Multicultural Theories Of Psychotherapy

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Multicultural Theories of Psychology

Multicultural Theories of Psychotherapy

Diagnosis, treatment and care of patient and their conditions are greatly influenced by cultural considerations. These actors determine beliefs and values related to health. Yet, these widespread claims about the real value of cultural role in healthcare do not come with sufficient research basis. Psychotherapists have, for a long time emphasized the need to provide multicultural psychotherapy so as to manage and reduce the ethnic and racial disparities in dealing with mental health issues. How multicultural competencies relate with other clinical process measures and treatment results has demonstrated heterogeneity it effect, though (Karen W. Tao & Jesse Owen, 2015). A famous quote by Slavoj Zizek on multi-culturalism deserves a mention here. "For the multiculturalist, white Anglo-Saxon Protestants are prohibited, Italians and Irish get a little respect, blacks are good, native Americans are even better. The further away we go, the more they deserve respect. This is a kind of inverted, patronizing respect that puts everyone at a distance"[footnoteRef:1] [1: Slavoj Zizek is a Slovenian psychoanalytic philosopher, cultural critic, and Hegelian Marxist. He is a senior researcher at the Institute for Sociology and Philosophy at the University of Ljubljana, Global Distinguished Professor of German at New York University. Zizek's idiosyncratic style, popular academic works, frequent magazine op-eds, and critical assimilation of high and low culture have gained him international influence and a substantial audience outside of academia in addition to controversy and criticism.]

Basic Components of Theory

Multicultural counseling entails the interaction that occurs between a professional counselor and a client from a cultural group that is different from the counselor's, and how such interaction might be affected by the differing cultural perspectives. The definition includes the differences in religious views, sexual orientation, maturity, age, gender, socio-economic status, history of the families and geographical location. The main components of the theory are highlighted as (FIVE IMPORTANT ASPECTS OF MULTICULTURAL COUNSELING COMPETENCIES, 2014).

i. Recognizing Cultural Differences

Discussing the cause of the visit is one of the first things that a counselor discusses with a client. The western style approach through direct interrogation of the problem is incompatible a good number of cultures across the globe. The technique entails the use of direct eye contact, body language, and open-ended questions. It has been noted that recognizing cultural differences and responding to them in sensitive way is a crucial element in effective counseling (FIVE IMPORTANT ASPECTS OF MULTICULTURAL COUNSELING COMPETENCIES, 2014).

ii. Role of Self

Open mindedness, and willingness to expand to expand one's education is an effective strategy towards the goal of successfully working with clients. Self-awareness is a continuous practice that allows one to accommodate new knowledge and apply it for the benefit of the profession and clients (FIVE IMPORTANT ASPECTS OF MULTICULTURAL COUNSELING COMPETENCIES, 2014).

iii. Contextualism

The concept refers to the tendency to describe the self and others by applying more context relevant references and as little dispositional ones as possible (Lillian Comas-Diaz, 2012). Therefore, contextualizing multicultural individuals are bound by context. They apply their perspective to analyze their reality.

iv. Liberation

Liberation and freedom are basic humanistic values. Multicultural therapy promotes freedom, both personally and collectively. One liberates oneself by liberating other people. It is a collective effort. Healing and liberation requires committing to social justice. Therefore, multicultural therapists apply liberation techniques (Lillian Comas-Diaz, 2012).

Multicultural Competencies

Although there are differences in the theoretical views, conceptions of multicultural therapy observe that suitable ways of handling specific cultural situations vary between therapists. Available current data observes that the high rating of multicultural context therapists are linked to the treatment process and client outcomes. The study that explores the relationship between MC and the process of psychotherapy uses rating by client of the therapist; the result of which is compared to another outcome reported by a different client. Studies in MC show that the high client rating is linked to critical therapeutic process; which includes the general competence in counseling, working alliance, session impact and client satisfaction. It is likely, too, that such associations vary across the measures of the treatment process applied and their outcomes or the varying MC measures (direct vs. indirect measures of MC) (Karen W. Tao & Jesse Owen, 2015). The inference deduced by Katz in his dissertation work advances a valid view, as follows. "Only reduced prejudice, in combination with awareness of one's racial attitudes, might be a protective factor in working with minority clients".[footnoteRef:2] [2: Katz, Andrew David (2012). The development of a technique to measure psychotherapists' multicultural counseling awareness using direct and indirect measures. The University of Wisconsin -- Madison.]

