Counseling African Americans in today’s SocietyChristopher Jackson Multicultural Counseling AbstractTohave a successful relationship means becoming knowledgeable of those with whomyou’re forming your relationship. Counseling at its most basic form is a relationship between a helpingprofessional and those who enter their practice. This relationship is an important factor inthe counseling practice as it lays the groundwork for what’s to come in thecounseling relationship. African Americans have been routinelydehumanized and subjected to hatred and biased attitudes. African American menin particular have been likened to animals, thought to be brainless and immoralbeings.
(Johnson, P. D., 2006). We as counselors are tasked with practicing acceptanceand becoming attentive in regard to learning and empathizing with our clients’lived experience (Baer, Smith, Hopkins, Krietemeyer, & Toney, 2006; Baer etal., 2008)Counseling African AmericansTohave a successful relationship means becoming knowledgeable of those with whomyou’re forming your relationship. Counseling at its most basic form is a relationship between a helpingprofessional and those who enter their practice. This relationship is an important factor inthe counseling practice as it lays the groundwork for what’s to come in the counselingrelationship.
The focus of this paper is to explore the experience of AfricanAmericans as a group of peopled and to identify a more effective method oftreatment for those Identifying with this cultural group. The United States isbecoming increasingly culturally diverse. We are seeing more people fromdifferent racial backgrounds we are seeing an increasing amount of people fromdifferent ethic and linguistic backgrounds as well. (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010).
Analysts predict that within the next 50 years this continual growth and changewill allow for the United states to evolve into a “pluralistic nation.”; anation where no one racial or ethnic group will be in the majority. (U.S.Census Bureau, 2012). As this inevitability comes closer to fruition it isimportant as counselors that we how to successfully care for and identify withour diverse clients.
Historical Treatment of AfricanAmericansSincearriving in the United States, the humanity of African American people has, forthe most part, been largely ignored. African Americans have been routinely dehumanized and subjected tohatred and biased attitudes. African American men in particular have beenlikened to animals, thought to be brainless and immoral beings. (Johnson, P. D.,2006). Historically, and at times currently, African American people continueto be subjected to this treatment.
Alltoo often African American men and women are portrayed as criminals, drugaddicts, sexual predators and other unfair stereotypes. (Friedman, 2001; Hoch,1979; Jordan, 1968). These labels have painted African American people in anunfavorable light and has resulted in countless acts of violence and fear asthese people are seen as unintelligent drug addicted, violent sexual predatorswho are less than and belong in prisons away from the rest of society. (Johnson,P. D., 2006). This Negative portrayal has, in part, has aneffect on how we as counselors view these people in our counseling practices aswell as how African Americans clients view counselors or those in power. For these reasons, it is important thatcounselors become competent in dealing with those different fromthemselves.
Implications for practice Takingthe negative historical and at times present treatment of African Americansinto mind we as a profession are tasked with finding an effective way to treatour diverse clients. It is the duty ofthe counselor to allow for our clients to feel at peace and find comfort whilein our care. The first thing we must doto be an effective counselor of African Americans is to be able to practice mindfulness.We as counselors are tasked with practicing acceptance and becoming attentive inregard to learning and empathizing with our clients’ lived experience. (Baer,Smith, Hopkins, Krietemeyer, & Toney, 2006; Baer et al.
, 2008). In fewerwords, we as counselors are tasked with obtaining competence in multiculturalissues. Research, past and present havestudied multicultural competencies in a multitude of ways and have foundevidence correlating this skill to looking to:”sex (Mindrup, Spray, & Lamberghini-West, 2011), racial identity attitudes(Chao, 2012; Constantine, 2002), racism attitudes (Constantine, 2002), culturalimmersion activities (McDowell, Goessling, & Melendez, 2012), feelings ofsocial inadequacy (Sodowsky, Kuo-Jackson, Richardson, & Corey, 1998), locusof control variables (Sodowsky et al., 1998), race/ethnicity (Constantine,2001b; Ivers, 2012; Sodowsky et al., 1998), emotional intelligence (Constantine& Gainor, 2001), empathy (Constantine, 2001a), bilingualism (Ivers, Ivers,& Duffey, 2013), and mortality salience (Ivers & Myers, 2011).” (Ivers, N.
N., Johnson, D. A., Clarke, P. B.,Newsome, D. W., & Berry, R.
A.,2016)Theability to connect to our African American clients in on or more of theseaspects will increase chances of success in our counseling relationships. These factors are universal across all peopleand while it is important to understand the historical cultural experience ofour clients, it is more important to gain an understanding of the client as aperson and determine the saliency of each of these in relation to that specificperson. References Arredondo,P., Toporek, M. S.
, Brown, S., Jones, J., Locke, D. C., Sanchez, J., , H.
(1996). Operationalization of the Multicultural CounselingCompetencies. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, 24, 42–78. Baer,R. A., Smith, G. T., Hopkins, J.
, Krietemeyer, J., & Toney, L. (2006).Using self-report assessment methods to explore facets of mindfulness.Assessment, 13, 27–45. Baer, R.
A., Smith, G. T., Lykins, E., Button,D, Krietemeyer, J., Saue, S.Williams, J. G.
(2008). Construct validity of theFive Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire in meditating and nonmeditating samples.Assessment, 15, 329–342. Colbert,L. K.
, Jefferson, J. L., Gallo, R., & Davis, R. (2009).
A Study ofReligiosity and PsychologicalWell-being Among African Americans: Implications for Counseling andPsychotherapeutic Processes. Journal Of Religion & Health, 48(3), 278-289.doi:10.1007/s10943-008-9195-9 Ivers,N. N.
, Johnson, D. A., Clarke, P. B., Newsome, D. W.
, & Berry, R. A.(2016). The Relationship Between Mindfulness and Multicultural Counseling Competence. JournalOf Counseling & Development, 94(1), 72-82.doi:10.1002/jcad.
12063 Johnson,P. D. (2006). Counseling African American Men: A Contextualized Humanistic Perspective. Counseling , 50(3), 187-196.
Utsey,S. O., Giesbrecht, N., Hook, J.
, & Stanard, P. M. (2008).
Cultural, sociofamilial,and psychological resources that inhibit psychological distress in African Americans exposed to stressful lifeevents and race-related stress. Journal OfCounseling Psychology, 55(1), 49-62. doi:10.1037/0022-022.214.171.124