Ethnocultural Psychotherapy

Cover of Ethnocultural Psychotherapy (medium)
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Format: DVD [Closed Captioned]
Availability: In Stock
Running Time: Approximately 50 minutes
Item #: 4310825
ISBN: 978-1-4338-0226-3
Copyright: 1994

In Ethnocultural Psychotherapy, Dr. Lillian Comas-Diaz demonstrates her approach to integrating the implications and effects of human diversity into therapeutic practice. This approach recognizes the concept of self as an internal ethnocultural representation and focuses on empowerment and awareness of context. In this session, Dr. Comas-Diaz works with a young Latina woman to explore the sources of her anger management issues and reach toward a healing transformation.

This video features a client portrayed by an actor on the basis of actual case material.


Ethnocultural psychotherapy was developed by Dr. Comas-Diaz and Dr. Frederick M. Jacobsen to integrate human diversity into clinical practice. This eclectic approach acknowledges the concept of self as an internal ethnocultural representation. The recognition, recovery, and use of the client's strengths constitute central tenets in this framework.

Ethnocultural psychotherapy acknowledges the significance of power and its paradoxical effects. As an empowering approach, it aims at conscientization (increasing awareness) and transformation. Within this context, conscientization involves the awakening of consciousness, a change of mentality, resulting in a realistic awareness of one's place in society; the capacity to critically analyze the causes and consequences of one's position; and taking action that is logically aimed at transformation.

Ethnocultural psychotherapy examines human diversity dynamics and processes in a contextualized manner. Some of these constructs include self–world relationships, identity, transculturation, and ethnocultural transference and countertransference. Ethnocultural psychotherapy acknowledges the confluence of both the therapist's and the client's realities. Given that such confluence is accentuated within the dyadic encounter, the therapeutic relationship is recognized as an essential agent of change. The therapist–client relationship attempts to promote critical consciousness and transformation. It facilitates ethnocultural identification and addresses the attribution of otherness.

Ethnocultural psychotherapy reconciles ethnocultural factors in assessment and treatment. The ethnocultural assessment was specifically developed as both an assessment and a treatment tool. It considers several stages that may have contributed to the development of the client's ethnocultural identity. These stages include ethnocultural heritage, family myth, posttransition analysis, self-adjustment, and factors in the therapist's ethnocultural background to determine specific areas of real or potential overlap with the client's background. Other clinical tools include multigenerational genograms, ethnocultural transitional maps, testimonies, and ethnocultural tales.

About the Therapist

Lillian Comas-Diaz received her PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Massachusetts. The executive director of the Transcultural Mental Health Institute, she also maintains a private practice in Washington, DC. Dr. Comas-Diaz is the former director of the American Psychological Association's Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs and the former director of the Hispanic Clinic at Yale University School of Medicine. A fellow of the American Psychological Association, she is the recipient of the Committee on Women in Psychology's Award for Emerging Leader for Women in Psychology.

Dr. Comas-Diaz has published extensively on the topics of ethnocultural mental health, gender and ethnic factors in psychotherapy, treatment of torture victims, international psychology, and Latino mental health. Her most recent edited book is Women of Color: Integrating Ethnic and Gender Identities Into Psychotherapy. She is the editor-in-chief of a new journal on diversity and clinical practice.

Suggested Readings
  • Comas-Diaz, L., & Griffith, E. H. E. (Eds.). (1988). Clinical guidelines in cross cultural mental health. New York: Wiley.
  • Comas-Diaz, L., & Jacobsen, F. M. (1987). Ethnocultural identification in psychotherapy. Psychiatry, 50(3), 232–241.
  • Comas-Diaz, L., & Jacobsen, F. M. (1991). Ethnocultural transference and countertransference in the therapeutic dyad. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 61(3), 392–402.
  • Ho, M. H. (1987). Family therapy with ethnic minorities. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
  • Jacobsen, F. M. (1988). Ethnocultural assessment. In L. Comas-Diaz & E. H. E. Griffith (Eds.), Clinical guidelines in cross cultural mental health. New York: Wiley.
  • Pinderhughes, E. (1989). Understanding race, ethnicity and power: The key to efficacy in clinical practice. New York: Free Press.

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