Associate Professor; Canada Research Chair for Mental Health Disparities
Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ottawa
Given the increasing diversity of clients seeking mental health care, there is a growing need to enhance the cultural sensitivity of therapeutic interventions with ethnoracial minority populations. One critical form of contemporary racism is the experience of microaggressions: brief, everyday exchanges, in the form of seemingly innocent and innocuous comments or behaviors that send denigrating messages to people of color. Microaggressions in mental health settings are a cause of poor therapeutic alliance and drop-out, representing a barrier to treatment. Repeated exposure to microaggressions can cause psychological unwellness and even trauma symptoms. However, many clinicians are unaware of microaggressions, may commit them unknowingly against clients, and are unsure how to address them in treatment. Thus, increasing awareness of microaggressions is a critical target of clinical training and therapeutic intervention to improve treatment outcomes and promote mental health in diverse populations.
***M.Sc. Students in Health Systems, this event can count towards one of the six mandatory Research Seminars Series needed to attend (MHS6991).***
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Dr. Williams is the Canada Research Chair for Mental Health Disparities at the University of Ottawa in the School of Psychology. Her work focuses on ethnic minority mental health and psychopathology. She completed her undergraduate studies at MIT and UCLA and received her doctoral degree from the University of Virginia. She was faculty at the University of Pennsylvania for four years, followed by five years at the University of Louisville, where she served as Director of the Center for Mental Health Disparities. She was also faculty at the University of Connecticut, where she provided clinical students with multicultural training. She has published over 100 scientific articles, primarily on mental disorders and cultural issues.