Culturally biased Phenomena

Culturally biased Phenomena

Exercise Content

What is meant by culturally biased?
the tendency to interpret and judge phenomena in terms of the distinctive values, beliefs, and other characteristics of the society or community to which one belongs. This sometimes leads people to form opinions and make decisions about others in advance of any actual experience with them.

Case study
Carlotta Hernandez, a Chicana in her early 20s who was born in Texas to undocumented parents, was struggling with emotional issues involving her relationship with her mother when she sought consultation with Carl Cutoff, M.S.W.

Ms. Hernandez was the first college-educated person in her extended family and felt torn between feeling traditional obligations to family and her newly experienced social mobility. Mr. Cutoff praised her academic achievement and encouraged her to sever or at least minimize contact with her family, which continued to reside in a poor rural community.

He did not understand the importance of her struggle to balance family connections with individual achievement. Ms. Hernandez needed to pursue options of how to stay connected in an emotionally healthy way. The more Mr. Cutoff pressed her to disconnect, the more depressed she became.

1. Recognize that cultural differences are subjective, complex, and dynamic.
2. Understand that forming a good therapeutic alliance requires addressing the most salient cultural differences first.
3. Addressing similarities can form a good prelude to a discussion of cultural differences.
4. Recognize that the client’s level of distress and presenting problem will influence appropriate
timing for discussion of cultural differences in psychotherapy.
5. Consider cultural differences as assets that can advance the therapeutic process.
6. Understanding the client’s cultural history and racial identity development is critical to assessing how best to conceptualize presenting problems and achieve treatment goals.
7. The meanings and salience of cultural differences are influenced by ongoing issues within the psychotherapeutic relationship.
8. The psychotherapeutic relationship exists embedded within the broader cultural context, which in turn affects the relationship.
9. The therapist’s cultural competence will have an impact on the way differences are addressed.
10. Having a sensitive dialog about cultural differences can alter the client’s cultural context about an issue.

Source: Adapted from “Ten Considerations in Addressing Cultural Differences in Psychotherapy,” M. J. La Roche and A. Maxie, 2003, Professional Psychology, 34,180–186. doi: