Black Families in Therapy: Understanding the African American Experience

Black Families in Therapy: Understanding the African American Experience

Black Families in Therapy: Understanding the African American Experience

Black Families in Therapy: Understanding the African American Experience


Now in a fully revised and expanded second edition, this classic text guides helping professionals and students to understand and address cultural and racial issues in therapy. Leading family therapist Nancy Boyd-Franklin explores the problems and challenges facing African American communities at different socioeconomic levels; expands major therapeutic concepts and models to be more relevant to the experiences of African American families and individuals; and, outlines an empowering, multisystemic approach to helping clients mobilize cultural and personal resources for change. Strategies for optimizing the therapeutic alliance and overcoming barriers in treatment are illustrated with extensive clinical material.

New in the Second Edition:

• discussions of important topics for African American communities today, including Afrocentricity; Rites-of-Passage programs; educational disparities, particularly as they affect boys; racial profiling; violence; substance abuse; and, HIV/AIDS

• new chapter on the impact of racism on gender socialization and relationships, including implications for couple therapy

• expanded coverage of racial identity issues in African American families and spiritual resources in therapy

• new chapter on public policy issues affecting families: welfare reform, kinship care, affirmative action, managed care, and more

• new chapter on divorce, remarriage, and stepparenting in the extended family context

• brief sections on Caribbean and biracial children and families.



The publication of Black Families in Therapy in 1989 was described as a landmark contribution to the clinical literature. In this second edition, I have kept and updated the most important elements of the first edition, while significantly expanding into many important new areas. The last decade has brought major changes in legislation and public policy initiatives that have directly impacted the lives of many African American families. With this in mind, I have included a new chapter on public policy issues (Chapter 12) that discusses welfare reform, the Adoptions and Safe Families Act, kinship care, managed care, and affirmative action. There have also been significant demographic shifts in the African American population in recent years. Chapter 1 now includes a thorough overview of the complexity of different socioeconomic and class distinctions in African American communities, including the nonworking poor, the working poor (see also Chapter 13), and working-class, middle-class, and upper-income families (see also Chapter 15).

Black families in this country have become increasingly more diverse in recent years. I am particularly aware of the ethnic and cultural diversity that can exist in the African American community because I grew up in an African American family with both African American and Jamaican roots. My father's family is African American and moved to Harlem from North and South Carolina. My maternal grandparents both moved to Harlem from Jamaica, and my parents and I were all born in Harlem. My experiences are not unique. Unfortunately, many clinicians are unaware of the complexity of their clients' ethnic backgrounds and do not explore these issues with their African American clients, particularly in later generations. In recognition of this increasing diversity, this edition, although focusing primarily on African American families, includes in Chapter 8 a brief section on Caribbean families. Chapter 8 also includes a brief section on the issues and related treatment of biracial and mul-

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