Midwest Social Sciences Journal


Therapeutic outcome is often impacted by the psychotherapeutic relationship throughout treatment. These outcomes are mediated by the client’s belief in the psychotherapist’s trust, comfort, and competency while navigating mental health concerns. Cultural differences can impact a client’s perspective on all three factors and thus impact the psychotherapeutic relationship and success of treatment. The Accent Prestige Theory has noted that individuals who speak English with a Latin American Spanish accent are perceived as less competent, friendly, and trustworthy by White individuals in the United States. While this theory has been examined in select contexts, there is no previous work related to the influence of a Latin American Spanish accent in a psychotherapeutic relationship. Using the Consensual Qualitative Research (CQR) methodology, this study investigated White clients’ perceptions of a Latin American Spanish-accented therapist and their views on cross-cultural psychotherapy. Results demonstrated that participants easily recognize cultural and ethnic differences based on the therapist’s accent. Participants demonstrated having different levels of awareness about the ways in which cultural and ethnic differences may impact the psychotherapeutic relationship. Several participants questioned the competence of the psychotherapist presented based on the differences in culture and ethnicity. Most participants reported feeling “awkward” and “nervous” about potentially discussing cultural differences in therapy and noted a preference to defer the responsibility of discussing cultural topics to a therapist of color. The results emphasize the importance of broaching cultural and ethnic differences in cross-cultural psychotherapeutic dyads and examining racial and cultural biases to promote an anti-racist and therapeutic space.