Counseling Across Cultures
for Cross-Cultural Research
Suppose a Black American counselor is employed in a mental health unit that's located in a moderate-sized United States city. For the first time in her career she is assigned a client who recently immigrated from Viet Nam. The presenting problem concerns strained relationships within the client's family. The counselor knows little about Viet Nam, let alone Vietnamese family structure and dynamics.
Consider a second scenario: A psychotherapist in Barcelona, Spain has been assigned a case involving a married couple from the disputed Basque region of Spain and France. The Basque people are separatists, already setting up some potential strain.
What these contrived situations present are common throughout the world: Clinicians and counselors from one culture doing psychotherapy or counseling with people from quite different cultures. It is often difficult to be an effective counselor with people from one's own culture. When other cultures and world views enter the picture, things can become quite complicated and challenging. Yet there is currently, at least in the United States, an increasing requirement that counselors and psychotherapists become interculturally competent. To avoid or neglect this area of preparation is considered by many to be professionally irresponsible. The present and future chapters in this unit address many of the problems in this active area of professional involvement. These chapters should be especially interesting to individuals who are either in or are contemplating a career in professional counseling.
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