CPSE chair coauthors book discussing inclusion of cultural factors in psychotherapy and cultural considerations relevant to mental health.

Timothy Smith, chair of the Department of Counseling Psychology and Special Education at BYU’s McKay School of Education, coauthored a new book titled Foundations of Multicultural Psychology: Research to Inform Effective Practice, which was published by the American Psychological Association.

Smith’s coauthor is Joseph E. Trimble, PhD, a professor at Western Washington University.

In their book, Smith and Trimble discuss research that confirms racial inequities in mental health treatment and explain how this relates to psychotherapy and effective multicultural practice of psychology. Smith discussed how an effective practice is one that accounts for cultural conditions and circumstances that include things like language.

“Is the therapy offered in the preferred language of the client?” said Smith. “The language of the heart and your emotions is still your native language. To be able to communicate in deep emotional issues, [therapy] should be conducted in their native language.”

Smith continued to say that millions of Americans suffer from mental illness each year. Many seek therapy, but race still influences who receives treatment.

The book combines cultural and racial factors in mental health treatments. From their research of summarized data from over 300,000 individuals, Smith and Trimble discovered different racial inequalities.

“Access to mental health treatment is a major public health issue,” said Smith. “Conditions such as depression and anxiety have been increasing in recent decades. Making mental health treatments more accessible for all populations will benefit society through associated decreases in suicide, substance abuse, and physical illness.”

Ethnic minorities underutilize opportunities for treatment and psychotherapy because racial issues and experiences impact the effectiveness of psychotherapy for them.

The book summarizes data confirming that experiences of racism reported by minorities in the United States are associated with decreased levels of emotional well-being. Ethnic minorities whose therapists explicitly account for cultural considerations achieve greater mental health benefits than those who attend traditional therapy that does not consider their cultural background.

“As much as we would like to think otherwise, race still matters in terms of psychological health,” said Smith, “but when we openly address racial and cultural issues, the data confirm more effective outcomes in therapy.”

Public health policies can do better to promote access to mental health services among all people in need of those services. This book further discusses inclusion of cultural factors in psychotherapy.

Writer: Joann Distler

Contact: Cynthia Glad (801) 422-1922