Counselors' experiences working with undocumented clients in the new Latino south
Balderas, Carissa Noemi
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There is a significant disparity in mental health care for undocumented Latinos living in the U.S (Alegría et al., 2002; Perez & Fortuna, 2005; Coffman & Norton, 2010). A significant barrier to services for this population is a lack of culturally competent providers who can meet their mental health needs (Perez & Fortuna, 2005). There is currently a gap in the literature regarding the training, resources, and support that the counselor’s who work with this population need in order to provide this care. Therefore, the purpose of this multiple case study was to gain an in-depth understanding of the lived experiences of five counselors who are currently working with undocumented Latino clients within the context of a Latino-serving community-counseling center in the New Latino South. Data collection in this study included focus groups, individual interviews, and document review. The study was informed by LatCrit theory (Iglesias, 1997), in order to intentionally recognize the racism and discriminatory laws and policies that impact the mental health care of undocumented Latinos. Thematic analysis was used in order to identify primary themes for each individual counselor’s experience and then all cases underwent cross-case analysis. The following themes were explored: counselors’ educational and training experiences, counselors’ clinical experiences in session with undocumented clients, how systemic factors impact counselors’ clinical experiences, and the personal impact of this work on counselors. The themes identified through this study have implications for clinical practice and further research with undocumented Latino clients.