Counselling psychologists talk about cross-cultural therapy: a thematic analysis

Prof Doc Thesis

Rajan, Anita 2012. Counselling psychologists talk about cross-cultural therapy: a thematic analysis. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsRajan, Anita
TypeProf Doc Thesis

In order to maintain integrity and a non-judgemental approach both in general and more specifically cross-cultural therapy, counselling psychologists need to cultivate a habit of reflection, soul searching and self-exploration. It can be argued that any client at any time is always different from the therapist, even if they come from the same culture. The way in which people engage with a cultural heritage creates implications and negotiated ways of being. For the purpose of this study, cross-cultural therapy was regarded as an activity, an attitude and a way of conducting therapy.
The aim was to explore how counselling psychologists understand and practise cross-cultural therapy. An in-depth thematic analysis, embedded in a relativist social constructionist paradigm, was used to examine the interviews of eight counselling psychologists from different cultural backgrounds.
Two dominant themes emerged from the analysis: cross-cultural therapy as a return to individuality and cross-cultural therapy as a return to situatedness. In the theme cross-cultural therapy as a return to individuality, participants viewed clients as individuals with unique takes on their contexts while in the second dominant theme the clients were seen as embedded in their context so therefore increased knowledge of their background was valued. There
appeared to be a constant motion between these two main themes which is demonstrated by the word ‘return’ in their names.
A mapping for the core interpretative features of both of these themes is presented alongside discussions of the power relations that played out in participants’ narrative. Issues around power within the interaction between the client and the therapist as well as in the discourse were examined. The findings support issues uncovered in the literature but also highlight the necessarily complex task of being culturally sensitive. A positive way forward would be honest self-exploration to move towards more accepting and respectful practice in cross-cultural therapy.

Keywordscounselling psychologists; cross-cultural therapy
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Publication dates
PrintDec 2012
Publication process dates
Deposited08 Jul 2013
Publisher's version
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