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What can culturally sensitive therapy help with?

A culturally sensitive approach to therapy can help strengthen the connection between client and therapist. Clients can feel understood and validated even when they have a different background from their therapist, because the therapist openly acknowledges and respects the client’s race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, age, disabilities, and other elements that make up their identity. Cultural competence can enable the therapist to examine their own biases, too. Understanding how the client’s background may be affecting their beliefs and behaviors can enable the therapist to devise better and/or more tailor-made solutions.

Are therapists trained to be culturally sensitive?

Some training programs for therapists now include a focus on cultural competence. Therapists may also seek such training on their own, and many do. Individuals who are interested in finding a culturally responsive therapist might inquire as to whether a therapist has had any such training or has experience working with minority populations.

How is a culturally sensitive approach different from other therapies?

Cultural sensitivity or cultural competence is an approach to therapy that can be applied across various therapy modalities to address a wide range of client concerns. A culturally sensitive approach may contribute to a stronger alliance between therapist and client. It may also provide the therapist with a stronger sense of how their own personal background influences the way they relate to and work with the client.

How can I recognize a culturally sensitive therapist?

A therapist doesn’t have to share the same background as their client to be helpful, but being culturally sensitive can be an advantage. There is no license for cultural sensitivity at this time. So it’s important that the client asks questions to ascertain the therapist’s familiarity with their specific background and identity issues. Check out the therapist’s education and any relevant training they may have. The client should feel comfortable confiding any concerns they have without feeling like they have to self-censor due to cultural differences.