- Previous reports on the state of the Latino/a-focused mental health literature suggest that the quantity of Latino/a-focused articles within the mental health field continued to be disproportionate to the growing percentage of Latino/as in the United States (Liang, Salcedo, Rivera, & Lopez, 2009). As such, Latino/a mental health experiences, needs, and issues are likely to continue to be underrepresented and misunderstood. Additional examination of factors and variables related to Latino/a’s mental health is warranted in order to contribute to a greater understanding and development of further treatment options for this population. The Latino/a youth/adolescent (13- 17 years old) subpopulation represents a clear example of the need for additional examination within the Latino population. Santisteban and Mena (2009) reported that the Latino/a youth might be susceptible to several mental health indicators that require urgent attention, such as disproportionately higher rates of drug use, higher depressive symptoms, higher suicide ideations, and an evident shortage of evidenced-based treatments that incorporate culturally sensitive information about Latino/a youth. Through two studies, this dissertation seeks to (a) systemically analyze the Latino-focused mental health literature published between 2006 and 2015 by identifying trends and gaps in the literature and (b) examine the associations between a selection of multisystemic variables and Caucasian practitioner’s perceived therapeutic working alliance with an adolescent Latino/a client.
The first study analyzed the Latino/a-focused literature in the counseling and mental health fields using Bronfenbrenner’s (1979) Ecological Systems Theory. This study provided a holistic and systemic analysis of the variables utilized in published mental health related Latino/a-focused research between 2006 and 2015. Findings in this study indicate a number of gaps that prevent the formation of a holistic and systemic understanding of the mental health needs of this population. For example, results in this study indicated that microsystemic variables were the most frequently included variables among the studies in the review; whereas, exosystemic and mesosystemic variables represented the least frequently studied variables among Latino/a-focused research.
The second study was intended to build upon findings in Study 1, a critique review of the literature. This study examined the multisystemic factors associated with Californian Caucasian practitioners’ (N = 82) perceived therapeutic alliance with Latino/a adolescents. To our knowledge, no previous study had utilized the ecological theory of Bronfenbrenner (1979) to examine the associations between systemic factors and the practitioners’ perceived therapeutic working alliance with their adolescent Latino/a client. The question guiding this study was: To what extent do (a) therapist’s years of experience working with the Latino population, (b) therapist cross-cultural counseling competence, (c) therapist/client gender matching, (d) client generational status, (e) therapist’s interaction with the client’s family, and (f) therapist’s receiving of consultation or supervision about the work with the client predict the therapist-perceived TWA with the client? Results based on standard multiple linear regression indicated that practitioner-client parent interaction and practitioner’s self-perceived cross-cultural counseling competency were significant predictors of therapists’ perceived working alliance with their Latino/a youth client. These two predictors explained 25.3% of the variance in the therapist-perceived therapeutic working alliance. Results further indicated that therapist’s year of experience working with the Latino population, therapist/client gender matching, client’s generational status, and therapist’s receiving of consultation or supervision for the case did not statistically significantly predict therapists’ working alliance with a Latino/a youth client.
Overall, findings from both studies highlight the utility of using a multisystemic framework to investigate therapeutic processes. These findings suggest that distal and multisystemic factors are related and predictive of the therapeutic process involving Latino/a youth. Findings in these studies bear relevance for researchers, practitioners, and counselor educators particularly in relation to cross-cultural counseling competence and family involvement in counseling Latino/a youth.