Cultural Competency in Healthcare
Updated: Jul 25, 2019
Just hours after child birth, renowned professional tennis player Serena Williams, faced a near death experience after doctors refused to listen to her medical needs. Having lived with pulmonary embolism for many years, Williams knew that her shortness of breath and pain in her chest were due to blood clots in her lung. However, after ordering a CT scan and blood thinner, doctors did not take her request seriously. Doctors stalled, running irrelevant tests as Williams struggled to breathe. Hours later doctors found that Williams had been right about what she needed to treat her condition, one that is twice as common in black women than white; yet, because of racial biases, distrust, and unfamiliarity with conditions specific to certain ethnicities, Williams had almost lost her life.
This lack of cultural competence exists throughout the entire medical field. Providers and organizations, majorly employing white doctors, are more likely to overlook the social, cultural, and linguistic needs of all patients – i.e the Tuskegee Experiment. Williams’ story demonstrates the importance of cultural competence; without it runs the risk of distrust and suffering patients.
Unfortunately, this issue is even more prevalent in psychotherapy, as patients are often mismatched with counselors who are unable to provide effective health care services. 83.6% of psychotherapists are white, and 56% of them report having no form of cultural competence training. This means that people of color are less likely to be matched with a therapist who can understand and respond to the cultural and social aspects of the patient’s life. One of the leading reasons why people of color drop out of therapy is because they feel misunderstood.
People of color amount to nearly 40% of the American population. They are an ever-growing population that needs proper and effective care; and although there are ethnic specific therapies, they are rare and still fail to account for intersectionality.
This why we, AYANA, are here. We understand the importance of cultural competence and the consequences of its absence. This is why we strive for a diverse population of therapists to cater to everyone. Whether you are Asian, black, Latino, Middle Eastern, female, Muslim, gay, trans, or a combination of some, we will provide you with a therapist who can understand, empathize, and effectively provide you with the care you need.