Diversity and Cultural Competence in Family Therapy
A therapist will face problems, issues and client troubles everyday. The professional must understand how their client relates to the world around them. These feelings and ideas affect how the client sees the problem and how they respond to their situation. Their actions, in turn, have bearing on individual thoughts, needs, and emotions. The therapist must be aware of the client's history, values, and culture in order to provide effective therapy. This paper will outline and provide information as to the importance of cultural competence and diversity in family therapy.
What is Cultural Competence?
Culture can be defined as behaviors exhibited by certain racial, religious, social or ethnic groups. Some factors in which culture may vary include: family structure, education, and socioeconomic status (Kodjo, 2009). Some may think cultural competence is something that has an end point, however, when the big picture is seen, it is a learning process and journey. From the writer’s perspective, the client-therapist relationship can be challenging. Culturally competent therapists must realize that behaviors are shaped by an individual’s culture. Many changes are taking place within the United States cultural makeup. Therapists and healthcare professionals are being challenged to provide effective and sensitive care for patients and their families. This type of culturally sensitive care requires the professional to be open and seek understanding in the patients diverse belief systems (Kodjo, 2009).
The therapist must be aware of individual values and beliefs in order to develop an understanding of why the client responds to certain life-stressors. For example, Asian Americans exhibit behaviors, which differ from those of Americans. Asians have different cultural attitudes and goals compared to Americans in reference to courtship, marriage, relationships, education, career and family. Within the Asian culture, people do not openly display their feelings or emotions toward others. The reason for this would be due to what they call the “protective front," or a public mask, which is used to meet their political expectations (Shiraev & Levy, 2010). When examining other cultures, a therapist must take into account the individual’s beliefs. An example of this is Japan’s respect for history and spiritual practice. Their practice is not shared as strictly in American culture, where many families do not practice religion or husband and wife may be of different religion and allow children to make their own spiritual decisions.
Why is it Important?
Cultural competency aids in closing the “disparities gap” in health care. ("OMH," 2012, para. 2) In doing so, health professionals and their clients are better able to discuss concerns without cultural differences getting in the way of effective communication and problem solving. Being respectful of and sensitive to the...