Culturally Diverse Counseling: Theory and Practice


Elsie Jones-Smith

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    I wish to dedicate this book to Eli John Jones, my older brother, and to my son, Travis Smith. Both of you have helped make my life worth living. I treasure the moments that we have spent together. In quiet times, I watch cherished reruns in the cinematography of my mind and heart of the times we spent talking with, being with, and just loving each other. I am so grateful that God placed you in my life.


    Life is all about change and learning how to respond appropriately to unfolding change not only in our individual lives, but also in the professions for which we have trained—for example, psychology, counseling, and the helping professions in general. Change comes whether we like it or not, and trying to stop change is like trying to stop the rain from falling. In many respects, this book, Culturally Diverse Counseling: Theory and Practice, is about the change that has taken place, about how we conceptualize diversity, and about how we go about counseling individuals who are culturally different from and similar to us.

    Since its early inception during the late 1960s and early 1970s, multicultural counseling has changed. The field has evolved from simply exhorting people to become aware of the influence of culture on a person’s views about mental health and problems to the relatively new branch called cultural neuroscience and cultural genetics. For example, research studies on cultural neuroscience have revealed that there are cultural connections in the neural pathways of our brains. Culture is locked into our very brains (Azar, 2010; Cheung, van de Vijver, & Leong, 2011; Chiao & Blizinsky, 2010; Chiao et al., 2008; Lu & Gilmour, 2004).

    Researchers have begun to find hard scientific evidence that one’s culture interacts with one’s brain to form what have been labeled “culture” genes (Boyd & Richerson, 1983, 2005; Davies, 2013). Human behavior is the product of two different and interacting evolutionary processes (culture and biology/genes). Human genes and culture interact in a feedback loop such that changes in culture can lead to changes in one’s genes and vice versa (Boyd & Richerson, 2005). As Goldman (2014) has asserted, “It no longer makes sense to think of genetics and culture as two separate uninteracting monoliths. The difficulty is identifying how and if one is influencing the other.”

    Guiding Principles of this Book

    Culturally Diverse Counseling emphasizes consolidating what is already known about culturally diverse counseling and then moving forward with the new developments in neuroscience and “culture” genes as well as in the areas of implicit and explicit bias, microaggressions, and the Cultural Formulation Interview. Moreover, this book highlights the relatively recent developments in positive psychology and strengths-based counseling, especially as these areas relate to counseling culturally diverse individuals. It is a book about adapting to change in the field of multicultural counseling—change in our knowledge base about cultures, the human brain, and our mental health.

    Goals of the Book

    Counseling, psychology, and social work have all called for culturally responsive ways of working with people from diverse cultural backgrounds (Hoshmand, 2006; Pedersen, Lonner, Draguns, Trimble, & Scharrón del Rio, 2016; Ponterotto, Casas, Suzuki, & Alexander, 2010; Ridley, 2005; Saleebey, 2002). This book integrates two approaches to psychotherapy: (1) culturally responsive therapy and (2) strengths-based therapy. Culturally responsive strengths-based therapy traces its historical roots to the multicultural movement, the positive psychology movement in psychology, the strengths perspective in social work (Saleebey, 2002), and the author’s own theory of strengths-based therapy (Jones-Smith, 2014).

    Culturally responsive counseling may be defined as therapy that understands the interaction of a client’s presenting problem/issue and his or her culture; it refers to a therapist’s ability to recognize the cultural influences not only on a client’s presenting problems, but also on the counseling relationship.

    The strengths-based therapy model is based on the premise that people have a basic need to find some kind of strength within themselves. Finding one’s strengths can be compared to finding one’s purpose in life; it is self-affirming and gives a person some measure of self-esteem. Strengths are inevitably defined and developed within a cultural context. Each culture establishes a cultural valence for the value of specific behaviors and strengths. Therefore, different ethnic and cultural groups will have their own worldview on what their group’s cultural strengths are and how to use such strengths in their interactions with the world. One benefit of strengths-based therapy (Jones-Smith, 2014) is that it contains definitive phases and therapeutic interventions.

    Promoting human strengths has been an important part of multicultural literature, especially in counseling psychology and social work (Gelso & Woodhouse, 2003; Georges & Tomlinson-Clarke, 2015; Owens, Magyar-Moe, & Lopez, 2015). This author predicts that as new studies confirm and reveal what happens in the brain of a person when one emphasizes deficits as opposed to strengths, more counseling theories will adopt a strengths-based focus.

