Clinical Social Work Journal

, 37:277 | Cite as

Ethnoracial Gap in Clinical Practice with Latinos

  • Frank F. Montalvo
Original Paper


People of color drop out of mental health treatment after the first session significantly more often than others. Social workers unfamiliar with the importance of race and ethnicity in the lives of Latinos can contribute to an ethnoracial gap in clinical practice. Implicit racial bias is presented as a key element contributing to the gap. The origin of phenotypes in Mexico and Puerto Rico prepared Latinos to cope with discrimination and colorism in United States. The influence of skin color on life chances, the acculturation–assimilation process, and psychological well-being are analyzed to identify problems in social adaptation and integration into American society. The critical incident interview is introduced to aid clinicians to assess key events in client’s experience with race and ethnicity. Examples of critical incidents are provided. The author offers training goals to reduce practitioners’ implicit racial bias and improve their estimates of phenotype. Five recommendation are made to improve practice with Latinos concerning psychosocial problems related to phenotype.


Latinos Phenotype discrimination Implicit skin color bias Colorism in family Psychosocial adjustment Acculturation–assimilation Clinical practice Training Research 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Professor Emeritus, Worden School of Social ServiceOur Lady of the Lake University of San AntonioSan AntonioUSA
  2. 2.San AntonioUSA

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