Trapped between two worlds : an exploration of client perspective of the role of culture in cross-cultural psychotherapy

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Sanchez Blanco, Lorena
Issue Date
MA in Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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Rising rates of immigration and the increasing cultural diversity of the Irish society in the past twenty years contribute to the expansion of cross-cultural psychotherapy in Ireland. Most of the literature in cross-cultural psychotherapy focuses on the psychotherapist's perspective and research about client’s perspective is still scarce. Thus this research study aims to enrich existing research about the experience of clients in cross-cultural psychotherapy. The study's goal is to explore and understand the experience in psychotherapy of culturally diverse clients, and to provide practitioners with ideas for working with those populations. The sample of this research study consisted of three clients: one woman from Asia, other woman from Africa and a man from South America; who despite being psychoanalysts, agreed to be interviewed and to talk about their experiences as clients in cross-cultural psychotherapy with Irish analysts. Client’s accounts were transcribed and analysed using a qualitative method: Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Three themes emerged from the interviews: the construction of the self, resistances with the psychotherapeutic relationship and cultural awareness. This research stresses the need for psychotherapists of being culturally aware of their bias, using psychotherapeutic strategies that are consistent with client’s values at the same time than appreciating client’s cultural identity. The findings of this study reveal a parallel process between the participants’ acceptance of their multicultural selves and their cultural awareness of the psychotherapeutic encounter.