Psychotherapy and Cultural Identity
If you are from a family that has immigrated in recent generations from another part of the world, you’ve likely grown up in at least two very different cultures — one at home and perhaps in your community, another in school, work, and pretty much everywhere else in your life here. Anyone in these life circumstances benefits hugely from being part of more than one culture, and has formed a global identity and a broad perspective on life and the world. There are costs. The psychological and relational challenges of a multicultural background are unique and many; they concern family relationships and expectations, life decisions, identity issues, religious matters, values, aspirations, friendships, work-relations . . . .
Therapy can be useful to someone with a multicultural background, only if the therapist is aware and knowledgeable, in some depth, of that person’s cultural environment. Psychotherapy has itself been shaped in a specific set of cultures, and this has lead to much misunderstanding and ineffective work on the part of therapists. Culture runs deep. Therapists need a nuanced understand of what this means for each person who seeks help.
I work with people from many different cultural settings – first and second generation – on the kinds of issues mentioned above. My aim is always to help such people understand and address their struggles in light of the cross cross-currents within their own life experience. I find that the strict confidentiality of therapy helps a great deal with this.
I developed my specialization in therapy and cultural difference, based on my own background in the study of cross-cultural psychology and psychological anthropology in India, on clinical training in culture and mental health, and on much experience working with immigrant individuals and families.