Multiple Minority Identities
Multiple Minority Identities: Applications for Practice, Research and Training, edited by Reginald Nettles and Rochelle Balter, Springer Publishing Company, New York, 2012, 280 pages, including 2 appendices and index, $70.
Multiple Minority Identities explores how professionals interact with clients who identify with more than one minority status. The volume focuses specifically on therapists’ interactions with clients who identify as LGBTQ , as persons with a disability, and/or as an ethnic minority (to utilize the language of the authors).
The book is divided into three sections. The first section focuses on research conducted about the impact of multiple minority identity. Beginning with a chapter about the development of theories of stigma, additional chapters highlight discussions of mental health issues for those who identify with more than one minority group and the clinical implications for this group. The book includes a chapter detailing issues to consider if a client is both deaf and has one of the other minority statuses described above.
The second section focuses on practice interventions. Chapters provide historical information and clinical applications for therapists working in group psychotherapy, as well as those utilizing cognitive-behavioral, psychodynamic, and positive psychology frameworks in practice. Case studies illustrate the concepts advanced within each chapter.
The third section focuses on training those who will serve clients with multiple minority identities. Chapters outline techniques for therapists utilizing psychodynamic or group relations perspectives. In addition, a chapter emphasizes the need for in-depth and thoughtful diversity training. The final chapter outlines “next steps” for professionals.
All chapters encourage helping professionals to explore all aspects of a client’s identity, being careful to listen for the client’s self understanding of each identity without assuming that one identity takes precedence over another. Several writers emphasize the need for therapists to explore how each identity provides resilience or creates pain for the client: for example, exploring the intersectionality of issues for a gay Hispanic man with a European partner.
Each chapter begins with a set of learning objectives for the chapter and concludes with a set of review questions. In that respect, the volume appears to be student focused rather than professionally focused. In addition, all the authors are psychologists, so case examples often are provided from within the clinical boundaries of psychology rather from the perspective of clinical social workers.
The profession of social work celebrates diversity and trains students at both the BSW and MSW levels toward cultural intelligence. The need for workers to be willing to engage clients as whole persons rather than focusing only on particular aspects or parts of who they are is a critical skill for social workers. This book provides a brief overview of research regarding the specific therapeutic modalities mentioned above and up-to-date information as to how these specific modalities can be used by psychologists in therapy. In addition, it emphasizes the need for clinicians to be competent to assist those who have multiple minority identities.
For master’s level students, or those social workers new to the field, the book can be useful to both strengthen understanding and to utilize sound practice when working with those who identify as multiple minorities.
Reviewed by Jane Hoyt-Oliver, ACSW, LISW-Supv., Ph.D., Chair, Social Work Program, Malone University, Canton, OH.