Back to Basics

Posted by: Priya Senroy on June 22, 2011 2:03 pm

I found an interesting read in the article written below about Cultural Diversity and Successful Counseling By Jewell Hankins.

Immigrants of today seem to differ from past generations in that they seek to retain many of their cultural values and are less interested in becoming homogenized within the U.S. culture. (Rubaii-Barrett & Back, 1993) This distinctness can create a potentially complex situation for both the client and therapist who may differ substantially in their own cultural values. For successful therapy to take place, it is important for therapists to be culturally sensitive of clients and avoid stereotyping. Stereotyping is detrimental to the client/therapist relationship involving certain religions, or pertain to specific races, ages, or genders, and still others can relate to non-verbal cultural gestures that may mean different things to different cultures. Although therapists cannot possibly be experts on all cultures and their specific customs, it is important for therapists to recognize potential biases that cultural differences can create in the assessment process. (Ayonrinde, 2003)

Cultural stereotyping can destroy good communication between the client and therapist and can be as destructive as ignoring cultural norms and beliefs altogether. When we lack familiarity with the specific cultural norms of a client, we risk stereotyping that client and may fail to identify the specific verbal and non-verbal queues which would otherwise give us additional insight as to the client’s perception of themselves and their surrounding environment. Therefore, to minimize the risk of misunderstanding and misinterpreting our clients we should acknowledge the influence of culture and respond respectfully to these cultural differences, values, and beliefs.

It is important to be culturally sensitive and differentiate those who would take life from those who are practicing a lifestyle both outwardly and inwardly based on their religious beliefs. By being respectful, and giving the individual the opportunity to share their story in their own words, insight can be gained and help offered the individual in resolving the current issues and problems they are faced with. I also find Dr Mary Ivey’s (2006) advice helpful when she explains that getting any possible biases out in the beginning (e.g. a white woman interviewing a black male) will help reduce cultural biases that may negatively impact the interview process. Culture influences many areas of our lives and exercising cultural sensitivity during therapy has been associated with numerous positive health outcomes as well as increased client satisfaction. (Ayonrinde, 2003)


Ayonrinde, O. (2003). Importance of cultural sensitivity in therapeutic transactions: Considerations for healthcare providers. Disease Management & Health Outcomes, 11(4), 233-248.

Ivy, A., & Ivy, M. (2006). Interviewing and observational skills: Ethical concerns [Video Recording]. Walden University: Laureate Education, Inc.

Ivey, A.E., & Ivey, M.B. (2007). Intentional interviewing and counseling: Facilitating client development in a multicultural society (6th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thompson Brooks/Cole.

Rubaii-Barrett, N., & Beck, A.C. (1993). Minorities in the majority: Implications for managing cultural diversity. Public Personnel Management, 22(4), 503-521.

More resources,%20HCL.pdf

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

0 comments on “Back to Basics”

  1. tera gold says:

    Very interesting info!Perfect just what I was looking for!

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