Uncommon Strategies for a Common Problem: Addressing Racism in Family Therapy



Race and racism have a profound effect on our daily lives and the practice of family therapy. Whether individual or institutional level, overt or covert, intentional or unintentional, there are a variety of ways in which racism can infiltrate the therapeutic process. Before therapists can take steps to address racism effectively within the context of family therapy, it is important to attend to the development of their racial awareness and racial sensitivity. These provide the critical foundation upon which specific skills and strategies associated with effectively identifying and responding to racism in therapy are based. This article defines racial awareness and sensitivity and provides suggestions for enhancing both. In the section that follows, three major ways in which racism can infiltrate the therapeutic process are described. Skills and strategies for addressing each of these in family therapy are presented.