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Cultural Diversity Issues in Family Therapy


Culture has always been a critical topic for discussions in various settings. This is mostly because culture and cultural differences that all the people have make an important influence on the way individuals communicate, create perceptions, form relationships with others, and make conclusions in various situations and challenges. Therefore, the psychotherapeutic environment and, specifically, family therapy, is not an exception when talking about the impact of cultural diversity. Professionals have to understand that specific cultural characteristic that they and their patients have will have a huge influence on the process of relationship creation, procedures of treatment, and even its results. Therefore, by using academic sources and applying the information to the individual culture, the following paper will address the problem of dealing with cultural diversity issues while working in the sphere of family therapy.

Culture and Cultural Diversity

Before discussing cultural issues in family therapy and applying the influence of diversity to this context, it seems essential to analyze the problem of cultural diversity in general since this information will be beneficial for future analysis. As mentioned by Mezzich et al. (2009), culture overall “can be defined as a set of meanings, behavioral norms, values, and practices used by members of a particular society, as they construct their unique view of the world” (p. 384). Thus, it can be stated that culture informs individuals about the principles of life, health, and well-being and determines what they see as good or bad. Based on this information, it is crucial to make culture an important subject in the field of psychology and family therapy since it can help specialists to understand the needs and opinions of their patients better and, consequently, decide on the most appropriate interventions.

Nowadays and in the future coming years, professionals in the field of psychology will have to deal with the issue of cultural diversity more and more. As noted by La Roche and Maxie (2003), the population of the United States grows continually which leads to it becoming more culturally diverse and rich. For this reason, psychologists and counselors will likely have to work with culturally diverse patients and families (La Riche & Maxie, 2003). This is one of the most critical reasons why professionals have to educate themselves and come up with solutions that will manage the problems of cultural differences before they arise. Being prepared for the various complications during counseling, psychological treatment, interventions, and family therapy will help both the psychologists to feel more confident and professional and patients to receive respectful treatment and effective recommendations.

Addressing the Cultural Diversity

The most obvious and the first step towards dealing with the questions of cultural diversity in family therapy is acquiring new knowledge. Without the necessary amount of information and skills that can be used during practice, it is impossible to deliver effective interventions and establish strong trustful relationships with patients from different cultures. For instance, Gehart (2013), suggests improving the competency of professionals who work in different spheres of psychology, such as family therapy, psychiatry, chemical dependency counseling, and psychology. These competencies can help individuals to understand what they must know and do to be professional and competent enough to make psychological interventions and give recommendations to individuals. In general, knowledge is the main resource for any specialist, and acquiring it is the first step toward having appropriate communication with the patients.

Talking about family therapy a little bit deeper, it can be stated that cultural diversity plays one of the central roles in determining the right path of treatment. This is mainly because, as mentioned by Krause (2018), “family therapy is an earlier name for an approach that focuses on relationships” (p. 8). This name tells professionals something more about how this field of psychology appeared historically, and even though it evolved substantially from the early times, the foundation of family therapy is still relationships and communication (Krause, 2018). For this reason, it can be stated that to achieve excellence in counseling families from different cultures, the practice should be established on open communication, trust, truth, and constant interaction. Professionals have to make their patients feel comfortable to express their opinions created by specific cultures and, at the same time, accept those opinions even though they might not fit the perspectives of the specialist. Thus, psychologists should have the unique ability to look at the situation from another person’s cultural point of view and, based on that, decide on the appropriate interventions.

Application to Individual Culture

Based on the provided information, it is now possible to apply the concept of cultural diversity to my case and understand how I should work in this kind of situation. My nationality is Armenian; therefore, it is clear that my professional practices will be largely influenced by the distinguishing features of my culture and ethnicity. That is why I need to acquire additional knowledge on how to address the issues that might appear during family therapy with people from cultures different than mine. In this case, I will be able to practice and prepare myself for any complications during family counseling.

There are a few strategies that I would like to use while working with individuals whole taking into consideration the cultural differences. I have decided that I have to be and also encourage my patients to be as open as possible about our differences and similarities. Before, starting to communicate about their family problems and concerns, we have to establish a strong connection to understand and respect each other appropriately (Pakes & Roy-Chowdhury, 2007). Some of the questions that have to be taken into consideration are:

  1. What culture do you identify yourself with?
  2. Where are you and your parents from?
  3. How close do you feel to your cultural group?
  4. What languages do you speak?
  5. What language do you identify as your native?
  6. Do you share the values of your native culture?

These are only a few of the many questions that can be asked but they all will help to establish a specific foundation for future communication and treatment.


Overall, cultural diversity appears to be an essential component in the field of psychology and family therapy. Therefore, it seems important to acquire additional knowledge about this subject to make sure that challenges and complications can be prevented. Therefore, by immersing deeper into the topic and applying it to my culture, it was possible to find ways of addressing the problem of cultural diversity in family therapy environments.


Gehart, D. R. (2013). Mastering competencies in family therapy: A practical approach to theory and clinical case documentation. Cengage Learning.

Krause, I. B. (2018). Culture and system in family therapy. Routledge.

La Roche, M. J., & Maxie, A. (2003). Ten considerations in addressing cultural differences in psychotherapy. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 34(2), 180-186. Web.

Mezzich, J. E., Caracci, G., Fabrega Jr, H., & Kirmayer, L. J. (2009). Cultural formulation guidelines. Transcultural Psychiatry, 46(3), 383-405. Web.

Pakes, K., & Roy‐Chowdhury, S. (2007). Culturally sensitive therapy? Examining the practice of cross‐cultural family therapy. Journal of Family Therapy, 29(3), 267-283. 


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