Diversity and Difference

Topics: Family, Psychotherapy, Mental health Pages: 17 (4439 words) Published: February 7, 2011


Based upon your readings and other sources, give some examples of different family systems and beliefs, and indicate how these may affect the outcomes of counselling.

Defining main cultural traditions

“It is essential to understand our own cultural heritage and world view, before we set about assisting other people.” (Ibrahim,1985; Lauver,1986).

It was noted by the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy in 2006, that

“practitioners must consider and address their own prejudices and how they stereotype others. They must ensure that anti-discriminative practice is integral to their work when using Counselling skills.” (BACP, 2006)


“Research shows clients from ethnic minority groups
are the least likely to make use of Counselling services.”
(Multicultural Counselling, National Guidance Research
Forum, UK)

“....the most important explanation for the problem
in services delivery involves the inability of therapists
to provide culturally responsive forms of treatment.
The assumption, and a good one, is that most
therapists are not familiar with cultural backgrounds or
styles of various ethnic minority groups, and have
received training primarily developed for anglo,
or mainstream, Americans.” (Bernal and Padilla, 1982,
Chunn, Dunston Ross-Sheriff, 1983, Wyatt and
Parham, 1985)

Most Counselling techniques have been developed along the lines of White, Western, middle-class lines, and so may have flaws when applied to Blacks, Asians, Hispanics, or Native Americans, which has led to under-use of mental health services by these groups:

“..in general, ethnic minorities experience a higher
proportion of poverty and social stressors typically
regarded as antecedents of psychiatric and psychological
disorders than whites...yet...are often underserved by
high-quality mental health resources (Wu and Windle, 1980)

“Can the therapist allow the client to maintain his
or her religious beliefs, or will the therapist confront
these values as forms of “immature defences”?”
(Corey, 1991)


A Counsellor who follows the Christian faith will have views which could influence the Atheist, Buddhist or Moslem client he or she may work with, suggesting an outlook alien to the client’s belief system. Staying with the client’s frame of reference is about stepping into their world. If, however, the Counsellor does experience internal conflict, this must be questioned, whether this is transference, or projection, or something which the Counsellor needs to deal with, which could possibly be taken to personal therapy. The counsellor would need to embrace the angst, staying with the uncomfortable feelings, grounding themselves, and getting acquainted within themselves of where the conflict is coming from.


“Evidence released by the Mental Health Foundation
shows the impact of the poverty gap to both
individual and collective mental health.” (Shropshire and
Telford &Wrekin Voluntary Sector Mental Health Forum)

In addition, Mays and Albee referred to the “cultural insensitivity” of traditional Psychotherapy and

“...a failure of the profession of psychology to develop
and promote relevant and adequate mental health services
for this population.” (Mays and Albee, 1992)
It is well publicised that people living in certain inner-city postcode areas are more disadvantaged than others in more affluent areas.
This can be addressed by multi-agency working, and linking-in with counselling services wherever possible. The counsellor needs, therefore, to be fully aware of the locality of the client, and embrace the challenges that this may bring up in the therapeutic relationship, within the session.


With older adults, there is an assumption that those over 65 may not feel able to access counselling services. The counsellor must therefore be sensitive to any...
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