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Still another grouping is that of temporary visitors to a country, with overseas students and expatriate workers being prime examples. Furthermore, members of the mainstream culture often need to address issues connected with multiculturalism. Cultural considerations are also highly relevant to how all counsellors and therapists live and work.
Issues that highlight these differences are the suicides in custody of young Aboriginal males and the feelings of grief and loss of the ‘stolen generation’ of Aboriginal people taken from their parents and brought up by whites. The many issues of respecting indigenous populations, prizing their difference, dealing with their special counselling needs and yet working towards an accommodation between indigenous and settler populations are grouped under this heading of reconciliation.
Students and expatriate workers who face many of the same issues also require support. However, they may be in better positions to return to their home countries if too unhappy in their new temporary home country.
Coping with post-traumatic stress
Assisting acculturation and assimilation
Migration can be a time of great opportunity. However, it is also a time of considerable challenges. Migrants require practical help with such matters as language, housing, health, education, and employment. Furthermore, migrants may also require support in making the effort to understand and to acquire the skills to reach out to and interact properly with the mainstream culture.
A fundamental skill is that of trying to become fluent in the language of the host country. Migrants may also require help in developing other communication skills that are sensitive to the mainstream culture in which, in most instances, they have chosen to live and work.
Avoiding further marginalization
Where appropriate, therapists can and should help ethnic minority group clients be assertive about attaining their human rights. However, there is a danger that therapists collude when some minority clients further marginalize themselves by unfairly ‘demonizing’ their host cultures, making their lives out to be worse than they are, and playing the psychological game of ‘Ain't it awful’, at the same time as doing little positive to change their situations.
When dealing with issues of acculturation and change, people of all cultures and races can be inflexible and self-defeating. Cultural insensitivity and racial stereotypes are not the sole preserve of members of mainstream cultures. Some migrants may require culturally-sensitive psychological assistance form counsellors so as not to activate self-defeating patterns for dealing with change and stress, for instance withdrawal, being unwilling to alter old ways of behaving, and aggressively disparaging their new countries. Sometimes therapists may need to challenge ethnic minority clients with basic questions like ‘How is this behaviour helping you?’ and ‘What is the evidence for and against thinking this way?’
Addressing cultural and racial discrimination
The author has heard tales of such incidents of varying levels of viciousness from his British-Indian sister-in-law's family, who nevertheless faced far worse racial discrimination in Idi Amin's Uganda. Helping minority group clients address the inner suffering of cultural and racial discrimination as well as develop the skills to survive in, cope with and combat it are extremely important goals for multicultural counselling and therapy.
Assisting clients to manage close cross-cultural relationships
The need for negotiation and compromise will almost certainly be greater where partners come from different cultures. Facilitating the development and maintenance of intimate cross-cultural relationships is an important and often overlooked area in multicultural counselling literature. The clients for such relationship counselling may be people from ethnic minorities and from the mainstream culture. In a multicultural migrant country like Australia, each partner in a close relationship may have parents from different cultures and so the situation can become even more complex, if poorly handled by those involved.
Therapists can also assist partners from different races face the many issues connected with cross-racial as well as cross-cultural relationships. Obvious issues concern helping families of origin adjust to their sons or daughters getting emotionally involved with someone from a different race and fears about the prospects and happiness of children of mixed race in a society where racial discrimination still exists.
Assisting with gender role and gender equality issues
Furthermore, as Hofstede's (1980,1983) work shows, cultures vary in subscribing to masculine values, centred around success and money, and feminine values, which evolve around caring for others and quality of life. In addition, the acculturation of migrants can be much more difficult if there are large gender role differences between previous and new cultures. For instance, in their cultures of origin men may have mediated between the home and the outside world, whereas in their new cultures women may work outside the home and also be the main breadwinners (Eleftheriadou, 1999).
Gender can also be an important aspect of cultural change and conflict, with the changes in women's roles affecting men and vice versa. Cultural change can also influence how people learn gender roles: for example, with the movement from agrarian economies stemming from the industrial revolution, many men have spent less time with their families and local communities to the possible psychological impoverishment of all concerned. Consequently boys in Western cultures may have less opportunity than previously to learn from their fathers and other mentors how to be confident and at ease in being male (Biddulph, 1995).
Attaining higher levels of development
Reflection Exercise #3
Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References: