Working with Vietnamese Americans: A Clinical Training Manual for Mental Health Professionals
Thomas T. Nguyen
University of St. Thomas, Minnesota
Vietnamese Americans are among the most recent immigrants to the United States (Min, 2006). There is a higher need of mental health services for those who have witnessed traumatic events (i.e., war trauma and forced migration) and those struggling with acculturative stress. Unfortunately, there is a significant deficit of culturally appropriate mental health service providers in working with this specific population (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2010). Despite efforts within the field in recent years to identify barriers to mental health services among Vietnamese Americans, mental health service utilization remains low and rates of early termination remains high. For many Vietnamese, low services utilization does not equate to a lesser need, but it reveals the many barriers (e.g., misunderstanding the Western concept of mental health, language communication, and cultural beliefs and practices) that prevent them from seeking mental health services. Further, a higher early termination rate is likely the result of the clinicians’ lack of cultural awareness and training. Thus, there is a need for a clinical training curriculum for mental health professionals working with this target group. The curriculum will address culturally appropriate interventions (i.e., multicultural awareness, understanding the Vietnamese cultural perception of mental illness, working with language interpreters, and intervention skills) to ensure that clinicians are better equipped with the knowledge and the skills to assist Vietnamese Americans, and also the ever-increasing diverse community.