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