Editor’s Note: In our last post about multicultural competency, we explored the pitfalls that currently detract from our ability to deliver culturally salient, non-ethnocentric psychological services to clients, and how overcoming these pitfalls to provide such services can improve mental health in a broader sense.
Evidence has shown that our current forms of mental health treatment have been especially inadequate for ethnic minority populations, and finding interventions that are culturally competent has been an enduring significant challenge in the psychotherapy community. Nearly four decades ago, S. Sue and McKinney (1975) found that ethnic minorities tended to underutilize mental health services, compared to white individuals.
Behavioral activation (BA) is a treatment modality that helps clients modify their behavior with the ultimate goal of using a values-based approach to overcome depression by placing the client in a more comprehensive context than just the triggering event. Depressive symptoms, for example, while brought on by a life-changing incident such as job loss, are looked at within the larger context of the client’s environment, community, and life history.
You can spend years in graduate school, internship, and clinical practice. You can learn to skillfully conceptualize cases and structure interventions for your clients. You can have every skill and advantage as a therapist, but if you want to make the most of every session, both you and your client need to show up in the therapy room. Really show up. And this kind of mindful presence can be a lot harder than it sounds.
The evolution of treatment for obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) began with traditional strategies for managing mental illness; before the practice of psychotherapy was really developed, disorders like OCD were viewed as spiritual or moral issues, with the problem being the thoughts themselves, rather than the sufferer’s relationship to them. Then, following the emergence of the psychoanalytic model, talk therapy became the new standard of treatment for coping with obsessions and compulsions: in it, they were treated as symbolic manifestations of subconscious problems.