    Discussing a client’s strengths can be a curative factor in and of itself. A person’s strengths have been found to be a crucial component of reducing mental distress (Lampropoulous, 2001). Fredrickson’s (1998) research has shown that the positive emotions often associated with strengths can function to undo negative emotions. Other studies have reported that focusing on clients’ strengths can improve individuals’ quality of life and can prevent or serve as a buffer to mental illness—especially acting as a buffer to depression (Seligman, 2002; Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000; Seligman, Schulman, DeRubeis, & Hollon, 1999). A therapist’s focus on clients’ strengths rather than on their deficits has been found to increase their resilience (Scales, Benson, Leffert, & Blyth, 2000). Human strengths have been portrayed as the building blocks of positive human functioning (Harbin, Gelso, & Perez Rojas, 2013; Owens et al., 2015).

    This book, Culturally Diverse Counseling, highlights accomplishing six major goals.

    Goal 1: Focus on culturally responsive therapy skill development. For the most part, books on multicultural or cross-cultural counseling have not stressed cultural skill development, the third building block in the American Psychological Association’s multicultural competencies. Instead, they have tended to stress development of cultural awareness and cultural knowledge. In contrast, this book emphasizes the three components of multicultural competencies—cultural awareness, cultural knowledge, and cultural skill development. As Toporek (2012) has pointed out, most counseling training programs rely on one course to provide the bulk of multicultural training and struggle with a patchwork of multicultural training, which focuses primarily on increasing students’ cultural awareness. Cultural awareness is at best a starting point, and not an end destination, in therapy. The emphasis on increasing students’ cultural awareness has resulted in giving minimal attention to clinical skill building in multicultural counseling (Priester et al., 2008; Tomlinson-Clarke & Georges, 2014). This book contains more than 25 culturally responsive clinical skill development exercises. After receiving instruction in using this book, students will be able to counsel individuals who are culturally different from themselves.

    Goal 2: Focus on clients’ strengths. Another major goal of this book is to focus on clients’ strengths, especially their individual and cultural strengths. The basic strength of any group of people stems from their shared experiences of historical and cultural continuity. That is, the strengths of African Americans, Germans, Asians, Italians, and so forth are to be found in their participation as members of a distinct cultural group. This book maintains that clients’ strengths—rather than their weaknesses—will form the primary reservoir to combat the challenges they face. As Weick and Chamberlain (2002) once said, “Strengths are all we have to work with” in therapy (p. 95). Culturally responsive strengths-based therapy is based on the premise that what we focus on in life and in therapy materializes in our lives. Emphasizing a person’s strengths provides a positive source of motivation to deal with his or her life issues.

    Goal 3: Focus on the interaction between culture, neuroscience, and the brain. A third major goal of this book is to focus on current developments in the field involving studies of culture, neuroscience, and the brain. Culture pervades all aspects of a person’s function. An individual constructs himself or herself within the backdrop of culture. As Llorente (2010) has stated,

    Most recently, it appears that our brains and culture are interwoven by biological mechanisms, and humans may actually possess “culture” genes that mediate a complex interaction between biology and the environment, providing an interactive mechanism capable of allowing human brains to assimilate cultural characteristics. (p. xi)

    Studies in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) have helped researchers to understand just how deep culture penetrates a person’s entire being (Chiao & Blizinsky, 2010; Chiao et al., 2008; Freeman, Rule, Adams, & Ambady, 2009; Goh et al., 2010; Hedden, Aron, Markus, & Gabrieli, 2008).

    Researchers conducting brain research have found that culture can influence how people experience the world at the most basic levels, such as what they see when they look at a city street or how they perceive a simple line in a square (Hedden et al., 2008). For instance, it has been found that Western culture conditions people to think of themselves as highly independent entities. Hence, when looking at scenes in their environment, they tend to focus on central objects more than on their surroundings. Quite the opposite is true for people from East Asian cultures that stress interdependence. Hedden and his colleagues (2008) conducted an experiment that involved two tasks. In the first task, participants looked at a line simply to estimate its length—a task that emphasizes American strengths. In the second task, participants were asked to estimate the line’s length relative to the size of a square—an easier task for Asians whose culture emphasizes contextual clues.

