ADDRESSING CLIENTS' RACISM AND RACIAL PREJUDICE IN INDIVIDUAL PSYCHOTHERAPY: THERAPEUTIC CONSIDERATIONS

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Abstract

Psychotherapists lack clear guidelines regarding how to address clients' racist and prejudicial comments in clinical work. The authors explore the contributions of multicultural, social justice, feminist, and ethical theories to the field of psychotherapy and apply these theories to 2 clinical vignettes in which clients made racially charged statements. These clinical examples highlight the importance of using racial, in addition to traditional, theories to decipher the clinical meanings of racial comments and dynamics in clinical work. The article provides therapeutic conceptualizations regarding how to address clients' racist and prejudicial comments in psychotherapy and elaborates on the complex meanings that might arise from engaging in racially charged discussions with clients depending on the racial composition of the therapeutic dyad. In addition to highlighting how social justice, multicultural, and feminist lenses are necessary to fully understand the meaning of clients' comments, the argument is made that addressing clients' racist and prejudicial comments is at once a clinical and a social justice issue.

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