International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy

Volume 15 Num. 3 - October 2015


Is Culturally Sensitive Cognitive Behavioral Therapy an Empirically Supported Treatment?: The Case for Hispanics

Volume 15 Num. 3 - October 2015 - Pages 405-421


Lorraine T. Benuto , William O’Donohue


In this paper we reviewed the literature to determine what “culturally sensitive” interventions (whereby “culturally sensitive” was defined as any study that included a specific focus on the cultural group of interest) can be considered well-established, beneficial treatments for use with Hispanic populations. Despite several hundred publications on Hispanics and cultural sensitivity over the past several decades, only 12 peer-reviewed articles that evaluated empirically supported treatments for the mental health disorders most commonly diagnosed among Hispanics were identified. These studies had significant methodological limitations and few employed the “gold standard” designs associated with randomized clinical trials. From this review we concluded that 1) the ratio of non-empirical to experimental publications is quite high; 2) there is evidence that Hispanics may be effectively treated using conventional cognitive behavioral therapy; 3) there is little evidence that cultural adaptations result in consistently improved effect sizes; and 4) cultural adaptations do not show expected homogeneity regarding cultural tailoring, suggesting that the construct of Hispanic culture is poorly understood.

Key words:

cultural sensitivity, Hispanics, therapy outcome, efficacy

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