Cross culture therapy refers to the therapist’s understanding of the client’s background, culture and society. It is the therapist’s ability to empathize with her client’s worldview even though it may be different from her own.
Worldview’s matter. They guide our thoughts and decision making. A client struggling with a family conflict will have a much different strategy for dealing with it if she is from a collective society than if she is from a western culture.
In a collective society, values are different. Family and community take on a greater importance in comparison to the western idea of individual needs are more important than almost anything else.
A therapist needs to understand where the client is coming from. What is guiding her values? It may be different than the ideas we are used to. Understanding cultural background is essential to helping clients deal with any type of challenge they may be facing.
Why cultural understanding matters in therapy
There are many obvious benefits to working with a therapist who understands your background and culture. It is also necessary for the therapist to understand her own limitations in her knowledge. In this way, her ignorance of the culture will not interfere with her ability to understand and empathize with her client.
Often, acknowledging limited understanding of a culture can open up an honest dialogue and allow the client to express issues without fear of judgement or lack of understanding on the part of the therapist.
There are times when a therapist of a different culture can be beneficial to the client. Especially if the client is dealing with two conflicting cultures. For example, in some societies, personal needs should not conflict with family needs. A therapist of the same culture may not be able to help sort out these inner conflicts because it goes against the therapist’s own world view.
In a case such as this, a therapist of another culture is able to provide a neutral and more understanding viewpoint.
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