Friday, December 5, 2014

Cultural Diversity and Family Therapy - General Information

◆ “Traditional” psychotherapeutic approaches are most effective on middle to upper class clients of European descent.

◆ The ability of therapists to assess and deal with family dynamics and behaviors is related to their knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of the cultural context within which families function.

◆ The goal of therapy is to help the clients become more functional in their society, so functionality is culturally determined as well.
o Different cultures require different behaviors of societal success.
o Expressions of abnormality and the underlying psychological causes are bound to culture.

◆ Statistics
o Lower rate of utilization of services by Asian Americans and Native Americans than by European Americans and African Americans.
o Minority groups have a higher drop out rate and poorer treatment outcomes
■ Found to be due to cultural insensitivity of standard treatment methods.
■ There are culturally specific reasons that prevent minorities from utilizing available services.
• Perception of effectiveness of counseling
• Different world views
• Lack of understanding of unique life experiences
• Lack of knowledge on cultural systems of healing
• Preference for action oriented therapy
• Preference for therapist with similar cultural background and gender
o Therapists Bias
■ Research shows that therapists view clients of different cultures than their own differently
■ Ethnically matched therapists tended to judge clients to have higher mental functioning than did mismatched therapists.
■ Competencies required for sensitive and effective treatment:
• Knowledge of diverse cultures and lifestyles
• Skill and comfort in using innovative treatment methods
• Actual experience working with culturally diverse clients
• Awareness of own cultural beliefs and experiences and how they influence the course of treatment
• Awareness of strong transference reactions
• Awareness of barriers to empathy on the part of the therapist.