Diversity in Couple and Family Therapy
Ethnicities, Sexualities, and Socioeconomics
by Shalonda Kelly, PhD, Editor
December 2016, 485pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-3363-2
$95, £74, 83€, A131
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-3364-9
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Factors such as race, ethnicity, gender, religion, and sexual identity play critical roles in therapy approaches.

This unprecedented volume provides a primer on diverse couples and families—one of the most numerous and fastest-growing populations in the United States—illustrating the unique challenges they face to thrive in various cultural and social surroundings.

In Diversity in Couple and Family Therapy: Ethnicities, Sexualities, and Socioeconomics, a clinical psychologist and couples and family therapist with nearly two decades’ experience leads a team of experts in addressing contemporary elements of diversity as they relate to the American family and covering key topics that all Americans face when establishing their identities, including racial and ethnic identity, gender and sexual orientation identity, religious and spiritual identity, and identity intersections and alternatives. Moreover, it includes chapters on cross-cultural assessment of health and pathology and tailoring treatment to diversity.

Every chapter includes vignettes that serve to illustrate the nuances of and solutions to the concerns and issues, as well as the strengths and resilience often inherent in diverse couples or families. Effective methods of coping with stereotypes, intergenerational trauma, discrimination, and social and structural disparities are presented, as are ways to assess and empower couples and families. This text includes experiences and traditions of subgroups that typically receive little attention from being seen as too common, such as white and Christian families, or from being seen as too uncommon, such as couples and families from specific Native American tribes and multiracial couples and families. Thus, it addresses the curricular changes needed to master the diversity found in contemporary American couples and families.

The text offers a holistic perspective on diverse couples and families that is consistent with the increasing prominence of models that transcend individual diagnoses and biology to include social factors and context. Theory, policy, prevention, assessment, treatment, and research considerations are included in each chapter. Topics include African American, Asian American, Latino, Native American, white, biracial/multiracial, intercultural, LGBT, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim couples and families as well as diverse family structures. The depth of every chapter includes attention to subgroups within each category, such as African American and Caribbean couples and families, as well as those who represent the intersection between varying oppressed identities, such as an intercultural gay family, or a poor, homeless interracial couple. Additionally, each chapter provides a review section with condensed and easy-to-understand summaries of the key take-away lessons.


  • Offers an examination of a broader-than-typical array of diverse families and the challenges they face
  • Includes case vignettes of couples and families of varying racial/ethnic, socioeconomic, religious/spiritual, and sexual orientations, the subgroups among them, and their intersections
  • Examines issues including social disparities, stereotyping and discrimination, identity development, and the roles of neighborhoods and communities
  • Written to allow easy incorporation as a textbook or supplemental text
  • Includes highlighted "Myths and Realities" with each chapter as well as a list of additional resources and cultural competence take-aways after each section
Shalonda Kelly, PhD, is clinical psychologist and associate professor at Rutgers University. She has been seeing couples, families, children, and adults from diverse backgrounds for almost 20 years. Kelly also trains doctoral students and publishes clinically oriented manuscripts on how to address race, ethnicity, and culture in individual, couple, and family therapy. She has extensive experience in providing all levels of care, including outpatient, residential, and inpatient therapy, and has facilitated inpatient and outpatient groups for youth and adults as well as provided crisis intervention. In addition, Kelly has more than five years of experience treating individuals and couples in randomized clinical trials adapting behavioral marital therapy to treat male and female drug and alcohol abuse and dependence. She received a bachelor's degree in psychology from Pomona College in Claremont, CA. She received dual master's and doctorate degrees in clinical psychology-urban studies from Michigan State University, with a concentration on children and families. Kelly's research examines racial and cultural perspectives and related behaviors, and their association with individual and couple functioning, particularly in regard to African American couples. She received a diversity award from the National Council of Schools and Programs of Professional Psychology. At Rutgers University, she was named a Leader in Diversity and cochaired a diversity committee that received a Human Dignity Award


Outstanding Academic Title, 2017—Choice, January 1, 2018


"A superb contribution to the literature in family therapy and cultural competence. . . . The book is quite comprehensive and contemporary in focus. . . . This book is a superb resource for family therapists, educators in family systems theory and therapy, and health care professionals. Graduate- and doctoral-level students will find this book a welcome addition to their personal libraries. Summing Up: Essential."—Choice, August 1, 2017

"Kelly’s text provides a comprehensive introductory overview to many aspects of diversity that may be addressed in the context of couple and family therapy. The variety in scope and depth of exploration varies chapter to chapter such that this work would be a valuable resource for undergraduate, graduate, and early career professionals. . . . There are many facets to Kelly’s book that were appealing. Diversity in Couple and Family Therapy is not a textbook that conforms to the standard way of describing history and culture, but rather incorporates multiple perspectives that allow for those belonging to minority groups to feel that they may find relevant information pertaining to their specific identity."—PsycCRITIQUES, August 7, 2017

"This outstanding book will make a major contribution to the field of couple and family therapy by providing experienced and beginning therapists with a comprehensive, in-depth view of multicultural and diversity issues. All chapters and case examples are exceptionally well written and include areas such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, spirituality, different socioeconomic levels, and intersecting identities. It will be an excellent textbook for introductory as well as graduate-level courses in all programs training mental health professionals."—Nancy Boyd-Franklin, PhD, Distinguished Professor, Rutgers University; Author of Black Families in Therapy: Understanding the African American Experience

"Dr. Shalonda Kelly brings a fresh perspective on diversity to the treatment of families and couples. Structural oppression is an overarching concept, different for each group, but pernicious nevertheless, in its effects on people engendered through stereotypes, intergenerational trauma, discrimination, and disparities. Building on earlier approaches calling attention to therapist self-awareness and knowledge, this book introduces and emphasizes a process approach to cultural competence which focuses on interactional processes—going beyond the therapist-client dyad to the exchange among families, couples, and therapists. It is how the complexity of social identities and their intersection influence the therapeutic process that needs attention. Shared history and experiences related to race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, and religion are all in the room. Hence, the concept of dynamic sizing—the ability to be flexible in individualizing knowledge of a client underscores the important balance between knowing the client and generalizing cultural-specific knowledge and worldviews of the group to which the client belongs. It is a book worth reading with key concepts and practical tools for culturally competent practice."—Jean Lau Chin, EdD, ABPP, Professor, Adelphi University

"Every couple and family therapist should read this book! There is no way to practice successfully without taking the diversity issues so richly discussed here into account. To understand ourselves as therapists as well as how our clients’ diverse identities influence their couple and family relationships, every therapist, teacher and supervisor will be greatly enriched by this outstanding text."—Monica McGoldrick, LCSW, PhD (h.c.), Director, Multicultural Family Institute. Teacher, family therapist, and author of Ethnicity & Family Therapy (3rd Ed., 2005), Re-Visioning Family Therapy (2nd Ed. 2008), Genograms Assessment and Intervention (3rd Ed., 2008), The Expanded Family Life Cycle (4th Ed., 2011), and other distinguished books. She also was the recipient of the American Family Therapy Academy Award (1988) for Distinguished Contribution to Family Therapy Theory & Practice.
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