Black Families & Mental Health


Smile Through the Pain: The Complexities of Narratives about Mental Health in the Black Community

The perception of mental health in the Black community is multifaceted. There are systemic challenges related to mental health that continue to stand as a barrier to receiving mental health services. Some of these barriers include accessibility of culturally competent providers, cost and/or lack of insurance to see a provider, and historical and present discriminatory practices by mental health professionals that heightened distrust of medical and even psychological communities.
Denise Williams, PhD

Culturally Informed Emotionally Focused Therapy with African American Couples

Approximately one-third of African American couples in the United States are married. However, research indicates this population tends to experience higher rate of divorce, martial dissatisfaction, and single-parent households, when compared to other racial groups. One may ask, what patterns are we seeing with African American couples that lead to relationship dissatisfaction and dissolution? However, the question must shift focus from problems of the population and look outward to the socioeconomic and psychological constructs imposed by American society.
Jennifer Young, MA, Eman Tadros, PhD, & Alexis Gregorash

Helping Black Women Heal Through a Womanist Mental Health and Healing Framework

What does mental well-being and healing look like for black women? How do we as clinicians support the mental health and healing of strong black women? I posture that a Womanist Mental Health and Healing Framework (Melton, 2022) can uniquely address these critical questions. Clinical psychologist Carmen B. Williams (2005) argues that “Womanism offers a model that addresses the simultaneity of cultural oppressions experienced by African American women. It is a model in which race, class, gender, and sexual orientation are understood as interactive, not fragmented, in women’s lives.”
Melanie Melton, MA

Special to This Issue

Creating Systemic Change Through a Social Justice Lens: Steps to Make Impactful Changes

Social justice is an evolving topic in marriage and family therapy (MFT) as the profession seeks to create this outcome in their clients’ lives and the systems in which they work. Many feel that creating systemic change is our work’s goal and responsibility.
M. Evan Thomas, PhD & Lauren Pittman, MMFT

Systemic World

On the Horizons: Barriers and Trends in the Development of Systemic Family Therapy in Africa

Systemic family therapists (SFTs), usually called marriage and family therapists (MFTs) in North America, are trained to conceptualize individual, couple, and family distress within the broader relational and diverse intersectional contexts in which people live.
Ronald Asiimwe, MS & Elmien Lesch, PhD


A Message from the President

One Size Doesn’t Always Fit All

I love my “one size fits all” accessories! Especially my oh, so very comfortable leggings, a staple of my virtual therapy wardrobe! This issue of the Family Therapy magazine (FTM) delves into a topic that may not be so comfortable for many, whether you’re a Black therapist who has experienced your own racial trauma in dealing with your clients, a White therapist who may struggle with or weigh your privilege and implicit or unconscious bias in dealing with your clients, or a therapist from another racial or ethnic group who has also suffered racial trauma and struggles to both relate and yet respect the obvious differences that exist with Black clients/families.
Silvia Kaminsky, MSEd


Culturally Informed Marriage and Family Therapy with the Chinese Population

In light of the growing recognition of the importance for marriage and family therapists (MFTs) to be sensitive to their clients’ cultural backgrounds and memberships, this article is intended to provide several culturally-informed clinical suggestions for therapists applying Western-based MFT theories, models, and concepts to the Chinese population.
Yinan Li & Huan Liu


Neurocriminology: A Call on Marriage and Family Therapists and Allied Disciplines to Become Informed

Neurocriminology is an interdisciplinary subfield of criminology that incorporates methodological approaches from neuroscience, physiology, genetics, biology, and psychology. The goal of neurocriminology is to better understand, predict, prevent, and treat criminal and violent behaviors.
Jerrod Brown, PhD

Ethics + Legal

Reasonable Suspicion – Probable Cause – Preponderance of the Evidence – Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

There are many evidentiary standards that have different roles and requirements in our legal system. The one with which practitioners are most familiar is, of course, the one associated both with duty to warn requirements and mandatory reports of child abuse or neglect: a reasonable belief of imminent harm/ reasonable belief that child abuse has occurred. But what does a “reasonable belief” really mean?

FTM is a connector to and from diverse family therapy practice, policy, supervision, and research leaders.

—Angela Lamson, PhD, LMFT

With cutting-edge and relevant articles, the FTM is the place I find practical systemic information.

—DeAnna Harris-McKoy, PhD

The magazine is great because it shows what other remarkable things my fellow colleagues are doing in the field.

—Sheldon Jacobs, PsyD, LMFT