Multiculturalism, defined as “the policy or process whereby the distinctive identities of the cultural groups within such a society are maintained or supported” (Oxford Dictionary) has been a fact of life in the UK society for centuries. The presence of many different cultures and ethnic groups helps shape the general experiences of living and contributes to the vibrancy in the UK today. However, navigating multicultural experiences in a modern society can be challenging and anxiety-provoking.
People from new and different cultural groups may be negatively stereotyped and heavily discriminated against because of their differences from a main culture. On the other hand, people of a dominant culture group may feel challenged and threatened by people and experiences that seem unfamiliar or strange. On a personal level, how we perceive the differences between our own cultural and identity group and those of others can define our sense of self. How do I fit in? Will I be accepted for who I am? What if I am no longer who I was, would my friends and family accept me? Finding the place of belonging is even more complicated for those of us who stand in the crossroads of multiple cultural lineage.
Cultural considerations play a relevant role in the psychotherapy I provide. I understand both the therapist’s and client’s cultures play a role in the therapeutic dynamic.
- I also recognise that the likelihood of a person seeking help, receptiveness towards different forms of treatment, and how successful interventions are can all be profoundly affected by cultural considerations.
- I take into account multicultural considerations such as:
- The relationship between mental health and stigma in different cultures
- Sensitivity to racism and ethnocentrism
- Cultural values and the ways in which culture shapes family relationships, ethics, core beliefs, and communication styles
- Variations in communication styles across cultures; some cultures prefer close contact while others need more personal space in therapy
- Some cultures encourage people to be open and animated while others value those who keep their problems to themselves.
For many years, I have worked with multicultural issues and have had clients from all over the world as well as those who are first-generation British with parents and grandparents who grew up in a different culture. I also have personal experiences in navigating cultural differences, and experience in social and cultural anthropology, which makes me sensitive to multicultural issues.