Practitioners' Perceptions of Preparedness in Providing Culturally Responsive Therapy to Diverse Clients

Molly Welch, University of St. Thomas


The population in the United States continues to become more culturally diverse, and as such, the ability to provide culturally responsive therapy to diverse clients continues to present its challenges. These challenges come in many forms; among them including concerns about whether therapists should address racial differences with clients and, if so, how. Another concern lies within the question of what denotes cultural competence, and what tools should be utilized to ensure adequate therapist training. In addition to these ‘skill-specific challenges,’ there is a more embedded topic that is posing significant challenge, a topic that is seldom explored; the perceptions therapists hold of their levels of cultural competence in serving diverse clients and how, if at all, these perceptions impact the services offered to diverse clients, the therapeutic relationship, and client satisfaction. The purpose of this study is to further explore and understand practitioners’ perceptions of preparedness in serving their diverse clients, with an emphasis on their current experiences as interns and clinicians. Seven mental health providers at were interviewed using a standardized, open-ended approach, and transcripts were analyzed. Initially, a deductive theory-based analysis was conducted and data yielded 10 total themes, two subcategories, and two overarching categories. A second, inductive analysis was then conducted and two additional subcategories emerged. Four themes were grouped into two subcategories that were encompassed by an overarching category related to intrapersonal development. The other six themes were grouped into two additional subcategories encompassed by an overarching category related to interpersonal development. Implications of data and potential further research were also examined.