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No Racial Elephants in the Therapy Room

An Unapologetic Approach to Providing Culturally Affirming Mental Health Care to Black and African American Clients

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Rheeda Walker, PhD
Publication Date:
May 21, 2024
PESI Publishing
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Do you avoid asking Black clients certain questions because you’re embarrassed about something you think you “should” know about “Black culture” or racism?

Are you hesitant to have conversations about race or racism with Black clients because you’re afraid you’ll look ignorant or unintentionally offend them?

Do you believe that if a Black client doesn’t mention race-related issues as a presenting concern, then it’s not worth bringing up at all?

The reality is that although many Black clients will not zero in on the impact of racism in their lives, ignoring the issue of race in therapy leaves a very large elephant in the room. And you can’t build rapport with elephants in the room. So what do you do?

In No Racial Elephants in the Therapy Room. Dr. Rheeda Walker, author of the bestselling The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health, provides the answers to this question. With her no-nonsense and unapologetic style, she provides useful language, tips, and guidance that will allow you to:

  • Navigate the first session with Black clients who are wary about working with you
  • Create case conceptualizations without missing well-disguised emotional distress
  • Feel more comfortable talking about race, racism, and what it means to be Black
  • Move beyond cultural competence to assume an attitude of cultural humility
  • Use CBT to reframe unhelpful thoughts without minimizing a client’s experiences with racism
  • Integrate religion and spirituality into therapy given its value in the Black community
  • Avoid common pitfalls and not to-dos when working with Black clients

Mental health care isn’t designed with Black people in mind. If you truly want to meet African American clients where they are, you will have to confront the sometimes deafening, and surely distracting, elephant in the room.




Rheeda Walker, PhD's Profile

Rheeda Walker, PhD Related seminars and products

Rheeda Walker, PhD, is an award-winning professor of psychology at the University of Houston, licensed clinical psychologist, and influential scholar who has published more than sixty scientific papers on African American adult mental health, suicide risk, and psychological resilience. She is also the author of the highly acclaimed The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health. Dr. Walkers’ expertise has been cited in countless media outlets, including The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Houston Chronicle. She is a Georgia native who now claims Houston, Texas, as home with her husband and teenage son.


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