'It's been quite a poor show' - exploring whether practitioners working for Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services are culturally competent to deal with the needs of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities

Afsana Faheem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (SciVal)

Abstract

Cultural competency is a core clinical skill. Yet, psychological therapists may be inadequately trained to deal with the needs of service users from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds. This can lead to dissatisfaction with mental health services, disengagement from therapy, and poorer treatment outcomes when compared to the White British population. The aim of this study was to explore whether practitioners working for Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services are culturally competent to deal with the needs of diverse communities. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with a range of practitioners, from early career psychological wellbeing practitioners (PWPs) to senior cognitive behavioural therapists (n=16). Reflexive thematic analysis (RTA) was used to analyse the data, guided by a six-phase process to produce a robust pattern-based analysis. Overall, three themes were generated: (1) encountering cultural dissonance within therapy; (2) challenges in making cultural adaptations to therapy; and (3) identifying cultural competency needs. Out of sixteen participants, only nine therapists received one-day formal training throughout their therapeutic career, whilst seven reported receiving no cultural competence training at all. Overall, it appears that there is an urgent need and desire for therapists to be offered cultural competency training so that they can better serve BAME communities. Clinical implications and future recommendations are made. Key learning aims (1) To briefly introduce cross-cultural theoretical models that may assist mental health professionals to think critically about Western notions of therapy and whether they are suited to the needs of ethnic minority communities. (2) To consider challenges IAPT practitioners encounter during therapy and identify examples of good practice. (3) To explore to what extent IAPT practitioners feel culturally competent to deal with the needs of BAME communities. (4) To encourage IAPT services and decision makers (e.g. training bodies and commissioners) to enhance cultural competence training so that practitioners can better serve ethnic minority communities.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere6
JournalCognitive Behaviour Therapist
Volume16
Issue number5
Early online date27 Feb 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

This study conducted as part of a fully funded doctoral research programme at Birmingham City University. The author would like to acknowledge and thank the supervisory team for their guidance during the course of studies and Dr Kate Cooper (University of Bath) for her expertise during the review of the study themes.

Data availability statement. The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

Keywords

  • Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME)
  • Black
  • common mental health disorders
  • cultural competence
  • Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT)
  • mental health
  • psychotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology

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