Breaking the Critical Social Justice Stranglehold on Culturally-Competent Psychotherapy

One of the big problems with contemporary culturally-competent psychotherapy is the way that it has devolved into a politically-motivated reductive antitherapeutic practice tied to a Critical Social Justice agenda. A recent paper engenders hope that some scholars are not constrained by this stifling ideology. Richard Redding and Cory Cobb present a persuasive research-based case for the importance of broadening out how we take into account both the therapist’s and the client’s sociopolitical attitudes and values. They argue that the current orthodoxy is very limited because “cultural values are typically considered only insofar as they are thought to characterize certain demographic groups, particularly racial and ethnic groups.” Furthermore, “sociopolitical attitudes and values have long been ignored even though they can be central to an individual’s identity and life experiences.”

This important paper should make a significant contribution to advancing therapeutic practice and correcting an antitherapeutic political bias in the therapy field. See the title and abstract below.

Title: Sociopolitical Values as the Deep Culture in Culturally-Competent Psychotherapy


Although the consideration of client and therapist values is thought to be a core component of culturally-competent psychotherapy, sociopolitical attitudes and values (SPAVs) have been almost entirely neglected in the cultural competence literature. On the basis of research over the last several decades in behavior genetics, neuroscience, and personality and social psychology, we argue that SPAVs often play a substantial role in people’s self-concept, behaviors, relationships, and life choices. Thus, cultural competence requires that therapists consider the ways in which the SPAVs of the client and therapist, and the interaction between them, can affect therapeutic processes and outcomes. We provide recommendations for taking SPAVs into account in clinical practice, training, and research.

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