THERAPISTS' RACE AND AFRICAN AMERICAN CLIENTS' REACTIONS TO THERAPY


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Abstract

This study examines the posttherapy reactions and attitudes of 44 African American clients seen at a university clinic in a midwestern city. Clients were randomly assigned to European American or African American therapists for 10 sessions of interpersonal or problem solving therapy. Therapy attitudes and reactions were assessed through clients' ratings of how well they understood and accepted the goals of therapy, their ability to accept and make use of therapeutic interventions, and perceptions of therapeutic benefit. The impact of European American therapists' efforts to cope with racial differences through therapist-initiated discussion of race in the first session or no therapist-initiated discussion of race were examined. African American clients' ratings of therapy indicated that there was a relationship between therapists' race and the understanding and acceptance of therapeutic interventions and perceived benefit of therapy. Clients rated therapeutic understanding and acceptance higher when assigned to an African American therapist. Therapists' initiation of or noninitiation of discussions of race had no affect on ratings of therapy. The clinical implications of these findings and suggestions for future research are discussed.

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