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Tummala-Narra, P. (2007). Skin Color and the Therapeutic Relationship. Psychoanal. Psychol., 24(2):255-270.

(2007). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 24(2):255-270

Skin Color and the Therapeutic Relationship

Pratyusha Tummala-Narra, Ph.D.

Although issues pertinent to psychotherapy with ethnic minorities have been attended to increasingly over the past two decades, the issue of skin color has more or less been neglected in the psychotherapy literature. The idealization of light skin color in mainstream White and ethnic minority communities in the United States has impacted a wide range of societal and individual perceptions ranging from physical attractiveness to intellectual and social competence. The relevance of this impact in the psychotherapeutic relationship is explored in this article. Skin color is addressed within an historical context, and its influence on intrapsychic and interpersonal processes in the lives of clients and therapists are discussed. Clinical vignettes are presented to illustrate the dynamics of skin color in the therapeutic relationship.

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