The purpose of family therapy is to equip families with the tools needed to overcome difficulties with interpersonal relationships. The many issues the African-American culture face are more unstable and aggressive than those of other cultures. Therefore, without acquiring the skills needed; for instance, effective communication skills and problem-solving techniques, most African-American relationships normally end in divorce. According to a recent article published by Divorce360, 32% of African American couples ends in divorce (Moore, 2013). The reason the divorce rate is high is because most African Americans do not seek the therapeutic help they need to resolve problems within their relationship. The reason most African American do not seek outside help is because they are raised to believe outside help is not needed, or they have limited access to care, unable to pay for services, distrust of mental health professionals, or the anxiety associated with counseling. This paper will address, what led to the lack of trust and understanding involved in psychotherapy and why most African-American people do not seek therapeutic help The first premise of why African Americans do not seek therapeutic help is because they are raised to believe outside help is not needed. Reason being, the African-American population do not trust the medical or mental health community. African Americans are extremely careful about seeking help for mental health. Generally, because when mental health services were obtained in the past African Americans were given large amounts of medication, hospitalized rather than provided with outpatient treatment, and exposed to insensitive doctors or therapists who lacked the understanding of how treatment could benefit African Americans. For example, at the age of ten-years-old my mother had a nervous breakdown and was hospitalized for several months. When she was released the doctor gave her a medication to take three times a day. The medication was so strong all she did was sleep. However, there was nothing else ordered. Just like other possible clients, Black individuals have a fear that if they seek mental-health services they will be labeled “crazy” just like my mother was labeled. The reason African Americans are so hesitant to seek counseling services is because of an age-old saying, “What is said in this house stays in this house.” The second premise is African Americans have a greater distrust for the medical community, they believe medical organizations hold a racist approach to the way medical care is provided. Because of the “Tuskegee Syphilis Study” the African-American community has a greater distrusts of the health care system today. During the study, the government deceived African-American men to believe they were being treated for “bad blood” when actually; they were being used for medical experimentation (Gray, 1998). Since African Americans were held in such low social status they could neither consent nor refuse to participate in the study. The reluctance to seek help also goes back to slavery when they were abused by white doctors.
The third premise is because clinicians disregard or is unaware of ethical considerations related to family structure, they undervalue ethics and ethical guiding principles, distress the family and distinct family members, or impair the original problem that led them to therapy. Therapist must consider and reference the following questions pertaining to family sturcture: How does structure influence the family? How high does acculturation go in the family? Are there additional cultural considerations to address in the family? To achieve greater functionality what changes need to occur? Does African-American history play a role in blacks receiving care? After the clinician has analyzed and answered these cultural questions about family structure within the African-American population, he or she can begin therapeutic counseling. The...
References: Fraser, J. S., & Solovey, A. D. (2007). Second order change in psychotherapy. Arlington, VA: American Psychological Association.
Gladding, S. T. (2007). Family therapy history, theory, and practice. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.
Gray, F. D. (1998). The Tuskegee Syphilis. Retrieved from http://www.history.ucsb.edu
Moore, D. (2013). African Americans are less likely to marry and more likely to divorce, study show. Retrieved from http://www.divorce360.com
Vetere, A. (2001). Structural family therapy. Child & Adolescence Mental Health, 6(3), 134. doi:10441453
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