Eastern and Western

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Dramatherapy
Vol. 34, No. 2, July 2012, 92–100

CLINICAL COMMENT
A research interview: dramatherapy and cross-cultural
awareness
Downloaded by [The University of British Columbia] at 21:37 23 February 2013

Mandy Carra* and Madeline Andersen-Warrenb
a

Freelance Dramatherapist; b Northern Trust for Dramatherapy

The following interview is based on research by Mandy Carr in 2009, for a ‘top up’ MA at Roehampton University, London, entitled ‘An investigation into the importance of raising cross-cultural awareness within Dramatherapy’. The interview was recorded and then transcribed. This was followed by electronic communication during which some references were added.

The interview addresses the processes and stages of the research, research methodology and the outcomes.
MAW Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed about your research. Why did you choose this topic?
MC My experience of growing up in a middle class, secular Jewish, intensely political home in Liverpool, took me on a path in which social action, justice, being of service to others, education and the arts were supremely important. I attended an independent Church of England primary school. Much of the time I felt ‘different’ and unable to articulate or express my culture. This manifested itself in many ways, for example, feeling unbearably ignorant with items of ‘common knowledge’ such as the Pope, of whom I had never heard, allusions to church and chapel of which I had no experience or reference to food I had never eaten. I vividly remember (at the age of about 8) the intense worry that if I mentioned an everyday thing from my home life, such as visiting relatives in America (a common Jewish diaspora experience) or eating chopped liver, that I would feel embarrassed by having to explain what I was saying. As I grew up, my increasing awareness of the Holocaust and of Apartheid gave birth to a lifelong concern with civil rights and racial equality and identity issues. Eighteen years as a teacher in inner-city schools increased my interest in these areas. As both a dramatherapist and an educator, I have been drawn to working with clients from a range of cultures. As a dramatherapist, I became increasingly aware that the areas of cultural background and ethnicity, can be complex, and that the dangers of ignoring them cannot *Corresponding author. Email: mandycarr24@gmail.com

ISSN 0263-0672 print/ISSN 2157-1430 online
© 2012 The British Association of Dramatherapists
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02630672.2012.704190
http://www.tandfonline.com

Dramatherapy

Downloaded by [The University of British Columbia] at 21:37 23 February 2013

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be overemphasised. For example, there may be a risk of abuse of power, with the therapist representing a potentially oppressive dominant culture. Incorrect assumptions, left unquestioned by the therapist may also destroy the possibility of an authentic client/therapist relationship. Are you also thinking about specific aspects of dramatherapy? Dramatherapy draws on anthropology and upon stories, rituals and artefacts from a diversity of cultures and from history. Phil Jones comments that dramatherapy’s tendency to interpret past events or practices of non-western culture can ‘impose inappropriate contemporary notions and concepts upon practices and forms’ (Jones 2007, p. 25). He discusses the contemporary desire to escape from the complexities of industrial cultures or to project them into the past. The consequence is that distortions can occur as a tradition or past practice is given a false contemporary interpretation. Increased cross-cultural awareness could, perhaps, help make some of the projections more conscious and clarify any distortions. I believe that defining the term ‘culture’ is really quite complex and difficult.

Yes, it is difficult, complex and controversial. It was really interesting to explore the literature about this. I was influenced by Blackwell’s ideas,...
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