When Cultural Beliefs Close Your Mind

Posted by: Farah Lodi on April 17, 2014 10:40 am

Sometimes I really get frustrated! The population I work with is culturally diverse, and I truly value and respect that. But sometimes I have to “sell” the benefits of psychotherapy to parents who can’t understand why their teenagers won’t just talk to them or to other family members about their problems. Some of these parents are so resistant to counselling therapy for their kids, that they sabotage the process from the intake session by openly expressing a lack of confidence in having their teens talk about family problems to a stranger. Some teens have even told me that their parents warn them about psychologists who are only interested in money.  But parents of disturbed kids end up bringing them to therapy anyway because the psychiatrist made scary predictions of suicide risk factors, or the school administration made counselling mandatory in order for the child to remain in school.

Of course the youngsters pick up on the lack of optimism with regards to counselling. This can seriously jeopardize the chance of a good outcome in therapy. However, some kids have been socialized (through school and friends) to be more open to modern psychology, so some of them want therapy even without parental moral support. It’s sad when the parents are the main obstacle to seeking help. Neural plasticity, which enables our brains to change and adapt, helps these youngsters adapt to life situations – I wish it would work for  their parents in the same way!

A basic principle of counselling is that human behavior must be looked at within an environmental context. Why can’t some parents realize that if their teenagers are in a rough, stressful environment, then they may act out or display maladaptive behaviors – regardless of the culture at home. A teenager’s psychological health is tied to his societal system. But some parents are blind to the reality of the psycho-social interaction; they draw the circle of influence around family and home alone.

When cultural taboos prevent psychological treatment, it’s time to adapt. My plea to some parents: please, open your minds………don’t be afraid of losing your culture…….you may lose your kids in the process.




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

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