Apart from the variability observed in effects because of the MC outcome or measure, there exist other variables that could moderate the relationship that occurs between psychotherapeutic process outcomes and MC. These include demographic factors such as the R-EM status of client, gender and age. Mc has been cited as the most critical when dealing with ethnic and racial minorities compared to clients of white origin. For instance, clients' R-EM status has been pointed out to influence how they view the MC of their therapist and the satisfaction ratings by the client. Such argument contrasts with other views that MC is essential for every client and that it should be applied without considering whether they come from a different ethnic or racial background. It is noted that clients often show multicultural identities, and they may all be significant (Karen W. Tao & Jesse Owen, 2015).

External View on Multicultural Psychotherapy

It is inevitable that in the modern world therapists have to deal with clients from a wide range of cultural backgrounds. Knowledge of the various theories of psychotherapy and the values implicit in the various cultures helps psychotherapists to effectively deal with cases. For instance, in a case where a given culture does not encourage divulging inner feelings to other people, the therapist should know the implications of applying a particular theory that has a strong focus on understanding the client's feelings. It is common for theories to reflect the cultural background of the proponent of that theory. Although the fact that Sigmund Freud came from a background that may be different from ours does not necessarily negate his findings but does raise questions about the extent of cultural contribution in psychotherapeutic theories (Richard S. Sharf, 2012).

There are significant differences in dealing with clients from individualistic cultures and those from collectivist ones. This matter is a possible challenge to many therapists; at least from a clinical perspective. A lot of minority clients including recent immigrants and refugees are strongly committed to their families. The same clients may also introduce personal issues to do with freedom, and personal development, achievement and self-efficacy. They may even present therapy issues to question, deal with family matters, criticize or deal with cultural issues. For instance a Pakistani female of first generation is about to graduate and already has an attractive job offer that demands that she moves to a different city, she expects that such a situation would be rejected by their parents; which in turn causes her a lot of anxiety. The job of the therapist in this situation is clearly cut out. A therapist must seek to help the client to strike a balance between personal goals and obligations towards family. Available research points out that such work is well informed in most therapy approaches by a strong therapy relationship (Jairo N. Fuertes, Peggy Brady-Amoon, Navneet Thind, & Tiffany Chang, 2015).

Many culturally-based healing traditions encourage people to embrace ambiguous ideas without question. Such a situation encourages creativity. Since psychotherapists are aware of the link between multiculturalism and promoted creativity, they allow for creative expression by the clients as a way of self-expression and realization. A lot of oppressed people have developed several creative ideas such as flamenco, Capoeira, graffiti art, urban paintings etc., to overcome traumatic experience. Owing to the fact that a great number of colored people have applied creativity struggle…

Sources Used in Document:


FIVE IMPORTANT ASPECTS OF MULTICULTURAL COUNSELING COMPETENCIES. (2014, July 29). Retrieved from Delaware Valley University:

Jairo N. Fuertes, Peggy Brady-Amoon, Navneet Thind, & Tiffany Chang. (2015). The Therapy Relationship in Multicultural Psychotherapy. Psychotherapy Bulletin.

Jesse Owen, Mark M. Leach, & Bruce Wampold. (2011). Multicultural Approaches in Psychotherapy: A Rejoinder. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 22-26.

Karen W. Tao, & Jesse Owen. (2015). A Meta-Analysis of Multicultural Competencies and Psychotherapy Process and Outcome. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 337-350.

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