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A Call to Action for Couple and Family Therapists

January 17, 2021

On Monday, we observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day. This year's holiday is particularly meaningful, following a summer of protests for racial justice, a pandemic that has disproportionately impacted Black and Latinx communities and an impending historical presidential inauguration in the wake of a deadly riot at the Capitol.

As we reflect on the legacy of Dr. King, we acknowledge that the work of honoring his legacy, and the legacies of so many others, is always ongoing.

The December 2020 issue of Family Process, an international, multidisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal edited by Jay L. Lebow, included a special section on Black Lives Matter. Anthony L. Chambers co-authored an article with Shalonda Kelly, Gihane Jérémie‐Brink and Mia A. Smith-Bynum for this section entitled, “The Black Lives Matter Movement: A Call to Action for Couple and Family Therapists.” In the article, the four Black family therapists “lean into this moment to raise awareness of the issues Black families face and encourage therapists of all backgrounds to engage anti‐Black racism directly and in a full‐throated manner.”

The article concludes: “the race‐related events of 2020 serve as a wake‐up call to our profession to pause, reflect, and do better by African American clients and their families. As the United States becomes increasingly more diverse, racial and ethnic tensions are likely to continue to intensify. Clinicians will need to develop greater personal comfort with racial issues, a greater willingness to engage in discussions with Black families about the realities of racism in their lives, and the cultural competency and humility needed to provide effective care for Black families. Graduate programs need to expand students’ exposure to and mastery of key competencies to conduct responsible treatment and research involving Black couples and families that considers structural factors. In this era of Black Lives Matter, substantive and actionable change is needed to achieve a truly diverse, equitable and inclusive society in which Black people and their families thrive.”

Read the full article in Family Process