The Culture of Counselling

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The Culture of Counselling.
Introduction 1 – 2

Getting in touch with my cultural-self 2 - 7 Dealing with my homosexuality 8 – 11 Personal dilemmas that might arise
during counselling 11 – 12 Cultural awareness 13 - 14 Working with the mind 14

The Culture of Counselling.
Culture may be defined in both a broad and narrow context. The broad definition includes demographic variables (age, gender and sexuality), status variables (social, educational, economic) and affiliations (formal and informal), as well as ethnographic variables, such as ethnicity, nationality, language. Temporal changes can also affect culture e.g. the cultures of the Victorian era versus today are different. The narrow definition of culture is limited to the terms of ethnicity and nationality, which are important for individual and familial identity. However, the concept of culture in counselling usually goes beyond these boundaries. It interprets culture on a larger scale, aiming to go beyond its more obvious, verifiable, and sometimes stereotypical, concepts that are associated with a particular culture, toward a more individualised, subject-centric approach to culture i.e. personal interpretations of the culture to which a person belongs. In this essay I aim show understanding of my own cultural self, from growing up till now. I am also going to explore a different culture to my own that could be brought to me by a potential client in counselling. I will attempt to connect the two cultures by comparing cultural mentalities, values, beliefs, and conditions of worth. I will touch on cultural issues that might influence the counselling process between client and counsellor.

Getting in touch with my cultural-self:
I believe all cultures have a code of conduct; “what might be acceptable to you, might not be acceptable to the client”. This is described as “cultural” language (Dillard, John M. 1983 p.9). To enable me to understand my own culture better, I believe I need to consider my parents’ cultures and backgrounds more thoroughly.

My mother is English and was born in 1943 into a British Catholic family in Liverpool. My grandmother became pregnant with my mother when she was already married to another man. Her husband, with whom she had two young sons, served as a soldier during the Second World War and sadly went missing during this time. This left my grandmother to fend for herself and a young family. She met my grandfather after her husband had been missing for a number years. However, because her husband had not officially been declared dead, my grandparent’s relationship was frowned upon by her staunchly Catholic community for whom sex outside of wedlock is a sin in the eyes God: “Neither shalt thou commit adultery” (Holy Bible, Deuteronomy 5: 18).

Their relationship was short lived as my grandfather died only a few years after my mother was born. When my mother was 4 years old my grandmother’s husband returned to Liverpool from Poland where he had been hospitalised and rehabilitated after receiving a severe injury during the war. He wanted my grandmother to give my mother up for adoption as it was not his child.

My grandmother would not give up her daughter so her husband kicked them both out of his house. He told his sons that their mother and sister were both dead and for years they had no idea that they were both alive and living only a few miles away from them.

My father was Danish and was born into a working class Christian family (Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark) in 1934 in Copenhagen. But growing up, the beliefs he developed were more those of an atheist. He did not believe in God or the...
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