Sunday, July 13, 2014

Latino Youth in America

Acculturative stress is the consequence of functioning within two cultural groups, which creates a dissonance because of the conflicting beliefs and attitudes within each group. Adolescents may be caught between two groups. For example, for Latino youth in America, stress may be the result of culture-related stress: acculturative stress, bicultural experiences, such as the difference between the adolescent's school and home life, and discrimination, all of which place the adolescent at a higher risk for substance abuse, domestic violence, and mental illness (Bridges, De Arelano, Rheingold, Danielson, & Silcott, 2010). In addition, the adolescent may struggle with participating within the American culture, which conflicts with his home life and his parents who want him to maintain their culture of origin and to maintain their cultural lifestyle, beliefs, and attitudes (Hays & Erford, 2010).

According to Lazarus (2006), stress is the result of the cognitive appraisal of a situation, and the extent to which the individual feels threatened and has the ability to influence the situation. Further, Lazarus (1991) believed the cognitive appraisal of a circumstance is a combination of mediating and moderating variables, which include the individual's cultural beliefs, attitudes, and lifestyle. For Latino youth, other variables may include low self-esteem, which can potentially alter the development of peer relationships, the inability to access resources, and facing discrimination.

                                              Stress Related Intervention
Cultural sensitivity must be central in any intervention, but especially when culture-related stress is an issue. Interventions should be flexible and address cultural values that pertain to religion, family values, and identity development, which is different in Latino youth than in non-Latino white adolescents (Hays & Erford, 2010). For these reasons, Cultural Adaptation of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) could be effective for this population. This intervention, like other forms of CBT teach how thoughts, activities, and interactions with other people, influence mood. It challenges negative thinking, and embraces the natural family support system, which is central in Latino culture (Duarté-Vélez, Bernal, & Bonilla, 2010).

The Influences of Personal Bias

Cultural adaptation for an intervention should be developed in such a way that "increase(s) the congruence between the client's experience of a treatment and the properties of the treatment assumed by the therapist" (Duarté-Vélez et al., 2010, p. 896). Psychology professionals must be aware of the cultural values of the adolescent and his family, since family is a primary cultural value in Latino culture and maintaining emotional closeness to parents is a cultural ideal (Duarté-Vélez et al., 2010). Certainly, the Euro-centric aspects of psychology do not serve a broad segment of populations (Sue & Sue, 2008). It would be important for any professional working in culturally sensitive environments to acknowledge the effects of his or her personal views and realize that those views are not necessarily neutral.


Bridges, A. J., de Arellano, M. A., Rheingold, A. A., Danielson, C., & Silcott, L. (2010). Trauma exposure, mental health, and service utilization rates among immigrant and United States-born Hispanic youth: Results from the Hispanic family study. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, And Policy, 2(1), 40-48. doi:10.1037/a0019021

Duarté-Vélez, Y., Bernal, G., & Bonilla, K. (2010). Culturally adapted cognitive-behavior therapy: integrating sexual, spiritual, and family identities in an evidence-based treatment of a depressed Latino adolescent. Journal Of Clinical Psychology, 66(8), 895-906.

Hays, D. G., & Erford, B. T. (2010). Developing multicultural counseling competence: A systems approach (Reprint ed.). Boston: Pearson.

Lazarus, R. S. (1991). Progress on a cognitive-motivational-relational theory of emotion. American Psychologist, 46(8), 819-834. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.46.8.819

Lazarus, R. S. (2006). Emotions and interpersonal relationships: Toward a person-centered conceptualization of emotions and coping. Journal of Personality, 74(1), 9-46. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6494.2005.00368.x

Sue, D. W., & Sue, D. (2008). Counseling the culturally diverse: Theory and practice (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

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