Ethical practice requires a therapist to take the client’s cultural context into account. There is a need to expand current theories to include a multicultural perspective. Traditional approaches assume mental health, optimum health development, the nature of psychology, and the nature of treatment without considering their relevance to some clients. Thus, to be relevant in the modern world, they must incorporate the diversity aspect of the society and have an interactive person-in-the-environment focus. To better understand the client, it is necessary to include their cultures and environment in the therapy. In light of this topic, this paper discusses the strengths and weaknesses of the post-modern approaches from a multicultural perspective and evaluates their significance to counseling today.
Strengths of Post-modern Approach to Therapy
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A post-modern approach to therapy is a good fit with diverse worldviews. For instance, social constructionism is compatible with the idea of multiculturalism. Social constructionism explains knowledge and meaning from a historical and cultural perspective, using social processes and actions. It considers the interactions between complex and diverse forces (Zhao, 2020). One main problem that culturally diverse clients meet in counseling is that they are supposed to conform to the truths and realities set by the dominant society of which they belong (Corey, 2016). It is not just because people are different culturally. What might seem like the best option for someone may not be the most suited for another. A post-modern approach solves this problem by emphasizing the multiple realities and the assumption that what is perceived as the truth is a product of social construction.
The social constructionist approach to therapy provides a framework that clients can use in thinking. They can also use this framework to determine how their stories impact their daily lives. It encourages them to explore how their realities result from cultural discourse and the consequences. They can reinterpret significant life events, and the practitioners can easily guide the clients to respect their values. This approach becomes more crucial when the counselor comes from a different cultural background than the client or when their cultural beliefs differ.
Narrative therapy is also vital in this aspect because it is grounded in a sociocultural context, making it relevant in counseling clients from diverse backgrounds. Therapists using this approach assume that problems are identified within social, cultural, political, and relational contexts and not by looking at individuals themselves. It considers factors such as religion, sexual orientation, spirituality, race, ethnicity, and disability. Consequently, it is significant in identifying narratives that clients find problematic. This approach is also relational and anti-individualistic, eliminating the absurdity of ignoring these in addressing a client’s struggles in therapy. The cultural notions get expounded by the sociopolitical conceptualization of problems. It helps people to understand how, for instance, oppressive social practices impact them.
Weaknesses of Post-modern Approach to Therapy
A weakness of this post-modern approach is that the therapist’s not-knowing stance and the assumption of the client-as-expert may extinguish the client’s confidence in the therapist. A client seeks help from a professional therapist because they believe they can get solutions to problems. They are confident that a therapist has solutions that they could not come up with themselves. A post-modern approach considers the client as an expert in their life, which is often true. However, how they understand this concept can shape the progress of the entire therapy. If the client interprets this as implying the therapist feels inadequate to offer a solution, their confidence levels may decrease massively. To address this problem, therapists using a solution-focused or a narrative orientation must convey to clients that they have the experience to perform the therapy while explaining that the client understands better (is the expert) in knowing what they want. Being transparent to clients is a priority in post-modern approaches. It creates a context for providing services that are responsive to cultures.
Significance of Post-modern Approach in Counselling
The narrative, solution-focused and constructionist orientation do not consider clients as medicalized individuals. For this reason, many regard the post-modern approach as an essential contribution to the counseling profession. They do not over-emphasize the individual’s failures and problems. Instead, they focus on the client as ambitious and resourceful. This approach shows great respect to clients. The centerpiece of solution-focused and narrative therapies is the use of questioning. The open-ended questions about the client’s attitudes, feelings, behaviors, and perceptions are significant interventions. These questions help individuals examine their stories and find innovative ways to recount them. Finally, post-modern therapies are needed in counseling because they reject the universality of philosophy.
Despite several identified limitations, a postmodern approach to therapy provides opportunities to improve the counseling process by considering the diversity of clients. These approaches have much to offer practitioners, regardless of their theoretical orientation. The solution-focused brief and narrative therapies assume that people are competent and healthy to solve problems and enhance their lives. In solution-focused brief therapy, the therapist can promote this behavior by encouraging clients to focus on solutions rather than talking about their difficulties. In narrative therapy, the therapist pays greater attention to the socio-cultural context of clients and allows them to recount their experiences. Undoubtedly, these approaches are needed in society today than ever before as diversity increases.
Corey, G. (2016). Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy. Cengage Learning.
Zhao, H. (2020). Explicating the social constructionist perspective on crisis communication and crisis management research: A review of communication and business journals. Journal of Public Relations Research, 32(3-4), 98-119. https://doi.org/10.1080/1062726x.2020.1802732