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Meeting the Needs of Hispanic Patients

Although factors like health care costs are often reasons that Hispanics quit psychotherapy, Dr. Elizabeth Fraga, a lecturer in the Department of Counseling and Clinical Psychology, said many of them simply feel misunderstood by their therapists.  "Some Hispanics are not completely comfortable [speaking] in English," she said. "And sometimes the values of psychotherapy--or the therapist--are antithetical to those of the Hispanic client." 

Fraga surveyed 107 Latino students receiving therapy from a college counseling center to assess how ethnically and culturally similar they felt their therapists were to them.  Her as-yet unpublished study found students were less concerned with the ethnicity of their therapists and placed greater value on how well they believed therapists understood the Latino culture.  "This is great news because it's difficult to give clients an ethnic match," Fraga said, particularly because training therapists to better understand the Hispanic culture may help despite the shortage of Latino therapists. 

The article, entitled "Closing the Gap for Latino Patients," appeared in the January 2005 edition of Monitor on Psychology.

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