Understanding Diverse Families : What Practitioners Need to Know book cover
1st Edition

Understanding Diverse Families
What Practitioners Need to Know

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ISBN 9781572304178
Published December 9, 1998 by Guilford Press
376 Pages

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Book Description

Today's mental health practitioners face a rapidly changing clientele. Divorce, remarriage, multiracial marriages, different types of adoption, openly gay and lesbian relationships--all have significantly altered the nature and composition of families. An indispensable classroom text and an important resource for clinicians working in private practice, managed care, and other settings, this book insightfully examines a range of healthy families with creative family structures.

Table of Contents

1. Diverse Families in Context
2. About Adoption: The Participants in Context
3. Adapting to Adoption over the Life Span
4. Treatment Issues Pertaining to Adoption
5. About Homosexuality: The Participants in Context
6. Homosexuality over the Life Span
7. Treatment Issues Pertaining to Homosexuality
8. About Multiraciality: The Participants in Context
9. Multiraciality across the Life Span
10. Treatment Issues Pertaining to Interracial Couples and Families
11. Emerging Families

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Barbara F. Okun, PhD, is Professor in the Department of Counseling Psychology, Rehabilitation, and Special Education at Northeastern University; Clinical Instructor of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School; and a supervisor in the Cambridge Hospital Couples and Family Therapy program. She has published several books, including Intimate Environments: Sex, Intimacy, and Gender in Family Therapy (coedited with David Kantor), as well as numerous chapters and articles, and she serves as editor of a book series that focuses on women and mental health. Dr. Okun's clinical practice comprises a diverse clientele of individuals, couples, and families.


"A groundbreaking contribution....Having been involved in multicultural psychology all my professional life, I have found the traditional Euro-American definition of 'family' inadequate and detrimental in a culturally diverse society. Okun provides a conceptual framework that allows us to redefine families, to understand the historical, political, and sociocultural influences on current families, and to articulate clinical issues relevant to mental health practitioners. What is outstanding about the book is the unusual balance between theoretical, research, and subjective perspectives. Okun's book contains the voices of many couples and families whom she has interviewed over the years. Thus, academic and intellectual concepts are brought to life by the many who reside in families different from our own." --Derald Wing Sue, PhD, California State University, and California School of Professional Psychology

"Barbara Okun's admirable book profoundly challenges our society's predominant definitions of family....Well-researched, comprehensive, and easy to read, Understanding Diverse Families should be required reading for all family therapists. It raises profound challenges about what a family is, exploding once and for all the myth that it takes two biological parents, and in particular one primary caretaker mother, to have a family. Instead, Okun shows us that workable, happy, productive, vibrant, and committed families come in a great variety of constellations. She has a broad perspective on the societal factors that impinge on families and offers a wealth of insight and information about adoptive, gay and lesbian, multicultural, and other families. Bravo for the scholarship, creativity, and insights of this crucial text which will help us to care for all families as we move into the 21st Century." --Monica McGoldrick, LCSW, PhD (h.c.), Family Institute of New Jersey