Help For Therapists: Working with Diversity
Clinical interventions, especially strongly evidence-based interventions, impact clients via new skills and practices in mind-body clinical realities. No matter how good (or “good enough” ) a clinical intervention is it requires a highly positive, active therapeutic relationship. As ample research suggests, a strong and positive therapeutic relationship in therapy enhances client trust and courage – thus expanding their experimenting with new ways of being, thinking, and doing. A huge problem is establishing such a therapeutic relationship is the inability of some therapist to bond with diverse people – people not exactly like the therapist. Below I will present information from clinical and social psychology about
what general variables/differences to be most mindful about. This information will be noted in three categories: Universals; Group Differences; and, Individual Self-Development (within groups). If therapists practice paying more attention to some of these basic realities in their clients, the expectation is that their therapeutic relationship/alliance will improve along with their clinical outcomes.
UNIVERSALS: Here is the listing – Similar Life Experiences/History, Biological Similarities, Social Similarities, Psychological Similarities, Emotional Similarities, Self-Awareness Valences, Use of Symbols, Use of Art, Compassion and Aggression, Love and Hate, and, Differences in the Above. Noticing, being mindful of, and using these realities in therapy should improve alliance and clinical outcomes.
GROUP DIFFERENCES AND SIMILARITIES: Here is the listing – Gender, SES, Age, Geography, Race, Ethnicity, Culture, Abilities, Disabilities, Religion, Marital Realities, Sexual Orientation, Urban/Rural, Education, Environmental Exposure (good/bad), etc. Again, therapists who are highly mindful of these realities will do their best to integrate them into their work with clients. Good work here will improve the alliance and clinical outcomes.
INDIVIDUAL SELF-DEVELOPMENT: Here is the list – Genetic Transfer, Modeling Transfer, Familial Transfer, and All Non-Shared Experiences in Life. Therapist who make it a norm to differentiate carefully between individuals in therapy – and who actively use these differences in their work – will most likely experience stronger emotional ties/alliances and better clinical outcomes.
If you have not been fully conscious of using such differences and similarities in working with your clients, you may want to select a few variables and begin. Begin NOW!
For more information refer to Pomerantz, A. M. (2017). Clinical Psychology: Science, Practice, and Culture. Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publications, pp. 69-93. See also the DSM-V emphasis on culture and diversity in treatment.
Anthony R. Quintiliani, PhD., LADC
Author of Mindful Happiness
New Edition of Mindful Happiness in Production…Coming soon!