The United States continues to grow in population, particularly among persons of minority. With the statistics in mind, it becomes all the more relevant for counselors to be knowledgeable and prepared to work with the growing populations in relation to their values, culture, family dynamics, and ultimately how they view and treat their disabled members. This chapter represents a synopsis of six different groups; Hispanic or Latino Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, Middle Eastern Americans, European Americans, and Native Americans. It presents a synopsis of each specific group’s culture, cultural and family perspectives on disability, socioeconomic factors, and religion. Involving the entire family and not just the client can assist counselors to establish a relationship of trust that can be meaningful for the counselor-client relationship. Cultural competence has been known to be an important component in receiving school psychological services for Arab American youth and their families.
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The chapter explores the history from the middle ages to the present day, noting the trials and tribulations of a population that continues to remain poorly understood and misperceived by the general public. Conditions for people with psychiatric disabilities did not fare much better in the American colonies. Similar to the circumstances during the Middle Ages, care for this population was the family’s responsibility if they had a family to care for them. Moral treatments began to decline in the second half of the 19th century in favor of somatic therapies and behavioral control techniques. Although psychiatrists initially scoffed at the notion that the quality of the care they provided in mental hospitals was subpar, research was conducted in the treatment of mental illness that brought about improvements. Physicians continued to develop and work toward improvement of somatic treatments for psychiatric disabilities in the early part of the 20th century.