Racial disparities in basic needs: MFTs utilizing Maslow’s hierarchy when working with marginalized youth
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Significant disparities in lower academic achievement and higher arrest rates exist across racial/ethnic groups. Understanding factors that contribute to these issues is critical to decreasing these disparities. Examining basic needs, according to Maslow’s Hierarchy, in adolescence can give insight to potential factors that are contributing to negative outcomes in emerging adulthood. We tested these interactions using a multiple-group longitudinal panel model with the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Heath dataset (Black n = 4,609, White n = 1,318 χ2(12) = 19.38, p > .08, RMSEA = .01 (90% C.I.: .00 to .03), SRMR = .01, CFI = .99, TLI = .95. Although examining basic needs in adolescence and how they impact arrests and academic achievement, we found that physiological needs are negatively related to arrests for those who identify White. Furthermore, love and belonging needs are negative related to arrest rates for both Black and White. These findings highlight the importance of love and belonging for Black and White adolescents as a protective factor against arrests. This study also sheds light on the need for MFTs to assess adolescents’ basic needs as a part of treatment and calls MFTs to step out of their comfort zone in the therapy room to advocate for marginalized populations.