What is it about?

We reviewed eight studies that compared third-wave therapies to CBT and either compared outcomes based on ethnicity or were conducted with samples who were POC/people from collectivist cultures. Whilst we found some support for advantages of third-wave therapies in this context, it is clear that more research is needed with better representative samples and clear comparisons in substance use outcomes among different ethnicities.

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Why is it important?

In the treatment of substance use disorders, it has been suggested that third-wave therapies, which are more contextual and mindfulness-based in nature, are more culturally sensitive for people of colour (POC) and people from collectivist cultures, as compared to cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). This paper also highlights the importance of defining culture in research. We discuss how ethnicity is not a fully accurate proxy for evaluating culture and the importance of avoiding a false dichotomy between White and POC individuals in research or using inaccurate umbrella terms (e.g., Asian, Hispanic). Additionally, we reflect upon how cultural competency can be incorporated through better knowledge of client culture and flexibility in practice.


I hope that this article can highlight the importance of cultural competency and sensitivity in substance use treatment, especially through the discussion points on the definition of culture. Collaborating on this article was a good learning experience for me as a research trainee and I am thankful to my coauthors for their guidance and support.

Gil Angela Dela Cruz
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Review of third-wave therapies for substance use disorders in people of color and collectivist cultures: Current evidence and future directions., Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, September 2022, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/adb0000883.
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