Call us at (860) 830-7838
Behavioral Wellness Clinic

MENTAL HEALTH & COUNSELING SERVICES IN CONNECTICUT AND ONLINE


Ethnic Identity and Racial Discrimination

Trauma in People of Color and Refugees

The last two decades of research has shown a clear connection between experiences of discrimination and psychological unwellness. Overt and covert forms of racial discrimination have been linked to symptoms of depression, worry, anxiety, stress, substance abuse, agoraphobia, paranoia, and even psychosis. The traumatizing effect of racial discrimination, which is similar to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), is sometimes called racial trauma. Racial trauma is caused by a combination of stressors, including historical/cultural trauma, community trauma, overt and covert racial discrimination, and/or microaggressions. Microaggressions are brief, everyday exchanges, in the form of seemingly innocuous comments and subtle gestures that send denigrating messages to people of color because they belong to a minority group. Microaggressions are a primary source of racially biased experiences on a day-to-day basis and are also a barrier to treatment for patients of color when delivered by mental health professionals.

This has important applications for many stigmatized groups, including ethnic minorities as well as refugees who may have experienced ethnic violence in their countries of origin. The ability of clinicians to accurately understand and assess their clients' difficulties is the essential first step to effective treatment.

Cultural Services

  • Evaluations for Legal Purposes
  • Evaluations for Workers Compensation
  • Treatment of Racial Trauma
  • Ethnic Identity Development
  • Coping with Racism
  • White Parents Raising Minority Children
  • Discrimination in School
  • Culturally-Informed IQ Testing

Research-Informed Evaluation

At BWC, we are on the forefront of the development of a scientific and qualitative understanding of the nature of these syndromes. We conduct in-depth evaluations of victims of discrimination for legal purposes, worker’s compensation, treatment, training, and research. One of the most important contributions to this work is the ongoing development of a reliable means of identifying those suffering from racial trauma. Dr. Monnica Williams has developed a clinical interview called the UConn Racial and Ethnic Stress and Trauma Survey (UnRESTS). The UnRESTS, available in both English and Spanish, provides therapists with their first and only semi-structured interview for uncovering racial trauma in clients. She also developed the Trauma Symptoms of Discrimination Scale (TSDS), a 21-item self-report questionnaire to aid in screening people exposed to discriminatory events and potentially monitoring anxiety-related symptoms of trauma over the course of treatment.

Culturally-Informed Care

Experiences of racism and discrimination can lead to stress, anxiety, traumatization, and depression. Even low-levels of discrimination experienced on a regular basis can result in psychological unwellness. Anyone suffering as a result of such experiences can contact us to schedule an in-person evaluation or phone consultation for treatment at the Behavioral Wellness Clinic.

We understand the cultural, social, and spiritual issues that shape the whole person. At BWC every therapist is dedicated to providing culturally-competent services to diverse clients, whether or not that therapist identifies with an ethnic or racial minority group. Our therapists are professional, open-minded, flexible, and will make you feel understood and validated.

Representative Publications

Culture and Mental Health

Williams, M. T., Printz, D., & DeLapp, R. C. T. (in press). Assessing racial trauma in African Americans with the Trauma Symptoms of Discrimination Scale. Psychology of Violence. doi: 10.1037/vio0000212

Ching, T. H. W., Lee, S., Chen, J., So, R., & Williams, M. T. (in press). A model of intersectional stress and trauma in Asian American sexual and gender minorities. Psychology of Violence. doi: 10.1037/vio0000204

Williams, M. T., Metzger, I., Leins, C., & DeLapp, C. (in press). Assessing racial trauma within a DSM-5 Framework: The UConn Racial/Ethnic Stress & Trauma Survey. Practice Innovations.

Williams, M. T., Kanter, J. W., & Ching, T. H. W. (in press). Anxiety, stress, and trauma symptoms in African Americans: Negative affectivity does not explain the relationship between microaggressions and psychopathology. Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities. doi: 10.1007/s40615-017-0440-3

Williams, M. T., Taylor, R. J., Mouzon, D. M., Oshin, L., Himle, J. A., & Chatters, L. M. (2017). Discrimination and symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder among African Americans. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 87(6), 636-645. doi: 10.1037/ort0000285

Bosson, R., Williams, M. T., Lippman, S., Carrico, R., Kanter, J., Peña, A., Mier-Chairez, J., & Ramirez, J. (2017). Addressing refugee mental health needs: From concept to implementation. The Behavior Therapist, 40(3), 110-112.

Williams, M. T., Pena, A., & Mier-Chairez, J. (2017). Assessing and Treating Racism-Related Stress and Trauma among Latinos. In L. T. Benuto (Ed.), Toolkit for Counseling Spanish-Speaking Clients. Springer. ISBN: 978-3-319-64880-4

Sawyer, B., DeLapp, R. C. T., & Williams, M. T. (2016). Community Violence Exposure, Racial Discrimination, and Barriers to Treatment: Implications for African American Males in Counseling. In W. Ross (Ed.), Counseling African American Males: Effective Therapeutic Interventions and Approaches. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Malcoun, E., Williams, M. T., & Bahojb-Nouri, L. V. (2015). Assessment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in African Americans. In L. T. Benuto & B. D. Leany (Eds.), Guide to Psychological Assessment with African Americans, New York: Springer. ISBN: 978-1-4939-1003-8.

BEHAVIORAL WELLNESS CLINIC

392 MERROW RD, SUITE E
TOLLAND, CT 06084
OFFICE: (860) 830-7838
FAX: (860) 454-0667

 
CLINICAL DIRECTOR: MONNICA WILLIAMS, PHD
OFFICE MANAGER: JASMINE FAIRFAX
BUSINESS MANAGER: MATTHEW JAHN

 
FRONT DESK PHONE HOURS
M: 12 noon - 3:00 pm
Tu: 8:30 am - 4:30 pm
W: 8:30 am - 3:00 pm
F: 8:30 am - 3:00 pm