Counseling Persons of African Descent: Raising the Bar of Practitioner Competence (Multicultural Aspects of Counseling And Psychotherapy)

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9780803953468: Counseling Persons of African Descent: Raising the Bar of Practitioner Competence (Multicultural Aspects of Counseling And Psychotherapy)
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Though important strides have been made in the last three decades in the research efforts on African Americans, there continues to be a lack of significant new understanding about the impact of the African American culture on the therapy process and dynamics. This volume provides an in-depth analysis of the counseling literature pertaining to African American clients. Specifically, the analysis includes a review of the different variables (client, counselor, counseling process, and assessment) that have received the bulk of research attention. This sets the stage for the presentation of a counseling model for African American clients. The authors discuss philosophical premises upon which the model is based and suggest specific counseling strategies and interventions related to the model. Case study material is integrated throughout the chapters, focusing on individual and group approaches.

This volume is an important work for counseling professionals as well as for students in social work and counseling programs. 

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About the Author:

Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.: Dr. Thomas A. Parham is Assistant Vice Chancellor for Counseling and Health Services and an adjunct faculty member at the University of California, Irvine. Dr. Parham is a Past President and Distinguished Psychologist of the National Association of Black Psychologists (ABPsi), a Past President of the Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development (a division of ACA), and a Fellow in both the American Psychological Association, as well as ACA.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

INTRODUCTION

The literature on multicultural counseling has now gone beyond the level of supportive rhetoric and moved toward “raising the bar” of measured competence. Professor Thomas Parham has done an excellent job of showing us how that can be done with African American populations. This is not an easy job. Some of the more simplistic attempts to achieve measured competence have resulted in lists of rules that might “keep you out of trouble” but that do not reflect the deeper emotional and affective levels of multicultural counseling competence. The truth is, many majority counselors are “frightened” by their African American and minority clients and are perhaps primarily interested in protecting themselves as much as protecting the client.

For those counselors who don’t care about doing the right thing, nothing will help; for those conscientious counselors who do care, even though they may be unintentionally making mistakes, this book will provide a valuable resource. It does, however, depend on the reader’s intentional caring attitude in the first place. This book will provide specific strategies and techniques to put that caring attitude into practice beyond vague and general statements of support. It is important to understand that Thomas’s primary objective is to empower those caring counselors, increase their success, and multiply their job satisfaction. This book is directed toward making the job of caring counselors easier and not more difficult.

Although this book is about African American culture, it has a generic application for the reader to generalize the ideas presented to other cultural groups and to the reader’s own professional self-awareness. The book represents a kind of journey for Thomas, visiting different sad as well as happy places in his life and professional context. The reader benefits vicariously from his journey through an enriched text. The result has been an African-centered worldview that will help readers discover their own sometimes similar, and sometimes different, worldview. Reading this book will be a journey for the reader just as writing the book has been a journey for Thomas.

Thomas recruited excellent authors to write chapters in this book, leading the way with his own introductory chapter. Cheryl Grills does an excellent job of identifying the indigenous and unique features of African-centered psychology in specific rather than general terms. Thomas and William Parham build a conceptual framework on those basic assumptions followed by a chapter by Thomas Parham on how to measure those conceptual features. Ezemenari Obasi applies the conceptual framework to the notion of the “self” and how a reconceptualized notion of self is essential to personal or professional competence. Cheryl Grills continues to build the conceptual framework combining the notions of self and consciousness in a new “Akan Model.” Thomas describes other models that can be built on the African-centered perspective for use in counseling. Michael Conner ties this conceptual framework in with the role of the family, and particularly the role of African American fathers, for successful counseling. Finally, Thomas Parham ends the book with a discussion of this new level of competence for counseling, synthesizing the different conceptual models of the previous chapters.

The Multicultural Aspects of Counseling book series has become like a multivolume encyclopedia on multicultural counseling and each new volume in that series builds on the comprehensive coverage of the series as a whole. Thomas’s book is consistent with the practical and applied focus of the MAC book series. The books in this series seek to go beyond the obvious aspects of multicultural counseling and struggle with basic underlying assumptions that shape the field and the practice of counseling. The MAC series is attempting to fill in the gaps in the multicultural counseling literature and this book does an excellent job of contributing to that process.

Paul B. Pederson University of Hawaii

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