An exploration of cross-cultural dyads within psychotherapy : individualism and collectivism perspective

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Kuznecova, Tamara
Issue Date
MA in Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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Due to the multicultural nature of the contemporary Irish society, the need for psychotherapists and counsellors to develop an awareness and understanding of cultural diversity is becoming increasingly important. The presented research explores cross-cultural differences within individualistic and collective societies in the psychotherapeutic work. Collective cultures emphasise family integrity, harmony, interdependence, authority and hierarchy, while individualistic societies value independence, competition and personal achievement. As most theories of counselling and psychotherapy are grounded in Western thinking with their focus on the individual and the nuclear family, it can be difficult for individuals from collective cultures to conform to the norms of psychotherapy. Differences in perception of self, relational patterns, communication, expression of emotions and language influence the cross-cultural psychotherapeutic encounter. An inquisitive, accepting and non-judgemental stance towards the client’s cultural norms and values is required from the psychotherapist when working with culturally diverse populations. Author keywords: Cross-cultural psychotherapy, individualism and collectivism, individualism, collectivism, multicultural approach, culture, cross-cultural differences