Hues of brown: A case study of the psychotherapeutic process exploring racial and cultural identity between a Black West Indian female client and an African American female therapist
This study interrogates the prevailing views of racial identity construction in the process of counseling. In the US, West Indian émigrés can often struggle to understand and adjust to the different ways in which race, class, and gender are constructed. Scholars have proposed in fact that West Indians often redefine themselves against the negative, racist perceptions of African Americans by emphasizing their own cultural/ethnic particularity, a strategic adjustment that can create tension between these culturally different but racially similar groups. In this critical qualitative research study, the investigator examined 12 consecutive therapy sessions that involved a Black West Indian female client and an African American female therapist. The investigator sought to answer the following questions: (a) How and when does the client talk about issues of race and culture and (b) How does the therapist respond? (c) How do the client and therapist explore and understand racial identity and cultural identity during the therapy process? and (d) What changes or adjustments over the course of therapy are evidenced in the client and therapist with regard to their respective racial and cultural identities? Findings of this study reveal patterns in the data related to (a) therapy process issues specific to fostering or threatening the working alliance; (b) content issues specific to the negotiation of mental health issues as relevant to racial, cultural and sociopolitical topics; and (c) shifts in therapist and client discourse over the course of the therapy. Implications for future research are discussed.
0519: School counseling
0622: Clinical psychology