Counselling treatment for cultural conflicts (Ealing Practice)
This case study has been written with express permission from the client
SH came to my Ealing practice for Counselling in 2013. She was a young Indian lady whose parents moved to London when she was four years old. SH still had relatives in India and they went back almost every year, however she considered herself British.
She was now 22 and had reached an age where she wanted her independence. Her values and lifestyle had been heavily influenced by British society and she wanted the same way of life as other British people her age. However, her parents and older brother were set on the traditional Indian way of being and this brought SH into conflict with her family.
SH came to counselling at my Ealing practice with a goal of finding ways of resolving this conflict without either side becoming angry, upset or resentful. The sessions began by exploring her cultural background, where she was from, the expectations her culture had and the consequences for people who broke away from those expectations. We also began to look at the idea of a national identity and what it meant to be associated with a certain country. This helped SH to identify and begin to understand why her culture was so important to her family. Understanding didn’t mean that she had to agree with her family’s views, but simply that she had an awareness of their point of view. This understanding and awareness ultimately began to lead to an increased level of tolerance when dealing with her family. She realised that she couldn't change her families view point and more importantly, that she shouldn't try to, no more than they should try to change her view point. All she could change was the way she felt and reacted to their views.
As the sessions progressed, an important aspect of our counselling work together focused on her feelings of growing up in a British culture. Her experiences of being taught one thing by children, teachers and her extended social circle, and then a different thing by family, local community and religion. We also explored her feelings of working with me, a white British therapist.
The later counselling sessions then began to focus on her future - what she desired and dreamt of. We discussed career options, the idea of relationships, marriage and a family of her own. SH had never before had never had the opportunity to discuss these things as her family had always shut her down the moment she began talking about them. She found this extremely useful in understanding what she wanted and how she could go about achieving them.
We worked together for 14 sessions and by the end of her counselling, SH had a much better idea of how she wanted to live her life and how to go about achieving her ambitions, whilst at the same time, respecting her families cultural beliefs and values. She found our work together to be "illuminating" and "enlightening", allowing her to bridge the gap between her two cultures.
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