Manivong Ratts

Associate Professor of Counseling

As Manivong Ratts pushes the boundaries of the practice of counseling and psychology, he continues to gain recognition for his efforts to promote social justice counseling. Ratts urges counselors and psychologists to consider the relevance of advocacy, prevention and outreach efforts when working with those without power and privilege in society. He contends that counseling professionals need to expand the focus of their work to include community engagement.

Traditional psychotherapy, typically in an office setting, frequently overshadows advocacy in the community, according to Ratts, yet combining advocacy with a more conventional approach is important and necessary when working with marginalized client populations. Too often counseling helps people adapt to oppressive structures, he says, rather than promotes change in the environment so clients’ lives can be fulfilling.

Ratts says his scholarship centers on integrating social justice into counseling research and practices. Since joining Seattle University in 2006, he has been published in such peer-reviewed journals as the Journal of Counseling and Development, Professional School Counseling and Counselor Education and Supervision, among others. In an article for the Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, he suggested integrating multicultural and social justice forces in counseling.

Being on the fringes of society is a chronic stress factor that can lead to both psychological and physical health problems, Ratts says. He points to a study by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network that suggests heterosexual norms can lead to increased negative psychological and social development for LGBTQ youth.

In 2010, Ratts was lead co-editor of a book for the American Counseling Association, Advocacy Competencies: A Social Justice Framework for Counselors, that provides counseling professionals with a framework for carrying out social justice initiatives in different settings, populations and areas.

Ratts, a past president of Counselors for Social Justice, a division of the American Counseling Association, also serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Counseling and Development and the Journal for Social Action in Counseling and Psychology. Recently, he released the DVD, “Four Approaches with One Client: Medical, Intrapsychic, Multicultural and Social Justice Models of Helping,” through Alexander Street Press.


Videos by Eric Becker

John Keatly
Manivong Ratts, PhD