The experience of clinicians who work with immigrants
Immigrants in the United States experience a unique array of mental health stressors related to their experiences of migration and acculturation. For immigrants who are also persons of color, additional obstacles and stressors may compound their experiences. Previous research indicates that while psychologists who work with this population may endorse multicultural competence, they may not actually carry out culturally sensitive practices. Additionally, much of the present literature on therapy with minority clients focuses on aspirational goals. However, analyses of the ways in which these tenets are applied to clinical work are few and far between. What are the barriers to implementing these practices? What resources support clinicians who are working with diverse immigrant populations? The present qualitative study focused on the experience of clinicians who work with minority immigrant clients. Thirteen White psychologists responded to open-ended questions regarding their clinical experience with this population. Interview questions explored positive and negative clinical experiences, issues of power, and the ways in which the therapeutic relationship impacted clinicians' views of themselves. Results of the study indicate that internal and external systemic factors influenced clinicians' expectations for therapy as well as the manner in which they approached problematic relational outcomes. Analyses further highlighted the role of power and systemic influences on the therapeutic relationship. Participating psychologists painted a clear picture of the importance of collaborative, empathic relationships, which further highlights the consequences of neglecting to address underlying tensions. A clear and consistent theme of deeply personal commitment to their work transcended individual interviews. Implications for researchers, clinicians, and training institutions were addressed.