Religious Help-Seeking Among African-American Christians. The Author Article Review

Length: 2 pages Subject: Psychology Type: Article Review Paper: #41396443 Related Topics: Pastoral Care, African American Studies, Christian, African American
Excerpt from Article Review :

¶ … religious help-seeking among African-American Christians. The author writes from the perspective of someone who is seeking to increase participation among this demographic in non-religious mental health seeking, and notes that the historical tendency among the demographic is to turn to their churches for "financial, social justice and mental health needs." The churches are poorly-equipped to deal with genuine mental health issues, so this exploration serves the purpose of helping the mental health community to understand how to attract more religious African-Americans to non-religious mental health care.

The paper first examines how and why African-Americans have come to see the church in this role. This initial section has some logical weaknesses, however. The author notes that "religious help-seeking…is a viable option" and that "the effectiveness of counseling provided by pastors appears to be at least comparable to that received by clients of secular mental health professionals," citing "a greater sense of satisfaction experienced." The problem with this logic is that satisfaction is not an accepted measure of mental health care effectiveness. Furthermore, the author later admits that "little is known about the specific issues for which African-American Christians would formally seek help in times of distress." In other words, the author has no idea what people are seeking help for, and is not using accepted success measures, yet has no problem arriving at a clear-cut conclusion with regards to the efficacy of religious mental health services. Such a glaring logical fallacy is not surprising from a religious publication, but it does undermine the author's credibility as a scholar.

Applicants were self-selecting, by way of survey cards, which is poor sampling. The study author of course needs to have the survey respondents have actual experience with this issue and there is nothing in the sampling that guarantees this. Still, the paper overall is about perceptions more than anything else. The author hinted earlier in the paper that one of the benefits of church-based counselling was its low cost, so it is predictable that pastoral counsel was most popular for issues that, while serious, are not mental health issues where a professional would be required. For those issues, the author identified a trend "towards complementary use of religious and professional help-seeking." One methodological issue is that only a couple of the questions asked were about genuine mental health issues (the ones about depression...

...

Thus, while this paper could have some value, the poor sampling technique, the failure to adequately address the research question (respondents were never asked why, which was the most important part of the research problem), and the author being prone to logical fallacy all undermine the overall effectiveness of the paper.

In Counseling the Hispanic Client, Altaribba and Bauer (1998) seek to create a framework to be used when counseling Cuban-American, Mexican-American and Puerto Rican clients. Their underlying logic is that these cultures have unique attributes that need to be taken into account in counseling, not only from other cultures in American society, but that each major Hispanic culture is itself unique, both quite reasonable propositions that are easy to support.

While tangential, it is a fault of the paper that it wastes too much time rambling about the history of Hispanics in the U.S. -- 19th century treaties are not relevant, nor is the author's obsession with the Mariel boatlift. The authors waste a paragraph talking about language, their only citation being themselves. But needing an editor is not necessarily a major fault in an academic paper.

The paper picks up steam when it gets past these indulgences and focuses on the unique socioeconomic and educational characteristics of these communities, and their value orientations and family characteristics. Those are the key elements that go into the framework that the authors are seeking to build. Unfortunately, the end result is underwhelming. The authors' framework itself is reasonable, as it notes distinctions with respect to nature, time, activity and social relations. However, after killing untold trees discussing the history of each group at length, all three are then lumped in together in this framework as "Hispanics," running against the reality that this group is highly heterogeneous, something the authors admit in the first sentence of the paper. If they are heterogeneous, you cannot reach the…

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