    Hedden et al. (2008) showed that deeply ingrained ways of thinking affect the brains of East Asians and Americans, even as they perform simple tasks that involve estimating the length of a line. In each group, activation in frontal and parietal brain regions known to be associated with attentional control was greater when participants engaged in culturally preferred judgments (e.g., American cultural strength—judging the length of a line; East Asian strength—judging the length of a line against context, a square). The authors concluded that “the cultural background of an individual and the degree to which the individual endorses cultural values moderate activation in brain networks engaged during even simple visual and attentional tasks” (p. 12). Brain findings may help people to become more aware of deep cultural differences that are so basic that people don’t even see them.

    Moreover, culture affects what a therapist and client give attention to during therapy. Culturally responsive counseling helps clients to make connections in their brains and to engage in, where necessary, the modification of old neural pathways and the creation of new ones. A therapist’s knowledge of neuroscience provides the potentiality of promoting a therapeutic alliance and increasing therapy engagement as a therapist takes into consideration the creation of therapist–client mirror neurons developed during therapy (Jones-Smith, 2014). A therapist’s belief in clients’ ability to change unproductive and self-defeating behaviors is buttressed by his or her knowledge of the role that neuroplasticity plays in helping clients recover from trauma and other challenges in life.

    Goal 4: The Cultural Formulation Interview and culturally responsive case conceptualization. A fourth goal of this book is to present the Cultural Formulation Interview from the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5; American Psychiatric Association, 2013b) and to demonstrate how it might be used in working with culturally diverse clients. To this end, I expand upon the 16 questions provided in the Cultural Formulation Interview. For instance, I present culturally responsive clinical skill development exercises to help the counselor understand his or her client’s acculturation and migration as well as clinical skill exercises regarding how to organize a cultural genogram and a family’s strength genogram.

    Chapter 7 presents a case conceptualization format for conducting culturally responsive counseling. Culturally responsive strengths-based case conceptualization refers to the extent to which therapists identify and integrate cultural factors into their conceptualization regarding the etiology and treatment of a client’s presenting concerns (Constantine, 2001; Constantine & Ladany, 2000; Lee, Sheridan, Rosen, & Jones, 2013; Owens et al., 2015). In this section of the book, I develop an outline for culturally responsive interviewing and case conceptualization. Diagnosis alone of a mental disorder is insufficient. This section offers clinical questions therapists can use in both case conceptualization and the therapeutic interview. A brief section is included on cultural syndromes and case conceptualization.

    Goal 5: Cultural strengths of major cultural and ethnic groups. All cultures have strengths. This book presents cases involving members of minority cultural groups within American society (i.e., African Americans, Asian Americans, Latino Americans, the LGBTQ population, and those experiencing disabilities). Over 30 case vignettes are presented throughout this book. Each chapter on a specific ethnocultural group examines the strengths of that particular group.

    Goal 6: Focus on resiliency and social justice. A sixth goal of Culturally Diverse Counseling is that it emphasizes counselors working toward the goal of social justice. The book does not concentrate on the issue of oppression. While it acknowledges racism, ethnocentrism, and other methods of social injustice, this book adopts the view that people are not their circumstances and that they are resilient. Racism, ethnocentrism, and oppression are conceptualized as roadblocks over which clients are helped to jump. Moreover, in the United States, the focus on race and ethnicity, whether intended or not, has sometimes resulted in finger pointing and blaming of the dominant White majority group. This book is not about finger pointing and placing blame on various ethnic groups, even though history itself may provide sufficient ground for such finger pointing. Each chapter on a specific ethnocultural group deals with the issue of microaggressions toward that group.

    Outline/Organization of the Book

    This book is organized into four distinct parts. Part I provides foundational knowledge, and it includes Chapters 1 through 3. Chapter 1 is foundational in that it provides a general blueprint of what is involved in becoming a culturally competent helping professional. The chapter highlights key multicultural issues and concepts. Subsequent chapters describe in more detail the concepts under consideration. Chapter 1 maintains that becoming a culturally competent practitioner involves (1) learning the history of the multicultural movement—what issues sparked its development and continue to sustain its development, as well as the global impact of migration and shifting cultural populations; (2) learning the language, key terms, and concepts of multiculturalism—therefore, a rather substantial section of Chapter 1 defines and explains these terms and concepts; (3) understanding the various helping professions’ guidelines for culturally appropriate planning and treatment—therefore, brief sections are presented on the multicultural competencies and ethical multicultural issues; and (4) acquiring the clinical skills of cultural awareness, cultural humility, and cultural empathy, as well as other skills.

