Kenneth Hardy on The Attack on Diversity


Kenneth Hardy on The Attack on Diversity

By Ken Hardy

March/April 2015


As a profession, we’ve become increasingly focused on our economic survival and seem to have turned a blind eye toward the broader social condition, voicing little about matters that aren’t central to our professional interest. For example, we’ve been mute around the recent race-related issues connected to Ferguson, Missouri, and Staten Island, New York. I don’t hear therapists becoming part of the cultural conversation about the strain in the relationship between police and communities of color, even though no professional group is more qualified to address relationship conflict than we are.

A tendency to ignore the wider social context is reflected in our increasing embrace of more manualized approaches to therapy, predicated on the notion that cultural differences don’t matter much, and you can apply techniques more or less uniformly across different treatment populations. While I don’t think that’s the intentional goal of manualized treatment, you might even see the increasing manualization as an indirect attack on diversity, squeezing out people who live on the margins of mainstream society.

Meanwhile, therapists on the ground in the barrios, in the hoods, and in the trenches often receive no recognition that what they do is “legitimate.” Many of these community-based approaches are changing disconnected lives, even though they may not match the current criteria of what constitutes “good” evidence-based psychotherapy. Plenty of people are working in…

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