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Counseling African Americans






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Who is African American?. Historically
Counseling African Americans

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1. Counseling African Americans Mandy Cleveland, M.A.

2. Who is African American? Historically ? Term was used to describe people of African descent who were born in the United States and who may have experienced or inherited a history of slavery and oppression. Modern ? Modern definitions also include those who have immigrated to the United States and who choose the term ?African American? because it best fits their group identity E.g. people of color from Africa, the West Indies, the Caribbean, and South America

3. African American vs Black These terms have been used interchangeably in the literature However, each term may hold a different meaning for individual clients Important to understand how clients self identify Younger people often choose African American while the older prefer the term Black Preference for the term Black is strongest among the college educated, affluent, rural areas, and the South (Emonson, 1993)

4. Questions AA clients may have about Counselors Understand that Black individuals and families are distinct from other individuals and families? Understand that racism, classism, sexism, and other sources of discrimination are real issues for Black clients and not a sign that they're "too sensitive" or paranoid? Treat me as an individual deserving respect and at the same time avoid being biased or paternalistic or having a personal agenda?? Know something about Black cultural expressions: values, music, styles of speech, dress, mannerisms, and popular and classic music and literature? See me as deviant simply because I'm different from him or her?

5. Relevant Factors Historical oppression and racism Present socio-economic status Physical and mental health concerns Family structure Values Religion Understanding Black Identity Development

6. Historical Oppression and Racism 10 million Africans, brought as slaves into the Americas from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries In the Southern U.S., the economy was virtually destroyed due to the war, freeing of the slaves, and Reconstruction

7. Historical Oppression and Racism Northern cities like New York and Philadelphia designated certain areas of the city where African Americans could live, and certain jobs where they could work The struggle to achieve basic civil rights and criminalize outright discrimination didn?t take place until the 1960s

8. Historical Oppression and Racism Had to fight for voter registration, equal opportunities for education, equal access to common public facilities like bathrooms and lunch counters, and most famously, the right to sit at the front of a public transportation bus Federal government eventually provided increased enforcement of desegregation, and punished some wrongdoers for discrimination

9. Present Status 36.6 million Roughly 13% percent of the U.S. population Almost 2/3rds of the AA population is in the lower socio-economic class today. 10.3 percent of White families with children under 18 are below the poverty level compared to 24.9 percent of Black families with children under 18.

10. Present Status In 2001, the overall rate of unemployment for all Americans was 5.8 percent but the unemployment rate for African Americans was 10.2 percent AA men have the lowest participation in the work force compared to men in other racial groups

11. Educational Equity? In 2000, 12 percent of Black males attained a BA compared to 20 percent of White males Similarly, 11 percent of Black females attained a BA compared to 18 percent of White females

12. Structural Discrimination Companies choosing to build factories away from urban areas with large AA populations Cities choosing to build public transit systems that provide easy access to inner city jobs from the suburbs, but not from inner city to central city jobs or from inner city to suburban jobs Funding education through local property tax revenues, when AA inner-city communities have a higher proportion of depressed property values

13. Middle class and Upper class This segment of the population often has a distinct set of experiences from other African Americans They are often better educated, have more financial security, and more work opportunities What message does this convey? They may also endure bicultural stress and receive negative feelings from both African Americans and Whites Why?

14. Mental Health Statistics African Americans rarely use private therapists, but more often may use community mental health centers (overrepresented) An APA task force found that large numbers of disadvantaged and minority citizens lacked access to adequate health care (mental health) African Americans are significantly more likely to terminate counseling prematurely Ethnic match between therapist and client proved to have a greater impact on the number of sessions attended than did treatment outcomes Does it matter though? What does the class think?

15. Mental Health According to NIMH Study the rates of depressive disorders and substance abuse for African Americans were very similar to Whites The incidence of schizophrenia is slightly higher for African Americans (could be related to SES)

16. Mental Health Cont. Mental health problems may not be equally addressed MH professionals may misinterpret behavior as being normative for African Americans when it is really a symptom of mental illness (D.O. Lewis, Balla, & Shanok, 1979). Black patients are often given more severe diagnoses than Whites, regardless of the race of the psychiatrist (Loring & Powell, 1988) ?When I see the statistics [about high levels of mental illness among African Americans], I try not to buy into the hype. . . I think a lot of this stuff is hyped up to keep the African American people down. Now, we?re starting to see [information about high levels of mental illness] about the Hispanic people. They?re putting them down more. . . I think it can be a way to put down ethnic groups.? (Nowlen, 2002)?When I see the statistics [about high levels of mental illness among African Americans], I try not to buy into the hype. . . I think a lot of this stuff is hyped up to keep the African American people down. Now, we?re starting to see [information about high levels of mental illness] about the Hispanic people. They?re putting them down more. . . I think it can be a way to put down ethnic groups.? (Nowlen, 2002)

17. Family Structure Households with married couples with children comprised less than half of the households among African Americans. (Census, 2000) 78% of single parent families were headed by females. (Census, 2000) AA single mothers are the least likely to be divorced (17%), most likely to never be married (65%), and more likely than Whites to live within an extended family situation (e.g. with grandparents) (18%) How do these statistics fit into societal norms?