    In Chapter 1, I examine basic concepts in traditional multicultural psychotherapy, such as worldview, cultural awareness, Eurocentric psychology, cultural encapsulation, race as a social construction, ethnic group, and ethnocentrism. Information on neuroscience (Losin, Dapretto, & Iacoboni, 2010), the brain, and the invisible neural barrier of ethnic/racial bias is also presented (Amodio, 2014; Amodio et al., 2004; Amodio & Ratner, 2011; Baron & Banaji, 2006; Greenwald & Krieger, 2006; Greenwald, Poehlman, Uhlmann, & Banaji, 2009). Chapter 1 raises the question: Do the concepts of implicit and explicit bias form the new paradigm for examining racial and cultural prejudice? Chapter 1 contains six culturally responsive skill development exercises focusing on cultural awareness, understanding the impact of one’s culture, and understanding one’s worldview. A culturally competent awareness checklist for mental health workers is also presented. In addition, Chapter 1 contains three case vignettes with discussion questions.

    Similar to Chapter 1, both Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 are foundational. Chapter 2 addresses cultural meaning systems, cultural trust, and cultural humility. The author’s tripartite model of ethnic identity is presented. Some of the topics included in Chapter 2 are cultural countertransference, cultural intelligence, cultural identity development, and ethnicity as schema. Consideration is also given to the positive effects of an ethnic/cultural identity (Lu & Gilmour, 2004). Discussion is presented on the topics of assimilation, marginalization, acculturation, and acculturative stress. Several culturally responsive clinical skill developments are provided in the areas of cultural humility and cultural empathy, and levels of culturally competent therapist response.

    Chapter 3 examines neuroscience, multiple cultural identities, and cultural strengths. The chapter begins with the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) Standards and their endorsement of neuroscience as a major area of study and expertise for counselors. Basic foundational concepts in neuroscience are presented, such as a review of the brain as a social organ, neurons, neurotransmitters, neuroplasticity, and mind.

    Cultural identity is reviewed, and the cultural identity questions contained in the Cultural Formulation Interview (American Psychiatric Association, 2013a) are discussed. Information is presented on the negativity bias of the brain, and the question is raised: Is the brain hardwired to see the glass half empty or half full? Both mental health and counseling are viewed from a neuroscience perspective. The chapter presents research evidence that psychotherapy can change a person’s brain. The importance of mirror neurons firing during counseling is addressed. An important theme of Chapter 3 is that each one of us has multiple cultural identities—for instance, as Asian American or White American, male or female, gay or straight, young or old, and so forth. Three case vignettes are presented to illustrate how concepts from neuroscience might be used in counseling.

    Part II of this book deals with culturally responsive strengths-based clinical practice, and it includes Chapters 4 and 5. Chapter 4 deals with strengths development and culture. It begins with a definition of strength, and then it proceeds to consider the characteristics of strengths and the nature of culturally bound strengths. A brief section is presented on the neurobiology of human strengths development. In part, strengths are defined as well-traveled pathways in the brain.

    Chapter 4 also considers the relational components of strengths development. It makes the point that a person’s development of recognized strengths is based on the existence of a trusting human relationship, usually but not always begun early in life. The people who are close to us nourish and help us to develop our strengths. Chapter 4 traces the development of human strengths to a person’s early attachment relationships; therefore, a brief section is presented on Bowlby’s (1988) theory of attachment as the foundation for understanding individual strengths development. Strengths development is also characterized as dialogic conversations with the self. A section compares Western and Eastern views on human strengths, with an emphasis on American and Chinese outlooks on strengths. A brief case vignette is analyzed for a woman who may be experiencing the brain’s negativity bias in that she has a tendency to notice what’s missing rather than what is in front of her. Four culturally responsive clinical skill development exercises are presented.

    Chapter 5 begins with a discussion of the neurocultural dynamics of cultural consonance and cultural dissonance. The bulk of this chapter deals with a summary of the revised strengths-based therapy model. Emphasis is placed on examining strengths-based therapy and the law of neuroplasticity. The power of cultural beliefs is discussed. In addition, Chapter 5 discusses strengths-based counseling and clients’ self-limiting beliefs. A strengths-based client bill of rights for treatment is proffered. Phases of culturally responsive strengths-based counseling are reviewed, and the chapter deals with strengths-based concepts found in Chinese culture (mindfulness and the concept of surrendering) and in Hindu culture (setting a strengths-based intention).

