African Americans: The Cultural Norms vs. The Group Counseling Experience

African Americans: The Cultural Norms vs. The Group Counseling Experience

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African Americans in general avoid counseling of any form and group counseling is no exception to the rule. There are several cultural factors that play a part in framing this rule for African Americans, but the major issues are religion and spirituality, dealing with family and personal business according to what the culture deems acceptable and prejudices both held by African Americans and their concern over the prejudices of others toward them. Unfortunately as a result of the close-minded nature of the culture to counseling and the lack of education regarding the group counseling experience and its many benefits, many African American individuals are left attempting to cope with life’s issues alone.
“Today as we experience the early part of the 21st century, the church remains at the center of community life, attending to the social, spiritual, and psychological needs of scores of African Americans. No other institution has claimed the loyalty and attention of African Americans as has the church” (Lee, 2006, p. 114). An overwhelming majority of African Americans rely solely on their faith and trust in a higher being in times of difficulty and crisis regardless of the nature or extent of the situation. “In traditional African societies, religion/spirituality permeated human existence. An individual’s entire life was spiritual phenomenon. Spirituality was an integral part of a unity principle in which humans, animals, plants, and natural phenomena were interrelated in a natural order with God being the driving force” (Lee, 2006, p. 58). While there is nothing that makes this belief or set of beliefs completely wrong, such practice limits their resources and excludes all other avenues of assistance. Group counseling is one of th...

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...ling Group for African-American Females. Professional School Counseling, 3(4), 264-269.
Muller, L. E. (2002, September). Group Counseling for African American Males: When All You Have Are European American Counselors. Journal for Specialists in Group Work, 27(3), 299-313.
Souls of Black Men: African American Men Discuss Mental Health. (2003, July 21). Community Voices. Retrieved from
Steward, R. J. (1993, September/October). Black Women and White Women in Groups: Suggestions for MInority-Sensitive Group Services on University Campuses. Journal of Counseling and Development, 72(), 39-41.
Want, V., Parham, T. A., Baker, R. C., & Sherman, M. (2004). African American Students’ Ratings of Caucasian and African American Counselors Varying in Racial Consciousness. : Educational Publishing Foundation.

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