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Race-based traumatic stress: Broadening your toolkit to serve diverse clientsBlue button that says "Register Now"
Date: Monday, April 10, 2023
Time: 12-2pm ET
Format: Hybrid, attend online or in-person
In-person location: School of Social Work, Tate-Turner-Kuralt Auditorium
CE: 2 CE, read for more information on CEs
Fee: $35, read for more information on fees and scholarships

Description: This workshop addresses why race-based stress and trauma are important to consider beyond the existing DSM diagnosis of PTSD and evidence-based practices. The trainers will provide insight into how to work more effectively with clients from groups who have a legacy of harm by the mainstream medical system and continue to experience racism. They will introduce tools that can be incorporated into clinical practice to help assess the effects of racism on people’s experiences. Participants will also be encouraged to engage in self-reflection around biases that may be interfering with serving diverse clients, such as beliefs about healing practices and the power of science, evidence, faith, community, and family history. The workshop will draw from research, practice, and cultural immersion and use a combination of didactic and experiential practices.

Learning objectives:

By end of the workshop, participants will be able to

  1. Apply at least one assessment tool to measure race-based traumatic stress in session with BIPOC clients.
  2. Expand on at least 2 reasons that race-based traumatic stress is relevant to clinical practice.
  3. Identify one core area for self-work to increase effectiveness with clients whose beliefs differ from yours.


Alicia Freeman, MS, LCMHC, LCAS-A is Mental Health First Aid Coordinator at UNC School of Social Work’s Behavioral Health Springboard.  She is also a psychotherapist and educator with nearly a decade of experience in delivering evidenced-based treatment services and developing and implementing practices for wellness.  She received a graduate degree from East Carolina University in Rehabilitation and Career Counseling with a Certificate in Substance Abuse Counseling and Vocational Evaluation. She is committed to improving equity and mental health and uses holistic methods drawn from her Native American heritage.


Sherrá M. Watkins, Ph.D., LCMHC-S, LCAS is the director of wellness counseling and assistant professor in the Department of Behavioral Sciences at American School of the Caribbean School of Medicine. Her research focuses on decreasing the stigma of mental health and substance use disorders, chronic pain and chronic diseases among African Americans, and the intersection of racism and racial bias within chronic pain and mental health and substance use treatment.  She is also CEO and co-owner of Sister WELLS, Counseling, Coaching & Consulting, PLLC, where she practices and supervises. Dr. Watkins grew up in Winston-Salem, NC and attended East Carolina University, where she earned her doctorate in rehabilitation counseling & administration and Master’s degrees in clinical counseling & substance abuse counseling, and in health education. She engaged in extensive cultural immersion when she worked in public health and is passionate about transforming systems that serve Black and brown communities.



Evidence based treatments & practices for ethnic/minority clients

Bernal, G., Jiménez-Chafey, M.I., & Domenech Rodríguez, M.M. (2009). Cultural adaptation of treatments: A resource for considering culture in evidence-based practice. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 40, 361-368.

Kataoka S, Novins DK, DeCarlo Santiago C. (2010). The practice of evidence-based treatments in ethnic minority youth. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 19(4):775-89. doi: 10.1016/j.chc.2010.07.008.

Assessments for ethnic/minority clients

Ford, D. Y. (2005). Intelligence testing and cultural diversity: Pitfalls and promises. The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented. Retrieved from

Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (US). (2014). Improving Cultural Competence. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US). (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 59) 3, Culturally Responsive Evaluation and Treatment Planning. Available from:

Acevedo-Polakovich ID, Reynaga-Abiko G, Garriott PO, Derefinko KJ, Wimsatt MK, Gudonis LC, Brown TL. (2007). Beyond instrument selection: Cultural considerations in the psychological assessment of U.S. Latinas/os. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 38(4):375–384.

Fontes LA. (2008). Interviewing Clients Across Cultures: A Practitioner’s Guide. New York: Guilford Press.

Hays PA. (2008). Addressing Cultural Complexities in Practice: Assessment, Diagnosis, and Therapy. 2nd ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Sorting things out: Culturally responsive assessment; pp. 105–127.

Comas-Diaz L. (2012). Multicultural Care: A Clinician’s Guide to Cultural Competence. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. pp. 33–56.

Taylor T. (2002). Effective cross-cultural communication in drug abuse intervention among ethnic minority populations. In: Xueqin Ma G, Henderson G, editors. Ethnicity and Substance Abuse: Prevention and Intervention. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas Publisher, Ltd. pp. 19–37.Lynch EW,

Hanson MJ. (2011). Steps in the right direction: Implications for service providers. In: Lynch EW, Hanson MJ, editors. Developing Cross-Cultural Competence: A Guide for Working With Children and Their Families. 4th ed. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing; pp. 472–489.

Benuto LT. (2012). Guide to Psychological Assessment With Hispanics. New York: Springer.

Association for Assessment in Counseling and Education. (2012). Standards for Multicultural Assessment. 4th ed. Alexandria, VA: Association for Assessment in Counseling and Education.

Culturally Sensitive Approaches for working with diverse and ethnic/minority clients

Hook, J.N., Davis, D. Owen, J. & DeBlaere, C. (2017). Cultural humility: Engaging diverse identities in therapy. American Psychological Association.

Watkins, S. and Andrews, A. (2021). Creating & Maintaining Safe Therapeutic Spaces for Black Clients. Advances in Addiction & Recovery Magazine (AA&R). 9(1), 24-26.

Watkins, S., Mizelle-Johnson, Nathalie, Andrews, Anthony and Sawyer, Qu’Nesha. (2020). The Intersectionality of Substance Use Disorders Among Black Americans and Critical Race Theory in Educating Counselor Trainees. International Journal of Social Policy and Education. 2(5), 75-85.

Race-based traumatic stress and its importance in clinical work

Carter, R.T., & Sant-Barket, S.M. (2015). Assessment of the impact of racial discrimination and racism: How to use the race-based traumatic stress symptom scale in practice. Traumatology, 21(1), 32-39.

Carter, R. & Pieterse, A. (2020). The Short Form And The Interview Schedule of The Race-Based Traumatic Stress Symptom Scale. In Measuring the Effects of Racism: Guidelines for the Assessment and Treatment of Race-Based Traumatic Stress Injury (pp. 140-166). New York: Columbia University Press.

Litam, S. D. A. (2020). “Take Your Kung-Flu Back to Wuhan”: Counseling Asians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders with Race-Based Trauma Related to COVID-19. Professional Counselor, 10(2), 144-156.

Malott, K. M., & Schaefle, S. (2015). Addressing clients’ experiences of racism: A model for clinical practice. Journal of Counseling and Development, 93(3), 361–369. doi: 10.1002/jcad.12034

Mercado, A., & Hinojosa, Y. (2017). Culturally adapted dialectical behavior therapy in an underserved community mental health setting: A Latina adult case study. Practice Innovations, 2(2), 80-93.



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