unfortunately echo the bias & unconscious prejudice of that society as a whole.

Over the past four years I have had numerous clients from different ethnic & cultural backgrounds contact me describing issues with support services in Ireland. Some of these issues include

  • The repeated denial of the client’s experience as a person of color in an Irish context.
  • Assumptions about women from other cultures.
  • Unintentional microaggressions emerging in the actual therapy sessions that made clients drop out.
  • Misunderstandings around the way certain clients expressed themselves.
  • The failure to understand individuals who come from a collectivist culture as opposed to an individualistic one and what this means for the concept of self, family etc.

All of this highlights the often western focused theory & research with respects to aspects to psychology & psychotherapy. It may also indicate a lack of training & experience in relation to some practitioners with respect to working with diversity & multicultural issues.

This affects many areas aside from ethnicity like gender, class, age, disability and other areas of difference. This article from the Guardian explores the issue from a UK psychotherapy perspective.

More information on this topic and our multicultural counselling service is available on the Talk Therapy Dublin website here

Acknowledging race in mental health services

The 21st March marked International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

The following article from the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland blog outlines how race & ethnicity is an area that poses a variety of challenges not only in terms of the mental health of ethnic minorities generally but also in terms of the provision of supports and differences in how that support is experienced.

Talk Therapy Dublin currently  has  40% of active clients born outside of Ireland and these clients often describe issues & experiences affected & augmented by almost constant minority stress.  

Sexuality & Gender are broadly discussed by the mainstream in Ireland and much has been done in terms of acknowledging minority stress in these areas but when it comes to ethnic minorities and their experience of Ireland in 2018 there is a long way to go. Our attitudes to and the experiences of our own indigenous ethnic minority, the travelling community is an example of this.