Working with African American clients: considering the "homeplace" in marriage and family therapy practices

J Marital Fam Ther. 2004 Oct;30(4):397-410. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-0606.2004.tb01251.x.


In this article, we discuss perspectives on the "homeplace" that are important to consider in marriage and family therapy involving African American clients. The homeplace comprises individual and family processes that are anchored in a defined physical space that elicits feelings of empowerment, rootedness, ownership, safety, and renewal. Critical elements of the homeplace include social relationships that shape individuals' and families' sense of social and cultural identity. We draw on our ethnographic and clinical research with African American families in urban and rural settings to describe typical schisms between therapists and African American clients when communicating about the homeplace. We also explore the impact of homeplace disruptions on experiences of "yearning." Recommendations for integrating a homeplace perspective into therapy practices are provided.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anecdotes as Topic
  • Black or African American / psychology*
  • Cultural Characteristics
  • Family Relations*
  • Family Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marital Therapy / methods*
  • Poverty*
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Social Identification*
  • United States