Cultural Difference and the Counselling Experience Essay

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Cultural Difference and the Counselling Experience Everyone is increasingly aware of cultural diversity through the seemingly ever-shrinking world, faced with this a more open-minded view of the world and practice must evolve. A purely Westernised view is not applicable to the peoples of the world, and study and tolerance are the way forward for us all. Even from an African perspective, I must adapt to accept the Euro-centric culture and learn more of the far Eastern cultures and religions to be more able to assist others ably. For counsellors, even the first step is fraught with danger. In many or most African cultures the first point of contact with a stranger is food and drink. A not uncommon scenario upon meeting a new person is for them to take an item of food or drink with them, often wrapped in a fold of the clothing they are wearing. If a counsellor, when offered an apple or such, turns down the kind offer then the working alliance is likely to be dead there and then, all trust forever gone. Although the client may see out the course of their sessions, it would be through a feeling of obligation, or by compulsion to do so, and it will be of no benefit. So small a mistake, yet so devastating in consequence... It may be that a gift is turned away due to a counsellor applying their ethical duty, or that the counsellor simply isn’t hungry, and yet that small lack of understanding has meant a total failure of care. A counsellor is, by definition, interested in aiding others, yet they may not know or understand why their best efforts and good intentions have come to nought time and again, and indeed may think it a worthless exercise to counsel Africans before too long. This affects all theories and all approaches equally. The next most obvious danger is the lack of eye contact. In the West, the use of eye contact is paramount

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