Recent Census statistics indicate that by 2043 the United States will be majority non-white. California already is a plural state where non-white, Latino and Asian groups are approaching a majority of its residents. APA statistics suggest that 90% of behavioral health professionals are Caucasian and they are aging out.

The socio, systemic and political implications of this imbalance, lack of diversity in the helping professions and increasing diversity in potential client population, will be explored. Participants will consider possible remedies to increasing access, training and research opportunities for non- white professionals which has been a stated commitment of professional schools and organizations but seemingly difficult to implement. The face of the professions must become more reflective of the people they serve.

This course will review the historical and current experiences of First Nation, African American, Latino, Asian, African and Middle Eastern communities residing in or arriving to the United States. There will be a contextual understanding of the assigned status of each group and how they are impacted by the political climate at any given time. Having an awareness of these communities’ realities may afford the clinician insight into the issues clients may present and validate their perspective.

The circumstances of immigrant vs refugee populations will be compared and contrasted as well as hierarchies of status, stereotyping, segregation and government policies toward these groups that have limited opportunity and power. From these discussions participants will cull issues that are common across groups i.e. trauma, displacement and those that may be unique, such as refugee circumstances where groups are targets of Western propaganda, aggression and are without a safe haven.

Participants will reflect upon how they can offer relevant, culturally sensitive services. What are existing theories relational, attachment, biological and / or approaches like EMDR, yoga, neurofeedback, psychodrama. What work does the clinician need to do on themselves and with their colleagues? What interventions may heal at the community, group, family and individual level? How do we keep our professions relevant and responsive in a plural America?
This course explores three intersecting areas of concern:

1. A lack of workforce diversity in the behavioral health professions (90% Caucasian) in the face of dramatically changing demographics of the US population that may be in need of our services. How do we better prepare ourselves and what competencies must we develop to relate to the realities of clients different from ourselves? How do we increase diversity in our professions?

2. How do we understand the lived experiences of diverse communities in the US and/or arriving to the US from a historic and current context? Can we appreciate, validate and engage across our differences?

What theoretical perspectives and effective interventions can we develop or apply that will assist in the healing process needed by so many? What personal/professional work must we undertake and what collaborations must we develop? How do we become advocates?

Dr. VeLora J Lilly has been in clinical practice for over 45 years as both a clinical social worker and psychologist. Dr. Lilly began her career in Chicago, Illinois , after graduating from Jane Addams Graduate School of Social Work, UCI, as the bilingual social worker at Childrens’ Memorial Hospital/Northwestern University. She then became the developer/director of Youth Guidance’s Roberto Clemente High School program. She served as field supervisor for University of Chicago and University of Illinois’ departments of Social Work.

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