Get access



  • This article is adapted, by special permission of Oxford University Press, from a chapter of the same title by the same authors in J.C. Norcross (Ed.), 2011, Psychotherapy Relationships That Work (2nd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. The book project was cosponsored by the APA Division of Clinical Psychology and the APA Division of Psychotherapy. Funding for this project was provided by Brigham Young University and TP Industrial, Inc.


This article summarizes the definitions, means, and research of adapting psychotherapy to clients' cultural backgrounds. We begin by reviewing the prevailing definitions of cultural adaptation and providing a clinical example. We present an original meta-analysis of 65 experimental and quasi-experimental studies involving 8,620 participants. The omnibus effect size of d = .46 indicates that treatments specifically adapted for clients of color were moderately more effective with that clientele than traditional treatments. The most effective treatments tended to be those with greater numbers of cultural adaptations. Mental health services targeted to a specific cultural group were several times more effective than those provided to clients from a variety of cultural backgrounds. We recommend a series of research-supported therapeutic practices that account for clients' culture, with culture-specific treatments being more effective than generally culture-sensitive treatments. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Clin Psychol: In Session 67:166–175, 2011.