Contemporary Family Therapy

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 31–47

Engaging African Americans in Therapy: Integrating a Public Policy and Family Therapy Perspective

Original Paper


The field of marriage and family therapy faces a growing imperative to reach historically underserved populations. African Americans are a prime example of a minority group in the United States that continues to be underserved by the current mental health system. We integrate Andersen’s (1995, Journal of Health and Social behavior, 36, 1–10) public policy model of health service use with Fox et al. (1995, Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, 6, 434–468) revision of the rural de facto mental health services model (Regier and Goldberg, 1978, Archives of General Psychiatry, 35, 685–693) to develop a more inclusive and culturally sensitive framework that captures salient factors influencing African Americans’ entry into and engagement in therapy. Recommendations for overcoming barriers and suggestions for future research are presented.


Engagement Public policy and family therapy Racial and ethnic mental health disparities 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Programs in Couple and Family TherapyDrexel UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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