CULTURALLY APPROPRIATE INTERVENTION STRATEGIES
Communication StylesIt is important that the therapist and client send and receive both verbal and nonverbal messages accurately and appropriately.
Most therapists seem more concerned with the accuracy of communication than with whether the communication is appropriate.
37Send messagesMake themselves understood
38Receive messagesAttend to clients
39VerbalContent of what is said
40NonverbalHow something is said
41Accuracy Getting to the heart of the matter
42AppropriateDoes it fit the client and is it sensitive to the clients worldview
Nonverbal CommunicationGenerally occurs outside the level of conscious awareness
Varies from culture to culture
Is important within the counseling context
ProxemicsRefers to perception and use of personal and interpersonal space: Violation may cause one to withdraw, become angry, or create conflict.Some cultures are okay with being very close.If the counselor backs away, this may be seen as aloofness or coldness.Counselor may misinterpret clients closeness.
Status, power, superioritySeating and furniture
KinesicsRefers to bodily movements (e.g., facial expression, posture, gestures, eye contact):
Japanese smile may mean discomfort.Latin Americans shake hands with vigor.Eye contact varies according to culture.
ParalanguageRefers to vocal cues other than words (i.e., loudness of voice, pauses, silences, etc.):
Caseworker may misinterpret silences or speaking in a soft tone.Speaking loudly may not indicate anger but rather a cultural style.
HesitationRate inflectionsSpeaking orderDirect vs indirect
Context in CommunicationDirectness of a conversation or the degree of frankness also varies considerably among various cultures.High-Context Communicationanchored in the physical contextless reliant on explicit code (e.g., many Asian cultures)Low-Context Communicationgreater reliance on verbal parts of the message (e.g., Western)
49Communication Style DifferencesTable 8.1, page 227How these styles affect the therapists perception and ability to work with culturally different clients is important for counselors to consider.
Sociopolitical Facets of Nonverbal CommunicationNonverbal cues are important because they can unconsciously reflect our biases and stereotypes of others.
Communication styles of people of color are often denigrated and seen as inferior by Whites.
Counseling and Therapy as Communication StyleDifferent forms of psychotherapy possess varied communication styles (e.g., Rogers emphasized attending skills; Shostrom relied on direct guidance; Lazarus took an active reeducative style).In general, people of color prefer more active, directive forms of helping than nondirective ones.
Implications for Practice
Recognize that no one style of counseling will be appropriate for all situations.Become knowledgeable about how race, culture, and gender affect communication styles.Become aware of your own style.Obtain additional training and education on a variety of theoretical orientations and approaches.Think holistically rather than in a reductionist manner when conceptualizing the human condition.Training programs need to use an approach that calls for openness and flexibility in conceptualizing issues and skill building.
Nonverbals occur outside the level of conscious awarenessProxemicsProxemics refers to the perception and use of personal and interpersonal space (e.g. norms of physical distance)In Western culture, people seem to grow more uncomfortable when others stand too close rather than too far awayKinesicsKinesics refers to bodily movements (e.g. facial expression, posture, characteristics of movement, gestures, and eye contact)Various cultural norms are discussed ParalanguageParalanguage refers to other vocal cues that individuals use to communicate (e.g. loudness of voice, pauses, silences)Directness of a conversation or the degree of frankness also varies considerably among various culturesHigh-low context communicationHigh context is anchored in physical context (situation) or internalized in the personless reliance on explicit code (e.g. .Asian cultures)The text discusses a situation with a Filipino nurse where her subtle, high-context communication was misinterpreted by the hospital staffLow context cultures communicate with a greater reliance on the verbal part of the message (e.g. U.S. culture)Sociopolitical Facets of Nonverbal CommunicationPeople of color pay close attention to nonverbals because Whites are racist, however, this is often denied