African Americans

Posted by on Dec 1, 2016 in | 0 comments

Showing all 8 results

  • We are making history now— Vanessa McAdams-Mahmoud


    Working as a psychotherapist at Spelman College, each day I hear stories from young African-American women and their partners, friends and families. These are stories about every conceivable issue and experience. I am able to share in the happiness and joys of these young women’s lives as well as witness stories of sadness and confusion.

  • In Our Own Voice: African-American stories of oppression, survival and recovery in mental health systems— Vanessa Jackson


    A review of the history of mental health includes few references to the African-American experience. Robert Meinsma’s Brief History of Mental Therapy offers a review of philosophical and medical views on mental illness dating back to 600 BC that includes nearly a thousand entries. However, this very comprehensive document boasts fewer than five entries pertaining to the experiences of people of African descent. A similar criticism can be offered of the timeline compiled by the American Psychological Association (Street 2001). African-Americans have a presence in America dating back to at least 1619 when the first African indentured servants arrived in America (Bennett 1993).This chapter attempts to supplement the official records by offering a few accounts of African-American psychiatric survivors’ experiences, and the philosophy and policies that guided the treatment of our ancestors and which still influence our treatment today.

  • De-colonizing our lives: Divining a post-colonial therapy— Makungu Akinyela


    I am a therapist of African descent, born in the United States. I consult primarily with families of African descent. I believe that the emotional, relationship and mental health concerns that families present to me in consultation can be best understood within the social, cultural and historical context of resistance against racial domination in the United States. Those families who come to see me are commonly struggling with questions and issues that have their roots in slavery and Jim Crow segregation as well as the current system of what I refer to as American racial colonialism. While it is now over thirty years since the end of Jim Crow, and many of our people are no longer legally discriminated against, Eurocentric thinking, metaphors and dominant narratives continue to define relationships among Africans in America and between African and European Americans.

  • In appreciation— Norma Akamatsu


    A note of appreciation.

  • Reparations: Repairing relationships and honouring ancestry— Makungu Akinyela


    When damage has been done to a people, when there has been exploitation and one group has benefited from this, then a key aspect of repairing the relationship between these groups are processes of reparation. Processes of reparation enable the damage that has been done to be mended and relationships to be healed. Where abuse has occurred, it is of great importance in order for healing to take place, that the effects of the abuse be fully acknowledged, and that the perpetrator of the abuse engage in acts of redress and reparation. In my experience, where this occurs there is a much greater likelihood of relationships being restored. This is true in therapeutic contexts as well as larger cultural and social contexts.

  • Suggestions for further reading— Anita Franklin



    When asked to provide suggestions for further reading in relation to the theme of African American experience, I chose these three books as I believe they are particularly applicable to the situation of African Americans and others of African descent living in the West as a result of slavery and colonialism. I have found, when I am asked to teach about Black America, that these texts are the ones which I find myself recommending to students time and time again.


  • To be a healer not a jailer: Implications for therapists in moving beyond punishment— Kenneth V. Hardy


    I initially began to think critically about the issue of punishment when working with young children. The first thing I noticed was that in families where children received frequent and excessive punishment there were vivid effects on the child’s development. When I saw a child in therapy who I was told was sneaky, or manipulative, or lying in relation to routine matters, upon asking various questions what came to the fore was that often these children had very good reason to fear punishment, either from their parents or from others outside the family. I came to see how these children had developed coping strategies in response to the fear of punishment. Time and again, I saw how an over-reliance on punishment had created more problems than it had effectively addressed. I particularly noticed how the legacies of punishment became problematic for families as children reached adolescence.

  • Stories of pride (a much loved previously published article) — Barbara Wingard


    In June 2001, Barbara Wingard, Cheryl White and David Denborough travelled to the USA to meet with people from African-American, Latino and Native American communities to talk through cultural protocols in relation to the upcoming International Narrative Therapy and Community Work Conference to be co-hosted by Dulwich Centre and Spelman College in Atlanta Georgia. The following piece of writing was created from an interview that took place on the banks of the Murray River upon our return to Australia. We’ve included this piece of writing because it powerfully makes the links between the experience of Aboriginal Australian, African-American, Latino and Native American communities.


  1. “Narrative therapy doesn’t believe in a ‘whole self’ which needs to be integrated but rather that our identities are made up of many stories, and that these stories are constantly changing.”

    I like this, I find it very compatible with my beliefs as a Buddhist. In Buddhism, as I understand it, mistaken beliefs about a solid, fixed “self” are the source of our suffering.

    I work with couples using EFT for couples, and in that approach, there is a big emphasis on externalising the problem as “the cycle that you get trapped in”, and encouraging couples to come up with their own name for it.

  2. Thank you for this. I am a counsellor, and trying to make as much as possible of my notes “in quotes”, that is, writing down things that the clients said. And not my own opinions.

  3. hello

    I the ED of a Friendship Center in Terrace, BC where were mostly target the indigenous population in our city of 12,000. I found your video interesting and something that we may want to try. Havee you been able to to do any follow ups studies to gage the long term effect of your program?


    Cal Albright
    Kermode Friendship Center
    Terrace, BC

  4. Thank you for this overview of Narrative Therapy. I am returning to practice after some time away, and these reminders are timely and appreciated.

  5. Hi Chris

    I really enjoyed watching your video about Narrative Walks. My project is based in Blaenau Gwent, in South Wales, Uk. I’m wondering whether I might use such an approach in my work with our Youth Service, who support young people between the ages of 11 and 25. Have you any thoughts on this? Are there any resources available, either free or to purchase?

    Best wishes


    • Hi Paul, m

      Much of my early attempts of the program were with the 15-20 year old age bracket and I found it worked really well. When I recently had an opportunity to run the program again with this age bracket – I extended the finish time so that could spend more time at the stop points and have a fire at the last resting place to talk about our intentions after the walk. This meant that we used head torches for the 2km which added a bit of a sense of theatre to the day. It was pretty cool.

      If you email me on I can send you the manual. Or ask any other questions via this page so others might share in the answers.


  6. Thank you for sharing your insights. This has been very enlightening as a student studying post-grad social work. Recently my tutorial group was discussing how professionals often use their interpretation and that clients may not get to see how some professionals interpret their stories, in this way many things can be missed especially what the client sees as being important.