    Chapter 5 presents SWOB (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and barriers) analysis, and clinical skill development exercises are offered on strengths talk counselors can use with their client, as well as helping counselors to set counselor intentions for counseling. Chapter 5 also examines strengths-based culturally responsive competencies for therapists. It deals with such issues as strengths assessment for therapists.

    Part III of Culturally Diverse Counseling involves Chapters 6 and 7. Chapter 6 addresses culturally responsive assessment and the Cultural Formulation Interview in detail. It begins with a general discussion of assessment principles in counseling and psychotherapy. It deals with topics such as cultural bias in assessment, models of assessment for culturally responsive counseling, and fear, the human brain, and clinical assessment. A number of culturally responsive clinical exercises and tables are presented in Chapter 6, including assessing differences in client/clinician communication styles, using the Culturally Responsive Intake Checklist, and learning how to listen for culture in a client’s story.

    A dominant theme in Chapter 6 is that culture is, as Llorente (2010) has stated, “not something to be sprinkled upon our diagnostic considerations, theoretical formulations, clinical impressions or neuropsychological inferences, as if it were of secondary importance or an afterthought, as realism might have been to the impressionistic movement. Culture should not be an afterthought because culture is in our brains. . . . Culture is to brain what color is to light on the canvas, of the impressionists” (p. xi).

    Chapter 6 contains an examination of the DSM-5 and culturally relevant V codes, as well as a discussion of the criticisms and limitations of the Cultural Formulation Interview. Culture-bound syndromes are reviewed, and additional assessment tools are discussed, such as cultural genograms. Clinical exercises are offered on ways to ask strength questions about overcoming adversities, ways to ask questions about family strengths, and ways to ask questions about the strengths of friends.

    Chapter 7 highlights culturally responsive case conceptualization and treatment planning. It examines what happens when clinicians are biased against their clients, the overdiagnosing of people of color—that is, seeing greater pathology than there is in a client. In addition, this chapter reviews basic principles of case conceptualization, diagnosis, and revisions in the DSM-5. This chapter contains seven culturally responsive clinical skill development exercises that expand on the Cultural Formulation Interview. Three case vignettes are provided in this chapter, including the cases of a woman of German descent, a Haitian woman experiencing psychosocial issues, and Mario, a Puerto Rican male who needs strengths-based counseling. Chapter 7 also contains seven strengths-based therapy techniques such as the strengths journal, the “What is the truth?” question, the Oracle, the gratitude journal, and so forth.

    Part IV of Culturally Diverse Counseling consists of 12 chapters on various ethnocultural groups—African Americans (Chapter 8); American Indians and Alaska Natives (Chapter 9); Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (Chapter 10); Hispanic and Latino/a Americans (Chapter 11); Arab and Muslim Americans (Chapter 12); White Americans of European ancestry (Chapter 13); women (Chapter 14); LGBTQ individuals (Chapter 15); individuals with disabilities (Chapter 16); older adults (Chapter 17); immigrants and refugees (Chapter 18); and multiracial/multiethnic individuals (Chapter 19)—as well as one on social class, social justice, and privilege (Chapter 20).

    Although the above chapters vary based on the unique historical situations of the ethnocultural groups involved, they also share certain similarities. Each chapter begins with an introduction to the ethnocultural group, followed by a basic demographic description that emphasizes the group’s population numbers and its present socioeconomic status. Chapters 819 also provide information about the group’s worldviews, cultural values, and family dynamics; microaggressions against the group; and the group’s strengths, mental health, and counseling issues.

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    In making my acknowledgments to SAGE Publications and to the people who have supported my efforts in writing this book, it is fitting to point out the symbolism of the three feathers on the cover of this book. Throughout different cultures within the world, feathers have traditionally been used to represent symbolically achievement, courage, and spiritual ascension. Beginning in Greek mythology, Icarus tried to escape prison by attaching feathered wings to his shoulders with wax, which was melted by the sun. The Egyptians believed that feathers were a symbol of the gods.

    In American Indian culture, a feather symbolizes trust, honor, strength, wisdom, power, and freedom. For an American Indian to be given a feather denotes that one has been chosen from the rest of the people in the tribe. The most prized feather is that of an eagle because eagles fly so very high in the sky. The American Indian cultural belief is that feathers are meant to be displayed. Once an American Indian is given a feather, he must take care of it and display it in his home, rather than hide it away in a drawer or a closet.

