Create a Black/African-American Emphasis in the Counseling Psychology Program

Create a Black/African-American Emphasis in the Counseling Psychology Program

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Stacie Aori started this petition to Santa Clara University

"The ethics of all related mental health professions require increased understanding and sensitivity to those whose backgrounds are different." (Shapiro et al., 2019)

Currently the Black/African community makes up 2% of all students in the Santa Clara University's Counseling Education Masters program, in a country that has a 13.4% population identified as Black or African-American. In addition, there are currently no Black/African-American faculty in the Counseling Education program. This proposal is for a Black/African-American emphasis in order to create more informed clinicians who, most likely, will encounter a black client at some point in their practice. Knowing and understanding the experiences Black people face in the United States, is crucial for the betterment and progress of Black clients. We also need professors who have different experiences from life, they will bring views and perspectives to this program that we wouldn't otherwise have. When I came into this program/school, I was led to believe that they believed in diversity, justice, and community; looking around my classes and school community I don't see the Black experience properly represented.

There are multiple mechanisms that contribute to the mental health disparities in the African American community; some mechanisms include socioeconomic status (SES), adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), neighborhood-level stressors, family structure, and practitioners’ implicit biases and limited cultural competence. 39% of African American youth under 18 years of age live in poverty, compared to 14% non-Latino whites and 14% Asians. 

In conjunction with daily struggles with discrimination and racism, minority youth are exposed to practitioners’ biases and prejudices which plays a role to the disparities in the mental health field. Practitioners’ implicit biases are beliefs such as that minorities are not intelligent, abuse drugs and alcohol, and are more likely to be non-compliance to treatment. The implicit bias affects minorities in the way they are diagnosed. African American males are seen as violent and dangerous thus psychiatrists are more likely to be diagnosed with severe disorders compared to their White counterparts. Not only do racial and ethnic minorities represent 10% of practitioners, psychological health and treatment practices are created by White male researchers which may not have external validity to minority patients. 

Lastly, it is also proposed that we also attain books and class materials that cater to the whole American experience, rather than the White, straight, cisgender American experience.  We even have new laws in place that do not cater to the old traditional way of thinking, but yet we're learning skills to help an America that we don't live in and won't live in.

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