7 thoughts on “For Minority Teens, Therapy Might Discourage Later Treatment

  • February 28, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    I had “counseling” as an accommodation from middle school until the beginning of high school, I have ADHD, learning disabilities, I was diagnosed as emotionally disturbed . I am a latina but due to my appearance and the diversity of my school, I don’t see that as a major part of the issue. I do believe there is a problem with receiving counseling through schools (which might be the reality for some minorities). In my case counseling was mandatory, I had no choice, I was pulled from classes often in front of other students, I was never comfortable with the school counselor, and they were very successful and misinterpreting me and my issues. It made me feel worse.
    I have siblings,each had their own schedule, one at the time was very ill, the financial situation was pretty rough. I didn’t have the opportunities to see a mental health practitioner outside of school. I grew to distrust counseling as a young adult, it took years to approach one to treat the issues I listed above. I’m glad I did.

    • February 28, 2012 at 4:38 pm

      T, I think your experience really points to how context matters. Perhaps being a Latina was not the relevant issue here – I’m not suggesting that race always has to be the dominant factor. But it does sound like like being embarrassed in front of your peers had a lasting impact. It’s too bad that your school couldn’t have found a way to provide more subtle counseling and that when you decided counseling wasn’t helpful that you weren’t able to stop the sessions. I’m glad that as an adult you were ultimately able to find help for whatever issues were still troubling you.

      • February 28, 2012 at 11:28 pm

        I would like to correct myself my counselors (I don’t know what their official titles or qualifications were) were very successful at misinterpreting me and my issues.
        The difference between my treatment as a child versus my treatment as an adult is night and day. One was disempowering and one is empowering.

        One thing that did disturb me though (and this is race but not counseling related) was how disproportionate the special ed population was at my school. The majority of special ed. students were latino. I’ve heard of this being an issue with african american kids as well.

  • March 3, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    I am mixed black/latino.
    The special ed kids in my high school were evenly balanced on race, maybe a couple or few more caucasian children. I lived on a side of town that was not the wealthy side but my town nonetheless was a wealthy town.

    I was in hospitals/counseling…the works…as a preteen through teenage. When I got 18 I quit all of it because of my experiences in hospitals and being felt like I wasnt listened to and labeled what i was BECAUSE of my race. Although, i felt that i was, I dont know. After a few years, im back in counseling. Not looking towards medications though again.

  • April 25, 2013 at 10:25 am

    I would first ask about the gender and ethnic breakdown of the therapists. My hypothesis is that they’re predominantly male and white so I’d argue that one of the reasons for the sort of disinterest by racial minorities is partly rooted in the children’s inability to relate to the therapist and also difficulties in terms of discussing/dealing with issues surrounding discrimination and race (Which I think contribute largely to mental health issues)

    • April 25, 2013 at 10:57 am

      Absolutely a valid question. People – and, I’d argue, especially kids and teens – need to be able to feel comfortable with a therapist in order to open up and gain anything from the therapy.

  • December 5, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    I am in my final year as a doctoral advanced practiced RN, and I do worry about how culture and race will play out. I would like to work in a rural area, ideally tribal, partly because I have some things that need to be “paid forward”. I have enough knowledge to be pretty clear that there are a ton of pitfalls to be made when trying to extend a hand of help across cultural and racial lines. As an example, I’m of Polish descent, and so I’m totally comfortable picnicking near the graves of loved ones and offering them alcoholic drinks. Not a lot of my fellow RNs do that, or would be particularly comfortable hearing about it. And yet sometimes it is these very culture-specific things which are key to someone’s recovery and health. My undergrad paper was a comparison of the onset of schizophrenia in young men in western cultures and shamanic crisis in some non-western cultures. I find that there is a LOT more success in treating shamanic crisis than treating schizophrenia. But how many white suburban parents are going to actually listen to that? And where are the spiritual teachers I would like to refer my patients to?

    I think there is a LOT more to health than physical health – and mental. What about emotional, social and spiritual?


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