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Tiffany Rush-Wilson


Psychological counseling is known to be an effective option for people in need of emotional support. Previous research has shown counseling to be valuable among various age, sex, religious, socioeconomic, and racial groups. Despite its successes, members of certain demographic groups reportedly end supportive psychological therapies early. The purpose of this study was to investigate the experiences of 10 self-identified African American and Hispanic clients who prematurely terminated therapy. A particular focus of this investigation was the clients' perceptions of clinician cultural awareness. This phenomenological study yielded descriptive data in a context sufficient for analysis with the use of broad or axial coding systems. Participants indicated that the experience of benign and malign forms of cultural insensitivity precipitated their decision to terminate treatment early. Findings supported that therapists need to have greater cultural sensitivity toward the specific needs of African Americans and Hispanics in the therapy room. Additionally, some of the data was lacking in richness, which may indicate the possibilities that clients from these groups lack (a) full awareness of their roles within the power system of therapy, (b) may need encouragement to articulate a more critical point of view, or (c) the luxury to introspect about the nature of their experiences, which inhibits their responses. Based on these possibilities, future recommendations are presented for gathering richer data from minority clients who terminate therapy early. Improving cultural sensitivity, which may be a matter of respect and transparency more than culturally specific knowledge, has implications for social change by leading to higher retention and, therefore, better treatment outcomes in therapy.

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