18. Family Structure Cont. Among single AA mothers 23% live with related family 4% live with unrelated, or augmented, family. (Census, 2000) Many negative claims have been made concerning the influence of AA family structure on social, psychological, and economic well-being

19. Family Structure Cont. For example, the AA family headed by a female is frequently characterized as inferior and blamed for many of the problems in the African American community Positive aspects of AA family structure are often overlooked Because a majority of psychologists and researchers are oriented to the European traditional family concept (e.g. father, mother, married with children) they may interpret non-traditional family structures as automatically inferior. But, the non-traditional family structure may provide supportive relationships that benefit children and other family members as well. (Wilkinson, 1993) ?If I had trouble and I couldn?t turn to my parents, I?d go to my Grandmother. She has always been very caring and supportive in my life. My sister and I have bedrooms at her house.? Nowlen also mentioned her experience with augmented family. ?In the Black community you get a lot of play cousins, and play Aunts. And all of the ladies who were hanging out with my mother were my Aunties. It?s like adoption. In the Black community the main focus is on the family. If you don?t have anything else, then you always have family.? (Nowlen, 2002)Because a majority of psychologists and researchers are oriented to the European traditional family concept (e.g. father, mother, married with children) they may interpret non-traditional family structures as automatically inferior. But, the non-traditional family structure may provide supportive relationships that benefit children and other family members as well. (Wilkinson, 1993) ?If I had trouble and I couldn?t turn to my parents, I?d go to my Grandmother. She has always been very caring and supportive in my life. My sister and I have bedrooms at her house.? Nowlen also mentioned her experience with augmented family. ?In the Black community you get a lot of play cousins, and play Aunts. And all of the ladies who were hanging out with my mother were my Aunties. It?s like adoption. In the Black community the main focus is on the family. If you don?t have anything else, then you always have family.? (Nowlen, 2002)

20. Values According to McCollum (1997) African Americans as a group tend to value strong kinship bonds, are work and education oriented, have strong dedication to religious values and church participation, and tend to be more group oriented, rather than individualistic These values are in many ways similar to West African heritage which values elements like family structure, notions of kinship, and religious concepts and practices. (Hine, Hine, & Harrold, 2000)

21. Religion The religious customs of African Americans have helped them to survive slavery, deal with racism, oppression, economic hardship, and many other forces that demoralized and exploited their people. Indigenous religions of the slaves continued long after they left Africa These religions underscored: the unity of the natural and the supernatural, the secular and the sacred, and the living and the dead

22. Religion Conversion to Christianity shaped AA culture The sharing of religious beliefs and practices created multiracial congregations, and a common ground of spiritual equality AA worshipers also influenced the practice of Christianity through the development of elements like gospel music and a vibrant worship style

23. Religion Although many slave owners tried to use Christian beliefs to control and justify their treatment of Blacks, the freedom to worship together as a congregation reinforced African Americans collective identity and helped them to persevere through hard times.

24. Black Identity Development Dr. William E. Cross Jr. (1971) developed an African American identity development model that traces the individual?s ?group? or racial identity growth. One of the first racial identity models The Cross Model The basis of this model is that self-perception is based on racial factors, especially for African Americans, because society has determined that race is a salient characteristic.

25. Cross Model Stages: Pre-encounter, encounter, immersion-emersion, internalization, and internalization-commitment.

26. Cross Model Pre-encounter ? Unaware of one?s own racial or cultural identity. Person is unconscious of negative stereotypes against African Americans Consciously or unconsciously devalue their own Blackness and concurrently value White values and ways. Pressure to assimilate and acculturate into White society

27. Cross Model Encounter ? A specific event or experience happens that causes a person to feel the need for change by becoming aware of her/his own racial identity

28. Cross Model Immersion-emersion - Individuals seek to immerse themselves in their ethnic culture through active exploration of cultural identity.? Ethnic culture becomes a positive, beautiful worldview, and the majority culture may be seen as negative or flawed. Feelings of guilt and anger seem to dissipate with a rise in pride

29. Cross Model Internalization Stage - Identity is solidified, and the individual may have?a deep and integrated sense of their racial/ethnic identity.? The individual is more at ease with their own standard of cultural identity.? Internalization-commitment Stage - The individual has a long-term commitment and involvement in their own cultural identity.? Commitment to community/people of similar cultural heritage Anti-White feelings subside as the person becomes more flexible, more tolerant, and more bicultural/multicultural

30. Modifications This model was later expanded to include all people of color Minority Identity Theory Model This model included the stages of: 1. Conformity 2. Dissonance 3. Resistance 4. Introspection 5. Integrative Awareness

31. Racial/Cultural Identity Development Model Conformity - Individuals accept the values of the majority culture.? Ethnic individuals in this culture may value White role models, White standards of beauty and success, and may even believe it is better to be white.? There may be underlying negative emotions toward self.

32. Racial/Cultural Identity Development Model Dissonance Stage - Individuals begin to acknowledge the personal impact of racism.? An event, or trigger, causes the individual to examine and question their own set of beliefs.? Confusion and conflict toward dominant cultural system emerges

33. Racial/Cultural Identity Development Model Resistance ? Active rejection of the dominant culture and active involvement in one?s own culture Introspection ? Starts to question the values of both his/her minority group and the dominant group Integrative Awareness ? Person develops cultural identity based on both minority and dominant cultural values

34. Guidelines for clinical practice Client?s reactions- ?Sometimes clients feel uncomfortable working with a counselor of a different race; would this be a problem for you?? Examine clients worldviews and believes about counseling Egalitarian relationship (self disclosure). Talk about non-counseling topics if client is hostile or aloof.

35. Guidelines for clinical practice Reaction to racial oppression- How much does racism play a role in client problem? How client responded to discrimination Positive assets of client (e.g. family, church, etc.) Help client define goals Degree of adoption to majority culture values Personal experience of the individual


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