How Sociocultural Context Influences Attitudes toward Therapy Culture has a great effect on attitudes toward therapy. According to the National Institution of Mental Health each individual or groups of people bring a variation of beliefs to the therapeutic setting such as communicating what issues to report, types of coping styles, social support, and cultural stigma towards mental health. More often it is culture that bears on whether or not an individual will seek help. For example there is a widespread tendency to stigmatize mental illness in Asian countries.
People with mental illness are considered dangerous and create social distance and devaluation on their families (Lauber, 2007). This goes against the concept in collectivist cultures that desires to be socially accepted by the community. The attitude towards psychotherapy carries skepticism in the Asian culture especially in rural areas (Lauber, 2007). It seems clear that culture and social contexts play a large part on the attitudes of mental health and what type of therapies are used (Stevens, Gielen, 2007).
How Sociocultural Context Influences Therapist-Client Relationships.
In the therapist-client relationship the therapist needs to be concerned with the client’s sociocultural integration (Stevens, Gielen, 2007). Though a therapist has their own culture that differs from the client it is important that a therapist has a worldwide view on the interrelationship among body, mind, and environment (National Institute on Mental Health, 2001). When therapists and clients come from different cultural backgrounds there is a chance that cultural differences may emerge. Therapists may ignore symptoms that the client feels important. Clients may have different ideas on what the therapist is supposed to do (Lauber, 2007). Miscommunication could lead to misdiagnosis, conflict over treatment, and poor adherence to a treatment plan (NIMH, 2001). By understanding the therapist-client relationship can be affected by cultural differences good communication can be established to build trust between the two. Attitudes toward Individual Therapy in Argentina and Japan
Attitudes of psychotherapy differ from culture to culture. There are over 60,000 psychologists in Argentina (Stevens, Gielen, 2007). Therapy is widely accepted among the people in Argentina especially in amongst the middle class. Many feel this is due to the violent past of unrest in the country and search for identity (Tango and Analysis, 2008). On the other hand in Japan the Japanese people in general are not familiar or relate to the concepts of psychotherapy (Nippoda, 2002). The image of counseling in Japan is advice or answers to given to a particular problem and mental illness is treated by more of a medical model (Nippoda, 2002). The attitudes are quite different yet the goals of psychotherapy are similar.
In Argentina the goals of psychotherapy seem to be a quest for identity and a sense of self. For the Japanese the result of psychotherapy is the sense of independence, discovering equality in relationships and finding authority within themselves (Nippoda, 2002). A sense of self seems to be the theme for both cultures yet those from Argentina may continue the process longer since finding meaning of life is a part of the culture. Therapist-Client Relationships in Argentina and Japan
The relationship between client and therapist emphasizes interpersonal approaches and personal relationships (Stevens, Gielen, 2007). In Japan the therapist is considered a person of authority and will try to create a relationship of hierarchy (Nippoda, 2002). Japanese clients are more likely to wait for advice from the therapist and expect the therapist to tell them what to do. In Argentina clients are comfortable with their therapists and view them as guides for personal development (Argentina in Therapy, 2007). Culture influences many aspects of psychotherapy such as how the client expresses their symptoms, coping strategies, family support, and the willingness to receive treatment. Therapists need to be culturally sensitive and have an understanding of their client’s social and cultural factors. By connecting personal experience and culture of the client therapists can become more open to diverse therapies to help their clients function within their sociocultural environment.
Office of the Surgeon General (US); Center for Mental Health Services (US); National Institute of Mental Health (US). (2001). Mental Health: Culture, Race, and Ethnicity: A Supplement to Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville (MD) Retrieved from; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK44249/ Lauber, Christoph. Rossler, Wulf. (2007). Stigma towards People with Mental Illness in developing Countries in Asia. Vol.19 (2). Retrieved from; http://informahealthcare.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09540260701278903 Stevens, M. J., & Gielen, U. P. (2007). Toward a global psychology: Theory, research, intervention, and pedagogy. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Nippoda, Y. (2002). Japanese culture and therapeutic relationship. Retrieved June 22, 2009, from http://www.wwu.edu/culture/Nippoda1.htm Tango and analysis [Video file]. (n.d.). Video posted to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rRNczyT0OI&feature=related Argentina in therapy – Trailer film [Video file]. (n.d.). Video posted to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uqprzvx4pbY
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