Multicultural Counseling: Perspectives from Counselors as Clients of Color

By Aretha Faye Marbley | Go to book overview

3
The Black or African
American Client’s Story
The Souls of Black Folk

I noticed that with you. When you first called, you were very academic, very intelligent. You started out with
all the buzz words of our chosen profession. But when we began to really talk, you reverted back into the
local colloquialism. [He laughs.]

Joshua

This chapter provides an overview of the literature on African Americans’ experiences in mental health followed by a discussion of African American study participants’ experiences as they relate to the emergent themes. Using these participants’ experiences as a center point, the chapter will highlight the intragroup differences existing among Black Americans, provide discussion on counseling relationships that African Americans view as successful based on the personal and professional experiences of the African American participants, and discuss how the factors addressed in the first two chapters (bias, culture, and credibility) directly relate to African Americans. The chapter concludes with implications and recommendations for counseling and psychotherapy with African Americans.

Embedded in the stories in this chapter on African Americans, like DuBois’s (1903/1996) book The Souls of Black Folk, is a compelling storyline of African American life that includes the struggles and the triumphs, and the human abuse clashing with their spiritual strength. Like African Americans themselves, some of their stories are complex, tragic, and profoundly paradoxical, but they are accurate stories of the lives of Black people in the United States. The stories in this chapter, like those in The Souls of Black Folks, are prophetic, inspirational, and timeless. Shawn’s and Joshua’s stories capture the issues relevant to African American people just as poignantly today as Dubois’s book captured them more than 100 years ago. Or have the issues of the 19th and 20th centuries merely remained unchanged?

-31-

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