I would like this blog post to begin a conversation among (but not limited to) clinicians/therapists/psychologists about the impact of culture on our selves and in turn, our clients. It’s a conversation that is long on questions and not so long on answers. This is so vast and broad a topic, it’s impossible to cover it with any depth in one post, or two or five. So I’ll begin somewhere….
As an example of what I am talking about… if you were born and raised in Quebec, are you aware of the impact that the Quiet Revolution in Quebec had on our culture and by extension on you? How do you imagine the new sense of independence and freedom from the Church in Quebecois society may have trickled down and impacted your beliefs about what women can do, what freedom of choice you may have? How might that have strengthened your own voice in terms of what you have a right to choose, think, or act on? How might it have impacted your self-determination? Your agency? How might it impact what you come to expect from others?
How does your own experience of culture – both conscious and not – impact how you respond to clients?
If you were born and raised within a culture that supports individualism – how do you bridge that when you meet a client who may have been brought up in a collective culture (for example a client from Japan, Morocco, China, Columbia, Egypt)? How do you help them adapt – if in fact that’s something that ought to be done – to a more individualistic culture?
How do we work with clients that have a foot in one culture and one in another? How are first generation kids impacted by the split between their parents’ worldview and the social world in which they themselves are growing up? Because surely, culture is not only transmitted to us through our parents, not in this day and age; it is also clearly transmitted through schools, peers, and the media. How do you work with clients who do not identify the way they have been “expected” to by their families?
As clinicians, it’s important to understand what forces are at play in our own psychology when we determine what we look for in a client, what we see, what information presents itself to us, what we miss, what we think is important, all of which is seen through the lens of how we in turn have been taught.
It’s a huge undertaking to examine where one’s beliefs come from, what may have shaped them and the different areas of our lives that have been impacted. I believe deeply that it behooves all of us to examine the areas in our lives where those beliefs end up being expressed: the work we choose, how we raise our kids, how we engage within our communities.
Stay tuned for more….