Cultural Humility: A Therapeutic Framework for Engaging Diverse Clients

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Abstract

Therapists and mental health professionals strive to provide competent treatment to increasingly diverse populations, but can struggle to effectively engage with clients from different cultural backgrounds. Cultural humility is an approach and process that can help facilitate strong working alliances between therapists and diverse clients, leading to better therapy outcomes. In this article, we first consolidate definitions of cultural humility and work to better operationalize the construct. Next, we provide a brief review of empirical studies examining the role of cultural humility in therapy. Then, we offer a 4-part framework for applying cultural humility in therapy by (a) engaging in critical self-examination and self-awareness, (b) building the therapeutic alliance, (c) repairing cultural ruptures, and (d) navigating value differences. Finally, we illustrate what cultural humility looks like in the therapy room with two case studies.

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