Module 3 Overview - MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES WITH AFRICAN AMERICANS

Committing to Cultural Competence

Kevin Washington (Mwata Kairi), PhD

Cultural Competence is seen as one knowing their cultural values and those of others. Effective interaction with culturally diverse groups requires one to embrace the value and significance of culture on a person’s well-being. Participants will look at their culture and understand how to value the cultures of others. This specialization course is intended to introduce participants to the importance of cultural competence in the context of mental health service delivery. The major contention is that the practice and process of culturally relevant psychotherapy are essential to positively impact mental wellness among ethnically, culturally, and racially diverse populations.   This workshop is an orientation into the theory and practice of culturally competent mental service delivery.

Course Rationale

Understanding culture requires one to have a clear understanding of the elements of worldview that comprise culture. This module explores the dynamics of culture and its varied manifestations. It is understood that social, economic, and political dynamics within a sociocultural context can negatively or positively impact human mental and/or psychological wellness.  These same dynamics influence human behavior in constructive and destructive ways.  When socially, communally, and personally destructive behaviors manifest, mental health professionals are paramount in the treatment (healing) of such behaviors.  Mental health professionals facilitate healing through 1) diagnosing the behavior, 2) exploring the etiology (cause) of the behavior, and 3) prescribing treatment (healing) for the behavior. 

Course Objectives

Upon the completion of this course, participants will possess the knowledge to:

  1. Communicate (orally and written) an understanding of cultural competence within the context of mental health service delivery.

  2. Demonstrate a fundamental knowledge base of culturally competent mental health service concepts/theories that are associated with the subject.

  3. Discuss why therapists are advantaged by possessing some level of cultural competence.

  4. Elaborate on the directives that constitute a culturally appropriate diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders for diverse populations.

  5. Understand, conceptualize, and apply culturally relevant therapy models within their mental health practice.


Learning Objectives

Upon the completion of this session participants will be:

  1. Knowledgeable of the training model that will be implemented and what is expected of them as participants.
  2. Aware of what cultural competence is.
  3. Aware of those areas of strength as well as areas where there is a need for improvement regarding their cultural competence.
  4. Be able to clarify their personal goals about enhancing their cultural competence.
  5. Develop the capacity to demonstrate a commitment to working together to enhance their cultural competence with families and children.

Instructional Methodology


To ensure that participants gain the maximum benefit from this course, experiential and didactic instructional modalities are utilized.  Participants are allowed to discuss the presented information, as well as develop their case conceptualization for mental health services.  Various media forms such as PowerPoint presentations and video materials are employed to enhance the teaching/learning process.

Outline for Session

  • Introduction of trainers and participants: Why are we here? Exploring the dynamics of culture on human functioning/interactions (10”) 
  • Exercise 1: What is my Culture? Self-exploration into cultural values and worldview (30”)
  • What is your name? What is the history/meaning of your name? How did you get your name? Indicate what you know about the origins of your name and why you were named the way you were. Discuss any personal experiences associated with your name. 
  • Consider how your name has impacted your interactions in the Western world. Did it impact how you were perceived in school or on a job? What values are associated with your name? Complete Form on “Assessing My Cultural Values”.
  • Why Cultural Competency Training: Review of curriculum and the components of cultural competence. A discussion of goals of training model and outcomes (15”)
  • The Global Citizenship Imperative: Cultural Competence for Global Nomads (20”)
  • Completion of Cultural Competence Self-Assessment (https://nccc.georgetown.edu/documents/ChecklistBehavioralHealth.pdf) From Tawara D. Goode ▪National Center for Cultural Competence ▪ Georgetown University Center for Child & Human Development ▪ University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research & Service ▪ Adapted from Promoting Cultural Competence and Cultural Diversity in Early Intervention and Early Childhood SettingsJune 1989. (Revised 2009). 

Cultural Competence in mental health practice (40”)

  • Process and Praxis
  • Techniques
  • Impact on the therapeutic relationship
  • How to assess when it’s working well or not
  • Value of self and other


Cultural Competency Black Family Goals 

Psychotherapy in the Family Context

Kevin Washington (Mwata Kairi),


This specialization course is intended to introduce participants to the theory and systems of the practice and process of culturally relevant psychotherapy in the Black Family Context. The presenter contends that psychological healing of Afrikan couples and families can be best achieved through the implementation of a psychotherapeutic healing paradigm that is consistent with the essence and experiences of families of Afrikan ancestry. To that end, this workshop advances an Afrikan Centered (culturally sensitive) mental health service delivery modality for Black Couples and Families.

Course Rationale

Human functioning is dynamic and is therefore ever-evolving. This course strives to return to the essence of understanding human functioning with the intent of highlighting the current utility of ancient healing modalities. Social, economic, and political dynamics within a sociocultural context negatively or positively impact human mental and/or psychological wellness. These same dynamics influence human behavior in constructive and destructive ways. When socially, communally, and personally destructive behaviors manifest, mental health professionals are paramount in the treatment (healing) of such behaviors. Mental health professionals facilitate healing through 1) diagnosing the behavior, 2) exploring the etiology (cause) of the behavior, and 3) prescribing treatment (healing) for the behavior. Psychology is the area of study that explores human behaviors and their treatment (healing). Afrikan/Black Psychology examines deeply the essence of being and seeks to align one with their greatest potential. Ubuntu Psychotherapy is a modality for the practical application of the Afrikan/Black Psychology theories. The Cultural Competency workshop is designed to provide a brief overview of Afrikan/Black Psychology through researching the history and recent developments in the field of psychology. This workshop examines the dynamics of human beingness, therapeutic (healing) techniques, and current ethical issues as they relate to Afrikan/Black people. Moreover, mental service delivery techniques are presented.


Course Objectives

Upon the completion of this course, participants will possess the knowledge to:

  1. Communicate (orally and written) an understanding of the historical, philosophical, theoretical systems of Afrikan/Black psychology in psychotherapy.
  2. Demonstrate a fundamental knowledge base of Afrikan/Black Psychology as well as Afrikan traditional healing systems and the terminologies that are associated with the subject.
  3. Discuss how/why Afrikan-centered psychotherapy can be defined as an expression of wisdom and family science that concerns itself with the human functioning of Black people.
  4. Elaborate on the directives that constitute Afrikan and European world views as well as a culturally appropriate diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders based on worldview.
  5. Understand, conceptualize, and apply a culturally relevant therapy model with diverse couples and families.

Participant Objectives

The objectives of this course are:

  1. To provide a framework for establishing an operational definition of Afrikan/Black Psychology and Psychotherapy,
  2. To discuss the history and development of culturally competent psychotherapy,
  3. To provide participants with a knowledge base into Afrikan/Black mental health of the Black Family so that they can elucidate the sociocultural and physiological contributors to the etiology of various mental disorders,
  4. To provide participants with a knowledge foundation into Afrikan/Black Psychotherapy so that they will have the skills to identify possible culturally appropriate mental health diagnosis and treatment (healing) modalities of the Black Family,
  5. To increase students’ knowledge base about the application of culturally responsive Psychotherapy in the context of the Black Family.


Instructional Methodology

To ensure that participants gain the maximum benefit from this course, experiential and didactic instructional modalities are utilized. Participants are encouraged to discuss the presented information, as well as develop their case conceptualization for mental health services. Various media forms such as PowerPoint presentations and video materials are employed to enhance the teaching/learning process.