The Role of Culture and Cultural Techniques in Psychotherapy: A Critique and Reformulation

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This article examines the role of cultural knowledge and culture-specific techniques in the psychotherapeutic treatment of ethnic minority-group clients. Recommendations that admonish therapists to be culturally sensitive and to know the culture of the client have not been very helpful. Such recommendations often fail to specify treatment procedures and to consider within-group heterogeneity among ethnic clients. Similarly, specific techniques based on the presumed cultural values of a client are often applied regardless of their appropriateness to a particular ethnic client. It is suggested that cultural knowledge and culture-consistent strategies be linked to two basic processes—credibility and giving. Analysis of these processes can provide a meaningful method of viewing the role of culture in psychotherapy and also provides suggestions for improving psychotherapy practices, training, and research for ethnic-minority populations.

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