“Alguien abrió la puerta:” The phenomenology of bilingual Latinx clients’ use of Spanish and English in psychotherapy.

There has been a growing recognition of the role that various aspects of culture play in the theory and practice of psychotherapy. One aspect of culture that has received little attention, however, is language. Specifically, we lack comprehensive understanding of the value bilingual clients find in expressing thoughts, feelings, and experiences in two languages. Research that enhances understanding of the role that bilingualism plays in psychotherapy may thus help improve the quality of services that bilingual clients receive. To this end, we interviewed eight bilingual Latinx people (seven of Mexican descent and one Puerto Rican) between the ages of 20 and 37 about their experience using Spanish and English in psychotherapy. Using descriptive phenomenological analysis, we identified and interpreted 250 meaning units that were grouped into five overarching themes: (a) Enhancing Expression and Understanding, (b) An Affirming Experience, (c) Facilitating Therapeutic Processes, (d) Utility of a Therapist Bilingual Orientation, and (e) Strengthening the Therapeutic Relationship. Findings speak to the value for bilingual Latinx clients of being able to use both of their languages in psychotherapy. Implications for multicultural psychotherapy research and practice are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)