Many mental health practitioners (MHPs) today recognize and affirm the importance of cultural background — race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality — in their clients' lives. But many MHPs also struggle to address cultural issues in practice, whether because of unfamiliarity, or fear of giving offense, or because cultural differences or similarities between client and therapist make it difficult to view the client objectively.

This book describes how therapists can combine multicultural theory with their own lived experience to meaningfully engage clients in issues of culture.

Hook, Davis, Owen, and DeBlaere recommend that MHPs focus not on what they have learned in previous clinical or educational settings but on what they don't know about the client who sits across from them. They discuss practical strategies for engaging with clients and their cultural identities, including repairing mistakes that threaten the therapeutic relationship.

Through a wide range of case examples and hands-on exercises, the authors demonstrate how therapists can learn to acknowledge their limitations, and view them as opportunities to connect with clients at a deeper level.

Table of Contents



I. Theoretical Foundation and Self-Awareness

  1. Multicultural Orientation
  2. Exploring Your Cultural Identity
  3. Working on Cultural Biases, Power, and Privilege

II. Cultural Humility in the Therapy Context

  1. Cultural Humility and the Process of Psychotherapy
  2. Strengthening the Working Alliance
  3. Repairing the Relationship After Cultural Ruptures
  4. Navigating Value Differences and Conflicts
  5. Working Within Your Limits
  6. Continuing the Journey of Cultural Humility



About the Authors

Author Bios

Joshua N. Hook, PhD, received his doctorate in counseling psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University. Currently, he is an associate professor of psychology at the University of North Texas, where he teaches the graduate multicultural counseling course. He is a licensed clinical psychologist in the state of Texas. His professional interests include humility, religion/spirituality, and multicultural counseling. In his free time, he enjoys blogging (Joshua Hook - Your Life to the Full), cheering on the Chicago Bears, and trying not to get injured doing CrossFit.

Don Davis, PhD, received his doctorate in counseling psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University. Currently, he is an assistant professor of counseling psychology and counselor education at Georgia State University. His professional interests include humility, forgiveness, and religion/spirituality. He teaches courses on group counseling as well as on measurement. He also teaches an advanced seminar on humility, drawing on contemplative spiritual practices in counseling. In his free time, he likes biking, complaining about the Georgia Tech football team, and playing with his two kids, Catherine (age 7) and Adam (age 3).

Jesse Owen, PhD, received his doctorate in counseling psychology from the University of Denver (DU) in 2005. He is currently an associate professor and chair of the counseling psychology department at DU. He worked at Gannon University and the University of Louisville prior to joining the faculty at DU. He is a licensed psychologist and has had a private practice at times over the past decade. His research focuses on psychotherapy processes and outcomes as well as romantic relationships. More specifically, his work in psychotherapy focuses on therapists' multicultural orientation and expertise. Personally, he enjoys outdoor activities and quality time with family and friends.

Cirleen DeBlaere, PhD, received her doctorate in counseling psychology from the University of Florida and is currently an assistant professor of counseling psychology at Georgia State University. Her professional interests include the identity and experiences of individuals with marginalized identities, particularly people with multiple marginalized identities (e.g., LGBTQ people of color, women of color), resilience, cultural humility, and multicultural counseling and supervision. She teaches graduate courses in multicultural issues, personality theory, and clinical supervision. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, watching classic episodes of The Golden Girls, and quality time with her beloved black lab, Maggie.

Reviews & Awards

As a whole, this is a well-organized and timely text. It includes the authors’ stories, current research, practical exercises, and case studies. The work is strongly recommended for collections in counseling and other helping professions that engage with diverse cultures.

The greatest strength of Cultural Humility is the inclusion of case studies in the concluding chapters and the case vignettes that are shared throughout the text. I found the case vignettes to be realistic and reflective of the complexity and challenge that often characterizes many of the exchanges between a client and clinician.

This work on cultural humility critiques and extends the concept of multicultural competence, and offers theoreticians and practitioners a different and perhaps more effective framework for carrying out meaningful therapy with a broad range of multicultural clients.
—William E. Cross, Jr., PhD
Past President, American Psychological Association Division 45, and author of Shades of Black

Presenting a compelling case for cultural humility, the authors bring the concept to life through writing that is personally engaging and through many examples, tools, and exercises. They provide readers with numerous opportunities to learn a culturally humble stance in treatment contexts. This is important reading for any counselor or psychotherapist and a great resource for faculty in graduate training programs.
—Rodney K. Goodyear, PhD
Professor and Chair, Department of Counseling and Human Services, University of Redlands, Redlands, CA; Emeritus Professor of Education (Counseling Psychology), University of Southern California, Los Angeles

As we move from cultural competence to cultural humility, this book provides useful frameworks for therapist self-reflection and for addressing clients' cultural identities in therapeutic work. Case examples, which include the authors' personal experiences, make the information practical and relevant. An excellent resource for multicultural training and practicum courses.
—Y. Barry Chung, PhD
Indiana University Bloomington