    It is noteworthy that the Culturally Diverse Counseling book has three feathers of different colors, not only symbolizing the diversity of the world, but also denoting the movement forward of multicultural counseling and theory to a higher and broader plan—one that includes connecting the field with developments in cultural neuroscience, the brain, and culture genes.

    On a personal level, the feathers on the Culturally Diverse Counseling book represent my years of conducting research on culturally diverse populations. Like the Indian warrior who gets a feather because of some brave deed he has done, this book brings everything that I wanted to do in the field of multicultural counseling full circle for me. When I first began writing about culturally responsive counseling, I mainly wanted to create an awareness of the importance of culture in counseling. I am now in a position to assess where the field of multicultural counseling began with its early scholars and where it is now headed.

    My views on multicultural counseling have changed. Culture is not just something that we sprinkle onto our theories of counseling and assessment as if it is some sort of condiment; nor can we tack it onto theories that were not designed to take into account other individuals’ culture. What I have learned about culture over the years is that it has a much more profound and meaningful influence than I originally thought. Culture is located in the neural pathways of our brains. Culture is similar to biology in that both engage a coevolutionary process. That is, culture evolves, much in the same way that human beings have evolved in their gene development. When we work with clients, we need to take into consideration how their cultures have evolved and what impact their cultural evolutionary process has had on their clients’ thinking and behavior.

    Just as American Indian culture maintains that feathers should be displayed rather than tucked away in a drawer, I am hoping that students will prominently display the Culturally Diverse Counseling book in their personal libraries, use it to prepare for the licensing examinations, and take it out every now and then for consultation when they are faced with questions about multicultural counseling. If there are any feathers to be gained for writing this book, I hope they will stand for my having moved the field of multicultural counseling forward conceptually into the realm of cultural neuroscience and clinical skill development.

    Very few accomplishments in life are ever accomplished through the efforts of one person alone, and such is the case in writing this book. My deepest gratitude goes to Abbie Rickard for her tireless editing of the chapters and her suggestions for improving the book. Thanks also is extended to Nathan Davidson, who worked on the middle drafts of this book, and to Kassie Graves, the acquisition editor who signed me to write this book. Additional thanks are extended to Jennifer Cline, Alissa Nance, Elizabeth Cruz, Emma Newsom, Bennie Clark Allen, and Alexa Turner. I also want to thank my reviewers who made helpful suggestions for each chapter.

    • Dr. Mary Olufunmilayo Adekson, St. Bonaventure University
    • Jessica Reno Burkholder, Monmouth University
    • Tomasina L. Cook, Niagara University
    • Teah L. Moore, Fort Valley State University
    • Julie K. West Russo, Trinity International University
    • John C. Wade, Emporia State University
    • Dr. Nicole S. Warren, University of Pennsylvania
    • Cirecie A. West-Olatunji, Xavier University of Louisiana

    In addition, I am grateful for the continued encouragement and support of my cousin, Willie Ella Hones-Ladner who throughout the years has shown that she believes in me and in my ability, and my two close friends, Carolyn Phillips and Barbara Hughes, who have stood lovingly by my side. In addition, I wish to thank Mary Joyce Jones-Lawrence, who opened her home to me during my travels and who also supported my books. I deeply appreciate the loving encouragement of my son, Travis Smith, for me to continue writing.

    Finally, I thank my God and the Holy Spirit for helping me to write the 20 chapters contained in this book. Without the continual presence of God in my life, this book may have never been written. I know on a personal level that He never leaves me, that I can do all things with His strength, and that whatever happens in my life, He always finds a way to make it turn out for my good.

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    About the Author

    Elsie Jones-Smith is a clinical psychologist, a licensed psychologist, a counselor educator, and the president of the Strengths-Based Institute, which provides consultation to schools and organizations dealing with youth experiencing challenges with violence, lack of a sense of purpose, and drug addiction. She is the developer of two theories in psychology: strengths-based therapy (SBT) and ethnic identity development; an article about this theory was featured as a major contribution to psychological research by The Counseling Psychologist in 1985. She is a member of the American Academy of Counseling Psychology, and a fellow in two divisions of the American Psychological Association, including Division 17 Counseling Psychology. She holds dual PhDs in clinical psychology and counselor education. She is the author of Strengths-Based Therapy: Connecting Theory, Practice, and Skills; Spotlighting the Strengths of Every Single Student; and Nurturing Nonviolent Children. Previously a professor at Temple University, Michigan State University, and Boston University, she has served on numerous editorial boards.

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