Written By SVT Team
What is Multicultural Therapy?
Multicultural therapy is a form of psychotherapy that helps people explore and understand their life experiences. When working with a therapist, it is important to consider how different intersecting identities may play a role in your presenting concerns.
The importance of cultural competencies in therapy is well-documented, but what are these competencies, exactly? In short, cultural competencies are the skills providers use to understand their client’s cultural backgrounds in order to help them thrive.
This kind of therapy is also an important tool for helping people learn how to work with others who are different from them. It can help people understand the role that culture plays in how we relate to one another, and how it affects our perspective on life.
It allows us to become more aware of our own biases, as well as the ways in which we might directly or indirectly perpetuate stereotypes and prejudices toward other cultures.
Some more of the benefits of Multicultural Therapy include:
- Helping clients feel more comfortable in therapy because they feel understood by the therapist
- Helping clients identify patterns that may be affecting them negatively
- Promoting self-awareness among clients so they can make better choices for themselves
- Supporting clients in discovering their identities and how they play such a crucial role in life
Therapy & Identity
One of the most important aspects of multicultural therapy is identity. In traditional therapy, we are taught to view mental health issues as a problem to be fixed, but in multicultural therapy, it is seen as an opportunity for growth and reflection.
A big reason why it’s important for therapists to understand their clients’ backgrounds is so they can better help them work through their concerns. The therapist should not simply be there to fix the patient or give them answers—they should encourage them to explore their experiences and come up with their own answers. This can be done by providing a safe space for the client to explore their identities.
Consider your different identities: Age, Disability/Ability, Ethnicity/Race, Religion, Sexual Orientation, Socioeconomic status, Indigenous Origin, Nationality, and Gender. You may also want to consider other identities such as child, partner, parent, friend, student, etc. How do these identities impact your day-to-day life? Are there a few identities that stand out to you as being more present and important?
Two individuals experiencing the same event may have different responses based on their differing identities. Our unique identities can impact us in direct and indirect ways which can lead to lower well-being and an increase in mental health concerns such as anxiety and depression.
In therapy, it is important to reflect on these identities, your cultural background, your experiences, and whether these play a role in your presenting concerns. Doing so provides a holistic view into your life story and helps cater therapy to your unique needs.
Holistic therapy is a way of working with clients that focuses on the whole person and tries to address all aspects of their life, rather than just the symptoms that brought them in. A holistic approach goes hand in hand with multicultural therapy and identity.
It’s becoming more common in psychotherapy, especially when it comes to working with people who have had traumatic experiences and/or other mental health issues.
Many therapists believe that looking at one part of someone’s life without considering all of their other relationships, beliefs, and experiences can leave them feeling incomplete. The idea behind holistic therapy is that if you want to address a problem in one area, you need to look at everything else—and try to address it all together as much as possible. In the end, we are all multicultural beings with varied life experiences.
How We Can Help You
At our practice, we approach each individual client from a holistic lens. We want to get to know you, understand your intersecting identities, and help you find meaning and support you with your presenting concerns.