Psychotherapy Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Treatment Outcomes: The Role of University Racial/Ethnic Composition

Jesse Owen, Jeremy Coleman, Joanna M. Drinane, Karen Tao, Zac Imel, Bruce Wampold, Mark Kopta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective: Mental health disparities between racial/ethnic minorities (REM) and White individuals are well documented. These disparities extend into psychotherapy and have been observed among clients receiving care at university/college counseling centers. However, less is known about if campus RE composition affects outcomes from psychotherapy for REM and White clients. Method: This study examined psychotherapy outcomes from 16,011 clients who engaged in services at 33 university/college counseling centers. Each of these clients completed the Behavioral Health Measure as a of part routine practice. Campus RE composition was coded from publicly available data. Results: The results demonstrated that White clients had better therapy outcomes than REM clients when they were at campuses where there were more White students. For universities 1 SD below the mean percentage of White students, the average difference in therapy outcomes for White and REM clients was Cohen’s d =.21 (with White students experiencing more improvement); however, for universities 1 SD above the mean, the between group outcome disparity was greater (Cohen’s d =.38). Conclusion: Therapists and higher education professionals should consider environmental impacts on counseling services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)418-424
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Counseling Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Counseling center
  • Racial/ethnic disparities
  • Social capital
  • Therapy outcomes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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