The importance of culture in the counselling process : an exploration of counsellors' perceptions of cultural influences in the counselling process in Zambia

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O'Reilly-Carroll, Margaret
Issue Date
BA Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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This study explored the impact of culture on the counselling/psychotherapy process, and how this impact is perceived by counsellors in Lusaka, Zambia. A general review of the literature on culture and counselling relates to cross-cultural and multicultural counselling and seems to be exclusively based on experiences where the counsellor or therapist is in the majority culture and the client is from an ethnic minority. Participants in this study included 10 counsellors and 1 traditional healer, all Zambian nationals. A semi-structured interview sheet was designed for in-depth interviews of the participants to explore their perceptions of the cultural influences on the presenting problems, needs, expectations and outcomes of their clients in the counselling process. Responses indicated that culture must be considered in order to achieve effective counselling. Participants were particularly critical of some cultural influences which are seen to have a negative impact on peoples' lives. Participants indicated how the needs, expectations and outcomes of the counselling process are directly related to the traditional model of helping and healing in Zambian society. These findings have implications for the future of counselling in Zambia. These include evaluations of the counselling process presently practiced, acknowledging indigenous models of helping and counsellors' own personal issues and ways to facilitate these. Suggestions for future research include the question on how relevant is the European/American model of therapy in the African context and how might indigenous models of helping be evaluated and incorporated in counselling in the future.