Experience of Ethnicity in Therapy from the Perspective of Clients Self-Identifying as South-Asian: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

Prof Doc Thesis

Kanji, Z. 2021. Experience of Ethnicity in Therapy from the Perspective of Clients Self-Identifying as South-Asian: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology https://doi.org/10.15123/uel.89w33
AuthorsKanji, Z.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

As British society becomes increasingly multicultural, coupled with the majority of therapists identifying as Caucasian; South-Asian clients are increasingly receiving therapy from an ethnically dissimilar therapist. Within the literature on cross-cultural therapy, often individuals identified as Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) are treated as one homogenous group. Consequently, there is a paucity of literature focusing specifically on people of South-Asian heritage and their experience of ethnicity in cross-cultural therapy. The current study aims to address that gap in the literature by exploring the experience of clients self-identifying as South-Asian who are in therapy with a therapist of a different ethnicity.
Eight clients who self-identified as South-Asian participated in semi-structured interviews and their accounts were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). Four superordinate themes were identified: 1) South-Asian ethnicity and addressing stigma in cross-cultural therapy, 2) Ethnically dissimilar therapist allows for greater openness and freedom of expression, 3) Internalised racism; South-Asian therapists are ‘tainted by their culture’ and 4) Therapists skills and qualities are more important than their ethnicity. While some participants also spoke about previous courses of therapy with a South-Asian therapist, the majority focused on therapy with either a White or Black therapist. Links were found between participants’ identification and acceptance of their own ethnicity, which seemed to be connected to their assumptions of difference in the therapy room. In addition, the role of stigma and discrimination and the impact of this on therapist choice, engagement and interaction in therapy were salient themes throughout. The therapist’s competency and ability to remain open and curious about difference was seen as a key factor irrespective of their ethnicity.

KeywordsSouth-Asian clients; ethnicity; cross-cultural therapy
PublisherUniversity of East London
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.15123/uel.89w33
File Access Level
Publication dates
Online28 Sep 2021
Publication process dates
Submitted18 Jun 2021
Deposited28 Sep 2021
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