Psychologists of Color, Inc. seeks to increase the racial and ethnic diversity of the psychologist workforce. The mission of Psychologists of Color, Inc. is to increase the number of psychologists of color completing graduate school, becoming licensed, and successfully launching their careers. We offer targeted support services (including mentorship, support groups, academic tutoring, test preparation, and business coaching) to psychologists of color.
At its core, this non-profit is about racial justice and equality within the field of psychology.
As psychologists, we have been aware of the lack of racial/ethnic diversity within our professional community for some time. Though we have seen meaningful increases in the numbers of students of color entering graduate programs for psychology, we know that acceptance into graduate school is just the beginning of this complicated journey towards licensure and successful careers as psychologists.
The data from the past twenty years in the United States paints a clear picture; the field of psychology is severely lacking in racial and ethnic diversity. Over 80% of registered psychologists from 2000-2018 were White. The prevalence of Black and Asian psychologists has increased around two percent in the past two decades, while the prevalence of Hispanic psychologists has remained stagnant. Most recently in 2018,
White psychologists made up 84% Hispanic psychologists made up 6%, Black/psychologists made up 4%, Asian psychologists made up 4%, and other races only made up 2% of all licensed psychologists.
The American Psychological Association (APA) has shared information related to demographics with the field of psychology on their website: (https://www.apa.org/workforce/data-tools/demographics).
In contrast, the demographics of the general population as a whole demonstrate a larger presence of nonwhite races than what is represented in the makeup of registered psychologists. Currently, the US is comprised of approximately 62% white individuals, 17% Hispanic, 13% Black, 5% Asian, and 3% other races.
United States. population data came from the US. Census Bureau (https://www.census.gov).
The lack of culturally diverse psychologists in the mental health field has critical social implications. Language and culture barriers between client and therapist discourage BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) from seeking professional help, who often suffer from poor mental health outcomes due to discrimination, cultural stigma, inaccessibility to quality care services, and a lack of education about the importance of mental health. Consequently, BIPOC are extremely underrepresented in those who seek mental health services and support. Only one-third or less of African-Americans, Latinx-Americans, and Asian-Americans with mental disorders do so compared to their white counterparts, which suggests that many BIPOC who have mental health disorders go undiagnosed and untreated. The effects are detrimental.
The absence of racial/ethnic psychologists and culturally competent providers creates a therapeutic environment in which western values and ideologies are often held superior.Most psychological empirical studies that have been researched in the past decades were not inclusive to minority cultures, leaving out the lived experiences of those most marginalized. Consequently, culturally incompetent providers may view ethnic clients’ issues and challanges as trivial, resulting in microagressions and feelings of marginalization on the client’s end. It is also common for culturally incompetent providers to not tailer evidence-based treatments to be culturally relavent to minorities, decreasing the effectiveness of that treatment and further discouraging clients from seeking support. Lack of cultural understanding may also contribute to underdiagnosis and/or misdiagnosis of mental illness in people from racially/ethnically diverse populations.
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