ICYMI: Ethical Considerations in Working with African American Clients

by: Jennifer Freifeld, LCSW

 

Dr. April Harris-Britt delivered a critically important message to all who attended her ethics workshop: Ethical Considerations in Working with African American Clients. She cautioned us about the possibility of unintentionally harming our African-American clients by relying on therapeutic approaches that reinforce dominant cultural values and unwittingly create an unsafe space.  She emphasized our ethical responsibility to become more sensitive and competent in our work with African Americans.

 

Using research, videos, stories, and humor, Dr. Harris-Britt invited us to consider how it feels knowing that we have or would feel knowing that we had a decreased life expectancy, a lower income potential regardless of education, an increased chance of harsh legal punishment, and a guarantee that our children would encounter obstacles associated with racism throughout their lives. We learned about the stages of racial identity development, biases built into traditional therapy, and ways to adjust for them (such as working with “healthy paranoia” and emotional expressiveness and spirituality). She called upon us to fulfill our responsibility – to continue to research and integrate culturally competent interventions into our practice.  After 30 minutes of Q&A, participants lingered to share thoughts and ask more questions.

 

Feedback from the workshop included:

 

  • “Thank you so much for the excellent CE option.”
  • “Excellent program, had not considered ethical issues related to cultural differences before.”
  • “Very thought provoking ….”
  • “One of the best presentations I have attended. Well prepared and thorough.”
  • “Very pertinent to my practice and well timed. I needed this.”
  • Bring this speaker back!”

 

** For more information about Dr. April Harris-Britt and her Durham private practice The AHB Center for Behavioral Health and Wellness, please visit www.ahbwellness.com.

 

Jennifer Freifeld, LCSW, practices with The Mindly Group in Raleigh. She focuses on adolescents and adults facing anxiety, depression, relationship issues, and life transitions.