Does psychology as an import from Western culture adequately explain Eastern behaviour. Are its methods of therapy appropriate?
The differences between Western and Asian cultures and philosophical backgrounds suggests that counselling Asian clients’ needs to focus on their life and social practice so as to achieve harmony and balance between individuals, in-group, and the society. Asian clients in general expect directive, goal-oriented, time-limited and pragmatic counselling, they have a particular form of expressing emotions, and they need a particular counselling relationships.
In view of all these and Asian clients’ expectations, the counselling of Asian clients requires a readjustment of the counselling relationship and the counselling process to provide culturally relevant therapy. Therefore, the PATH Conceptual Framework, a fusion of Eastern philosophy with Western process that integrates several research-based approaches was developed. It addresses the cognitive, emotional, behavioural, philosophical, somatic, spiritual and the major features of Asian culture, and how they influence counselling practice.
As an open dynamic model, it is originated from the Yin- Yang principle with two constitutive components in the counselling relationship, and the unity of Yin-Yang means that all things are completed. It integrates Asian tradition with the concepts of Western counselling theories. The model is based on the grounds of Asian philosophy and borrows the ideas of Western counselling theories to explain the structure. The model does not focus solely on traditional heritage, as this may risk the loss of the reality of acculturation in modern life and the valuable aspects of Western theories.
Culturally competent psychotherapy requires three levels of adjustments for patients of diversified ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Proper technical adjustment in the area of therapist-patient relationships, communications, therapeutic focus, and choice of therapy models. Relevant theoretical modifications for issues related to the concepts of “self,” body and mind, interpersonal dependency, personality development, defense mechanism and coping. As for philosophical reorientation suitable attention is indicated for the matter of lifestyle choice, soul and spirituality, and meaning of maturity.
Every person is affected by his or her own culture so culturally competent psychotherapy is needed for every patient irrespective of his or her ethnic, racial, cultural or socio-economic background.